Review: NCAA Football 10 (PS3, Xbox 360)July 12th, 2009 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: PlayStation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360
Like most sports games these days, NCAA Football 10 brings a few new features, tweaks, and a load of polish to what was offered in last year’s game as a majority of its appeal for those that did or didn’t buy last year’s game. NCAA Football 10 isn’t a radically-enhanced game over its predecessor, but the solid job Tiburon did to polish what was a very rough game last year does add a lot for those that were disappointed by NCAA Football 09 in that regard last summer.
There are a few more notable additions to NCAA Football 10 this year, though a few might be features that should’ve been in the series’ first appearance in this generation. Custom conferences are now a part of both offline and online dynasty, which are nice for dynasty managers that want a bit more freedom to organizing their participants. The TeamBuilder feature is a very fleshed-out, web-based feature that lets people upload their images to design a variety of teams, both real and fake, that players can download to fill up the twelve slots that they’re allotted with retail copies of the game.
The career mode in NCAA Football 10 has been re-branded as the Road to Glory mode that now lets you explore a small dorm room as a weird NFL 2K5-like interactive menu along with a Sportscenter-style segment each week featuring Erin Andrews and Kirk Herbstreit discussing your progress throughout your career with vague descriptions and critiques, though all of that can be avoided if you want to stick to the menus. The career mode is largely the same, though recruiting offers the chance to badmouth other teams to recruits instead of just praising yourselves, but the entire recruiting process is getting a bit convoluted now as more of the tedious thing you have to do between games if you want a good class of freshmen for the next season. The same goes for playing high school games with your created player before finally signing with a college and starting your collegiate career in Road to Glory. These things were neat a few years ago, but have become the unpleasant parts of what are actually good modes otherwise.
Season Showdown is an interesting metagame for NCAA Football 10 that lets players associate themselves with a school and all of your accomplishments in-game help add points to your school’s standings to help them get closer to the #1 spot and eventually a championship at season’s end. It’s a bit like the old EA Bio feature that EA Sports games featured back in 2004 and 2005 but with online integration. You get notifications of points that you’ve earned for making plays yourself on defense, using good strategy, punting or kicking a field goal on fourth down, not running up the score, and a few other means for points. It’s a nice way to give some meaning and bragging rights to our play and encourage us to play fairly, like the way that football is supposed to be played.
Though NCAA Football 10 doesn’t bring much that’s new to the gameplay front, Tiburon did a nice job of polishing the gameplay and adding some nice touches to help the game play a bit better. The biggest addition is the new gameplay menu that pops up before the kickoff, which lets you set your team’s gameplan in eleven areas that gives you good control over how you want your team to play. Animations have been improved a bit so that defenders tackle a bit more appropriately, leading to more shoestring tackles and less awkward, warping linebackers. Your running backs and receivers have a bit more of an opportunity to shake off tackles now, though the branching animations can lead to some more awkward transitions from your back being on his way down to nearly breaking out of a tackle in a second.
There are other parts of improvements to NCAA Football 10’s gameplay that don’t result in awkward moments. The controller rumbles when you’re about to be sacked, which is a great touch when you’re paying more attention to your receiver’s routes than the blocking. Defensive lineman have all of their disengage moves mapped to the right stick along with pushing it up for exciting the crowd, which are smart moves to make jumping to block throws or kicks easier to do with the shoulder buttons. The Player Lock feature lets you lock on to one player on defense or offense with its own special camera that is a neat feature, but losing control of the rest of your defense may not be a great thing for control freaks. Quarterbacks can even still get the ball off while in the process of being sacked, which mostly results in lame duck throws that are easy for a receiver or defender to grab if they’re nearby.
The overall visual quality of NCAA Football 10 is a marked improvement over last year’s game, which felt like a very rough game that the developers were more concerned about other things than polishing the visuals. This year, most everything moves or looks better, which adds a lot to the game. The animations or models may not be great, but AI-controlled players move more fluidly and less robotic than they did last year. Even the sluggish menus and menu load times have been greatly improved, so say goodbye to waiting two minutes just for the main menu to appear or for saves to load and hello to a snappy interface that is now rather pleasant to navigate the menus. Even the change to put online dynasty access alongside offline dynasty and Road to Glory saves those that use it a ton of time.
The audio area is where NCAA Football 10 is starting to falter, as the commentary of Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit is getting stale with a lot of the same lines you’ve heard before and poor recognition of what’s going on so that the proper responses can be played. Imagine barely getting a pass off to a receiver as your quarterback is being sacked for about seven yards and hearing Lee Corso raving about your quarterback’s amazing ability to scan the field and find the right receiver to throw to. The music will be exactly what you’d expect after ten years of band music playing in the menus or ESPN Radio broadcasts for the past few years, so don’t expect much to be new in that department either.
NCAA Football 10 isn’t really going to bring much that’s significantly new to any part of the game over its predecessor, but it does feature a well-polished game for those that are fine with that that makes it worth a purchase. The Season Showdown mode could be the dark horse mode that makes playing this game all season long a necessity, but there’s not really enough here that’s new to sell to anybody that wasn’t won over by the gameplay last year. There are some roster issues involving lack of freshmen or some graduated players on certain team that EA is supposed to be fixing by the time that the game is out, though we don’t know anything more about those issues until the game is released.