Review By: Jared Black
|# Of Players:||1-4|
Much like Madden before it, NCAA Football 07 for Xbox 360 lacks several of the features found in its current-gen counterparts. The reason for this is unclear (you’d think a company with EA’s resources could hire a few extra hands for the project), and ultimately it makes the Xbox 360 version a worse value (particularly when it’s $10 more) than its Xbox or PlayStation 2 siblings. Nevertheless, it’s still a decent game that should keep football fans busy well after Madden arrives in a week or so.
Of course, the largest omission is the Campus Legend mode. In the Xbox and PS2 versions, gamers can create a player and take him through the college life. In addition to performing well on the field, the player must also balance out good grades and a healthy social life. Given that this is one of the key selling points of this year’s version, it’s surprising that EA didn’t at least make an effort to include it in some form. It’s also missing the pre-season Spring Drills mini-games also found in current-gen versions.
The other big selling point of this year’s version is the new momentum meter, and fortunately that did make its way into all versions of the game. Essentially, the momentum meter gives stat boosts to a team’s players as the team gains momentum on the field. Score a touchdown or make a big interception, and the meter will begin to shift in your favor. The meter isn’t necessarily dependent on score, as a team trailing big can still get the meter on its side to aid in a late game comeback.
Most of the time, the meter does have a subtle effect on the flow of the game, and overall I like the addition. College football is fueled by emotion, and it’s about time someone tried to capture that in the game. However, at times the meter does seem a little too influential. In a game against mediocre Wake Forest, my team went into the 4th Quarter leading 42-17. With the game seemingly in the bag, I turned to my stout running game to grind out the clock. What happened next defied any sense of reality, as my QB/RB combo proceeded to fumble the ball on four straight possessions…each in the first couple of running plays I attempted on each possession. Pop! Fumble. Pop! Fumble. Pop! Fumble.
After the first fumble was returned for a TD, the momentum meter shifted slightly in Wake Forest’s favor. After that, it was almost as if their players were replaced by a team of Supermen. Fumble after fumble after fumble by two of my best players on straight handoffs ensued (no risky tosses or options), with a recovered onside kick and a suddenly unstoppable Wake Forest offense thrown in for good measure. By the time it was all said and done, I actually lost by two scores. This wasn’t simply a case where I played poorly (it’s pretty hard to botch straight hand-off attempts); I just had virtually no control at all over the outcome of the game. In retrospect the only other thing I could’ve done would’ve been to take a knee on every play, but I’ve never seen anyone do that with almost a full quarter’s worth of football left to play. I know, this seems like whining (or as our MMO friends would say, "lurn2play!"), but it really is unbalanced and unfair at times, and I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't tell you about it.
Aside from the changes I’ve mentioned, NCAA Football 07 plays almost exactly like past installments, and as usual very similar to Madden. In fact, the last time I played a game in this series before this one was NCAA Football 2002 on PS2 (so if I talk about something like it’s new when it isn’t…well…it’s new to me), and I had no problem jumping right back in and adjusting to the subtle changes. Other changes are mostly cosmetic and welcome, such as additional control tips before each snap.
Unfortunately every version of NCAA Football 07 is buggy, and the Xbox 360 version is no different. The first bug I noticed does affect gameplay; on certain running plays if the QB was unable to hand the ball off to the running back (like a defensive player getting into the backfield before the handoff), he would proceed to automatically run directly toward the sideline. At that point the only control I had over him was to do special moves (like a spin up the field to get him to run out of bounds a yard or two further), with the left analog stick completely disabled. Not a game killer like the one found in the PSP version, but still annoying to say the least. I also ran into a few other bugs, but those were mostly cosmetic and included things like the announcer crediting a run to the QB when he pitched it on an option (it actually counts towards the RB’s stats) and drive summaries occasionally showing drives of 0 plays and 15+ minutes in a 20 minute game.
Posted: 2006-08-16 11:39:33 PST