NCAA 2009 Hands-On Preview
[Editors Note: My entire hands-on was in regards to All-American and Heisman modes of play. I gathered the hands-on over about 20 hours worth of gameplay.]
Last week I had the chance to get some hands-on time with EA Sports’ NCAA Football 2009 before the PlayStation 3 cover announcement in New York. As most of you now know, Matt Ryan was selected as the cover athlete for the PS3 and DeSean Jackson was selected for the PS2. I’d like to mention that the build we were playing was not final code and there was obvious room for improvement as expected with any unfinished game. I had the opportunity to play both the XBOX360 version of the title as well as the PS3 installment. For those of you wondering if the two versions play similarly or if there is a drastic difference, you have nothing to worry about. EA Sports has made it a priority for both titles to play exactly the same, which is probably why they demoed both versions side-by-side at the event.
While the experience was quite enjoyable, the game wasn’t absent of certain flaws. Due to this being an unfinished build, it gave us (community guests) the opportunity to make note of its flaws to the producers of the game in order to rectify them. One of the more obvious issues was the streamlined control. This was most noticeable with LBs (linebackers) taking part in coverage. When clicking over to take control of a LB that was covering a WR (wide receiver) or TE (tight end) there is a slight delay before you can manually move them from their path in order to get a jump on the ball. It felt as though the game was forcing you to complete the animation process before you were able to take over. EA took note of this and it will more than likely be remedied.
Some other issues that seemed to plague the title were the overabundance of completions (whether they be INTs or Receptions). I counted several instances where quarterbacks were easily able to go 13-15 during a game without much struggle. This took away from the realism of the title as there were not nearly enough under throws and over throws much like you’d expect to see at the collegiate level. Combine this with the overpowered usercatch ability and you can do some serious damage offensively. While we tried to test to see if the cornerbacks had an equal advantage with the usercatch, it turned out that the wide receiver had the upper hand about 60-70% of the time.
There were a couple of key features missing from NCAA 2009 that may upset a handful of individuals, but it is nothing that truly detracts from the game. For those hoping to see D1-AA schools, referees on the field, and QB (quarterback) autopass to be available, you’ll be disappointed. I understand the desire and the simulation effect that the D1-AA schools would create, unfortunately they did not make it into this year’s version but will more than likely show up in the next. One of the other key features of past NCAA games was the Create-A-School option. This was also left out of the next gen version of college football.
Most of the other, smaller issues were due to the code not being complete, thus leading me to believe that they would be corrected by the time the game was completely finished. We still felt the need to mention them to the producers in order for them not to be overlooked, just in case they were. I decided to get the negatives out of the way in order to provide you guys all of the highlights of the game to end in a high note – believe me, there are a lot of high notes to this installment.
I’ll start off by discussing the new player models that EA has implemented and built from the ground up. They are a huge improvement over the past models. You no longer see pregnant linemen, steroid kickers or hulk-like punters; the majority of the player models appear to be very proportionate to the point of realism and really help give the field a larger "lifelike" appearance. If any of you care to remember, the larger player models ... (continued on next page)