It is well into fall, and here in the U.S. that means one thing -- college basketball season. Fans across the country (and the world, for that matter) are pulling out their favorite college team sweatshirts, buying tickets to local domes and arenas, and rooting for their alma mater. In the video game world, that means EA Sports NCAA Basketball 10 is out, and like a kid brother to the NBA Live series, is once again hopping up and down, eager for some attention. We still have a long time before March madness, but NCAA Basketball 10 is trying its best to keep college basketball fans occupied while we wait for the Final Four.
NCAA Basketball 10 may appear to be a college version of NBA Live 10, and while the gameplay mechanics are the same, there is a certain intensity that comes from amateurs (so they are called) playing for school pride, and a shot at the big leagues. Everything about NCAA Basketball 10 looks pretty good; it plays relatively smoothly, and offers some nice additional features. Above all, NCAA Basketball 10 is designed and polished for the college basketball fan. Sure, a regular sports fan will get a kick out this game, but those who will truly love it are the diehard college basketball fanatics.
Our favorite update is to the game’s presentation. The game features a unique broadcast experience that makes you feel like you are watching an authentic live game. You will see the CBS and ESPN integration everywhere throughout the game. Launch a new game, and you’ll see the same logos you would see on a normal TV broadcast. In addition, ESPN announcers Erin Andrews, Brad Nessler, and the somewhat irritating Dick Vitale all comment on the game’s action courtside, usually with the same flair as during a normal game. All of this helps create a gaming experience that appears more like a TV broadcast than an actual game, and for the most part, this works perfectly and will likely be around in more EA Sports titles next year.
On the gameplay side, you’ll find nearly identical mechanics as in NBA Live 10. As a whole, we are never all that impressed with basketball games. They often feel sluggish, and you don’t get the same fast-break action as you get in real basketball. NCAA is not an arcade style game, rather; it’s a simulator and is meant to replicate college basketball. The pace frequently feels slow, and driving to the hoop is far too easy. We were, however, very impressed with the new motion offence feature. By simply tapping a button, you can send a player into motion, to set a screen, or hook around the baseline. You will also see when this player is open (although, this doesn’t always mean your pass will get through the defenders) and if they manage to get a clean shot, he’ll likely find nothing but net. This one touch system is a great addition, and helps the usual slow pace of basketball games.
College basketball is all about supporting the team as a whole, finding the best players on your favorite teams, and seeing them progress through the year. EA Canada did a great job of fine-tuning each school’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to focus on what your team does well to beat some of the tougher opponents. One of the other new features in NCAA Basketball 10 is the ‘toughest places to play.’ Some arenas are truly difficult to play in, and you’ll definitely feel that in NCAA Basketball 10. There are 20 stadiums, chosen by fans, that are considered the toughest places to plan, and if you find yourself there, you’ll feel some extra pressure with the camera shaking, tougher free throws, and hostile crowds.
Since college basketball fans are usually very concerned with their team’s ranking, NCAA Basketball 10 provides dynamics updates that mirror progression throughout the NCAA season. Rankings are updated every Monday via ESPN. All of these additions are great, and help create the real intense college basketball experience. There are a handful of gameplay modes, but the bread and butter rests in the Dynasty Mode. Here, you’ll choose a team, a coach, staff, recruit, and all the other functions you’d expect as the head of a college basketball team. Out of all the modes on offer, Dynasty will likely hold your attention the longest, though those of you with only a mild appetite for college basketball will likely tire pretty quickly.
Overall, NCAA Basketball 10 is a fine basketball romp boasting an aesthetically pleasing TV broadcast-style presentation. We appreciate the tighter gameplay mechanics and new one touch motion offence, but in the end, people who are not interested in college basketball will probably not care much about this game. Over the years, the franchise (and NBA Live) has seen some modest improvements, but overall, we were hoping for a bit more from our college basketball experience. If you are anything like us and have a favorite team (go Syracuse!) and you enjoy basketball games, you’ll get a great deal of enjoyment out of NCAA Basketball 10. For the more casual basketball fan, however, you may find yourself more frustrated than happy.
-The Final Word-
NCAA Basketball 10 offers a brilliant TV Broadcast style presentation and provides the ultimate experience for college basketball fans. However, casual fans may want to look elsewhere.
|Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3|