Wednesday, July 25, 2007

NCAA Football 08 (360): Impressions (#2)

I've played through my Junior season in Legend mode. It's still very interesting, and there are quite a few outstanding moments, but there are some missed opportunities as well. Here's a rundown.

On the positive side:
--turning off the announcers really helped me appreciate how good the crowd sounds are in this game.
--the stadiums just look phenomenal, even with the reduced graphics quality (which was worth the tradeoff, because the framerate is much improved). They did a particularly excellent job conveying the massive size of the stadiums.
--while the animations aren't of the same quality as All-Pro Football 2K8, they're significantly improved and quite good in general. Most notable area that needs improvement: defensive backs need to be tracking the ball with their head, not with their eyes in the back of their head.
--generally, the A.I. uses its timeouts in a reasonable manner.
--the BCS standings calculation, in my limited experience, has been much more accurately replicated.
--like I said previously, I can only speak for the MLB position, but the camera is totally playable and much, much more immersive than the ONE camera in Dynasty mode.
--playing as one player is really, really fun.

On the negative side:
--a bug: all my Legend games are starting in the mid-to-late afternoon. Every single one for three seasons, which is a huge drag.
--another bug: sometimes the sound will reset to a much lower volume during a game, and it stays that way until you reboot.
--two primary gameplay issues: too many interceptions and too difficult to run (on default All-American settings). I'm going to fiddle with these for the next season and see to what degree they can be improved.
--the wind rarely blows strongly. Playing as Texas Tech, the wind should be whipping across the plains on a regular basis.
--in Super Sim mode, change of possession plays don't pause for your input before the game continues. This means you see something flash up quickly and then you're on the field, wondering exactly what happened.
--the holder for field goals should not be looking back at the kicker when the ball is snapped. It happens often enough that it's not a rarity.
--the features have a clunky interface and aren't nearly as much fun as the Sports Illustrated covers use to be.
--in Legend mode, it's very easy to interfere with a pass receiver and not get called for interference.
--the "Pontiac Game Changing Performance" play is often completely meaningless to the outcome of the game. A little thing, but you notice.

I'd also like to a few changes for next year. I know it's highly unlikely that any of this will happen, but here goes:
--if I'm only controlling my player, then why are there still catch circles and that little yellow circle to signify drops? The graphics are good enough that we can see what's happening--we don't need those artificial visual clues. Same thing with the big-ass clown star at my feet--you could just change the color of my shoes or something without drawing me so far out of the game.
--I understand why my assignment is diagrammed on the field, but let me turn it off once I understand what I'm supposed to do. There's no reason to still have it up during the play.
--it's time to convert to big-boy timekeeping and add an accelerated clock feature. Don't make me play 5:00 quarters to get an accurate number of plays--that's totally goofy.
--it would be a significant improvement to Legend mode if mini-games were tied to the "evening events." For instance, when you see a message that a coach made you go to the gym for mandatory weight training, use something similar to the Combine weightlifting mini-game in Madden. Do that with as many of those evening events as possible and wind up with half a dozen mini-games or so.
--make practice meaningful by making it possible to improve your ratings based on your performance, even after you're first string on the depth chart.

I see more and more people complaining about this or that in Dynasty mode, which I'll probably be starting next week, but my experience in Legend mode has been tremendously enjoyable.

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