Wednesday, September 05, 2007

NCAA (Legend Mode)

I'm still playing Legend mode in NCAA 2008, and even with its flaws, it stays interesting and entertaining for a long time.

I've gotten e-mails from people asking questions about Legend mode, and in particular, the best way to max out a player's ratings. I discovered last week that the "evening activities" you go through only give you skill bonuses for that week--they all reset on Sunday. And the bonuses you get usually aren't very large, so that entire mini-game is relatively pointless, with the exception of boosting up your GPA, because it will drop steadily unless you intervene.

With evening activity ratings bonuses being only temporary, that raises this question: how do I improve my player's ratings permanently? There are increases at the beginning of each season, but other than that, the player development system is very cryptic, as on-field performance doesn't appear to translate to rating increases in any logical way (or, if it does, it's just not explained in any way).

I've figured out what to do, though, if you want a very highly-rated player. What I'm about to tell you could certainly be considered a spoiler in terms of developing your player, so if you don't want to know about this, stop here.

The only real clue you're given in terms of player development is that if you go into your Freshman year and you're not the starter, you have to play the practices, make plays (in my case, tackles), and accumulate enough practice points to rise on the depth chart. It's an explicit requirement, because you're shown exactly how many practice points you need to accumulate before you move up.

Also, on the loading screen, it says that your ratings will increase as you near (in practice points) the player above you.

So here was my theory: if I move up on the depth chart, then I should get enough of a ratings increase to have a higher overall rating than the player I just passed. That means I should find the best player at my position possible when I'm looking to commit to a school, because once I pass him, my ratings would be sky-high.

I saw two schools in the country where I would start out as a fourth-string middle linebacker: USC and Penn State. USC didn't interest me that much, just because they're so strong as a team, but Penn State was ranked #17, and their middle linebacker (a senior) had an overall rating of 99.

If you're curious as to how many practice points it would take to pass a guy like that, it's over 200. I played every practice and it took me over six weeks, so that was a lot of practices. However, I did learn a few new wrinkles about playing the middle linebacker position--in particular, when the quarterback is in the shotgun and you're assigned in man coverage to the running back beside him, go outside the defensive on the same side as the running back, then blitz. If the running back goes out on a pattern, just follow him. If he stays in to block, though, he's going to have a hard time stopping you, and you can cause some chaos in the backfield.

This does leave you vulnerable to draws and running plays to the other side of the field, but in some situations it's worth the exposure.

So after six weeks of practices, I finally get to the first team--and my overall rating is a 99. I've got a beast of a player, and there are still a few games left in my Freshman season.

This should work no matter what position you play, so just find a great player at the position you want to play, go through the practices, and you'll have very high ratings when you pass him.

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