Yes and no. The major problem with any yearly title is that you always wonder with such a condensed timeline will they really have time to make an earth-shattering improvements and the question is usually no. NCAA Football 2009 is no different but what they do seem to be doing well is taking a page out of Toyota’s playbook on continuous small iterative changes. There are a few very nice touches in NCAA Football 2009 though.
First off it looks great, though I think I am going to take this measure out of the weighting in my reviews because we expect it to look good and it should look good. With the power of the PS3’s hardware making a video game visually pleasing is getting easier and easier to do. In fact, I can’t really think of a title on the PS3 that I have seen yet were the graphics were bad. But getting back on topic, the graphics are brilliant and bright and with some all new player animations, visually it is right on point.
As I said in a game that is reborn every year, major changes hardly ever happen but you just have to supplement that with small and medium ones. One of those small things is that fact that most teams now have alternate uniforms, such as my Maryland Terrapins have the Red Tops w/white pants, the White Tops w/red pants, and the Black Tops w/black pants. This year in NCAA Football 2009 you can even take your Dynasty online and battle against your friends in a fight for the national championship. In online dynasties, while you won’t play a human opponent every week, they can jump in anytime you want and play. The cool thing about this is that you are are basically playing your own dynasty inside of one big dynasty so therefore you are all competing for the same recruits. You match wits to see who has enough clout to land those top 5 star prospects, nothing like snatching a coveted blue chipper right out from under your opponent’s noses. This adds another dynamic to an already solid online experience and EA has even had the foresight to anticipate the dissolution or lack of other players participation in the online dynasty by allowing players to convert any online dynasty into a regular dynasty that can just be played by you.
The thing a lot of people will still find annoying is the difficulty level and the computer AI. It seems that either its too easy or too hard. If you have it on Junior Varsity prepare to drop 50+ on any opponent but if you just bump it up one notch to Varsity (which is the default) you will see a noticeable increase in the computer’s AI and your ability to successful convert plays. I mean I was literally up 30 points with about 5 minutes to go and that durn catch-up kicked in and they came back and beat me with 0:02 seconds left on the clock, are they serious?
They have included a multitude of mini games though I must admit I never really pay them any attention. To me my favorite part of the game is recruiting. Anybody who has been playing this series as long as I have knows they have taken several approaches to recruiting and most of them have required a substantial amount of time between games to be successful especially if you like to start out with lesser known programs and build them up like me. That has been rectified in NCAA Football 2009 which now allows you to call your propsects and talk to them about different subjects to find out their likes and dislikes and then play up the good things. This still works in the model of the old game but if you are like me and think recruitment is really important but don’t want to spend 45 minutes on it between every game then the new quickcall feature is for you. Using Quickcall you basically set how long you would like the conversation to go and if you want to offer them a scholarship during that call and that’s it. The computer does the rest and depending on the amount of time you set for that recruit the more information that you get back. This comes in handy when scheduling visits as if you already know what recruits are like you can structure their visit for maximum effectiveness and they will rate their visits based on how well your trip matches what they like. With the ability to put up 35 recruits on your board and rank them anyway you want, Quickcall is definitely a time saver.
They have made some minor control adjustments, one being that now depending on how you flick the right stick you will still do the juke moves and stuff but if you do a really quick flick they will make quicker less obvious cuts, really effective when you hit hole and then a cutback lane opens up behind you.
All in all, NCAA Football 2009 is a very solid game and a huge upgrade from 2008 which was essentially just a port of the PS2 version. The game will also have downloadable content such as game day sounds and fight songs specific to each school. While there is nothing earth shattering and a few of the old glitches like DT’s transporting or player sliding 10 yards instantly to make an interception still occur they happen far less frequently. If you are a huge college football fan you will probably buy this anyway since there is no other alternative but at least this year you will feel like you are getting a little bit more for your money. I give NCAA Football 2009 4.2 out of 5.0 stars.
To make this even better and show you guys how much I am looking out for you, if you are online check out my ea locker and download the latest rosters so you will really be up to date.