Friday, August 18 2006 @ 12:00 AM CDT
EA has long been the king of football games ever since Madden was released. Though other titles have tried to wear the crown, EA has always held strong to the #1 football franchise on consoles. In the shadow sits NCAA Football 2007, though I donít think it will purely be known for the ability to import draft classes any longer.
The Tiburon team has done an amazing job bringing the NCAA engine to the next-gen platform. Each stadium is reconstructed using the original blueprints and satellite imagery, and the student, alumni, and band sections are just where they should be. All your senses will be happy with the combo of surround sound and a HDTV.
With that said NCAA Football 2007 does everything a next gen title should do. Sadly, as with other EA Sports titles, features found in the current generation of systems still have not made their way into the Xbox 360. Though Tiburon did re-work the 60 year Dynasty mode, which has been streamlined quite a bit to make it much more accessible. Other new features are a new kicking system and the addition of the Momentum Meter.
EA claims to have this important Momentum Meter (top left of the scoreboard) which could make or break the game. It is sort of like a tug-of-war type of feature. If you gain yards, you gain momentum, and if you lose yards, you lose momentum. Interceptions, fumbles, big hits, and touchdowns can also alter the momentum. Though in reality, I never saw any change on the field as a result of this meter swinging in either direction.
The kicking system this year works very much the same as the Tiger Woods shooting mechanic. Pulling back on the right stick will build the meter and thrusting it forward will deliver the kick. Unlike T-Woods though, donít expect to find a turbo button to spam while performing this.
The major omissions are the Campus Legend and Create-a-School modes, but to be honest, having a compelling Dynasty mode is much more important. Just as in years past NCAA Football provides plenty of off field recruiting and tasks to keep those that play NCAA for the front office game plenty busy.
So with all that said, will this finally be the year that NCAA becomes the football title to buy, and not to rent? The answer is a simple no unless you are a hardcore college football fan. Outside of the ability to play 60 years worth of Dynasty mode NCAA Football 2007 does not offer much in the way of replay ability over the span of a year. The fact that really helps solidify this is the lack of the Campus Legend. With Madden 2007 bringing the superstar mode to the Xbox 360 this month, Madden would be the clear choice to buy if you could only choose one.
The online play in NCAA Football 2007 is riddled with bugs as well. After playing a few matches and having the other person drop the game I thought they were just quitting, but after I lost connection to the game twice I knew the problem was on EAís end. I only hope EA can resolve these problems and ship a perfectly working version of Madden for Xbox Live.
What else can you really say about a football game? In the graphics department this game is definitely next generation. In term of features though, NCAA Football is lacking against itsí PS2 counterpart. While writing this review several people asked ďHow was it?Ē, while the game was great it doesnít answer the problem I am having with the next generation of sports titles.
With the average console having a shelf life of 5-6 years and sports games being released yearly on almost every platform it goes without saying that the new features sell the product. I am also fully aware that it takes time to add in all the features and ensure everything works bug free. My main problem is not wanting to wait 2 years to see the same damn features I can play on my PS2 on Xbox and play them on the Xbox 360. For this very reason NCAA 2007 on the current gen systems outshines the Xbox 360 edition of the game.
While the move to next generation platforms is a double edged sword for developers, as a consumer I donít see an issue with being upset that the system I bought 5 years ago offers more in terms of gameplay than my shiny new Xbox 360.
The simple answer to what started as a review and ended in an editorial rant? NCAA Football 2007 for the Xbox 360 is an excellent example of what a next generation football game can play like on the field. Though if you are looking for off the field features as well, dust off that current generation system and buy the game for that. Otherwise donít expect NCAA Football 2007 to be worth much more then it has in the past, a rental to build your draft classes and prepare for this yearís Madden.