Thursday, June 25, 2009

NCAA Football 10 (360): Demo Impressions

I bitch about NCAA Football annually, but I've also felt like (except for last year) that I've gotten my money's worth, even if the game always had at least a few significant flaws.

Last year, of course, was a train wreck. The pursuit angles and speed gaps made the game unplayable. Seriously, Backyard Football had better pursuit angles than NCAA. Plus, the number of sheer bugs in the game was much worse than the already low standard for annual sports game releases (current exceptions: The Show and NHL).

So I was at least marginally hopeful that the idiotic design choices last year would be replaced by some semblance of sanity. And in some ways, it has been, but if the demo is indicative of the final product, this is the first year in many that I have no interest in this game.

A quick run-through:
--it looks like ass in HD. Put in a copy of The Show, watch it for a few minutes, then start the NCAA 10 demo and try not to throw up in your mouth. It won't be easy.
--incredibly, they've left in some of the pursuit angle code from last year. The pursuit angles appear to mostly be fixed, but remember how some defensive players would actually run away from the ball at critical moments during a play? I saw that happen twice in the first twenty plays. Example: a pass play where the defender was closing on the ball as it was in the air, then he magically turned and started running in the other direction. After running away from the ball for 10-15 feet, he turned back and again pursued. Seriously, development dudes, WTF? Were you not embarrassed enough last year to fix this shit?
--there are some new animations. I noticed, in particular, some new animations for receivers and defensive backs when trying to catch the ball. I think.

Then there's the announcing, which deserves a separate paragraph of its own. Check out this sterling exchange between Brad Nessler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso:
Nessler: He's sacked by the big fellow.
Herbstreit: For a big fellow, he sure moves pretty good.
Corso: Kirk, you didn't call him 'big fellow' when you saw him at the hotel.

Ingenious homoerotic subtones notwithstanding, that's what passes for clever in this game.

This entire engine is so old and so tired. Graphically, I think it's the single worst entry in the entire EA Sports line. Actually, it may have the worst HD graphics of any team sports game, period. And the entire experience feels like the seventh season of a t.v. show that jumped the shark three seasons ago.

College football actually has more potential, conceptually, than the pro game, because recruiting is potentially much more fun than the draft and free agency. But this franchise is on the rocks.

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