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NCAA Football 2005 (PC) Reviewed!
Game Info
GENRE:
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PUBLISHER:
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DEVELOPER:
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Screenshots
Gameplay: 10 / 10
Graphics: 9 / 10
Sound: 9 / 10
Replay: 9 / 10
Final Rating:
9.25 



Introduction


EA Sports is to the sports videogame world what Texas is to the real life college-sporting world. No matter the year, expect them to be ranked as the year's greatest game, and in the Texas Longhorn's situation, team. This year is no exception, as EA Sports has promised us new features in this year's version, including a "Stadium Pulse" that promises to bring the twelfth man into the game. So can EA Sports meet our expectations once again? And will they raise the insurmountable bar that 989 Sports and Sega must now leap?

The new pivot feature makes the game that more realistic.









Graphics


The pinnacle of most EA Sports games, the graphics of NCAA 2005 are as spectacular as we had expected from the talented developers. Faces have emotions when you zoom in that far, and new animations have been added with tackles and player movements. One of the more impressive additions is the pivoting of the players as they run at high speeds. Before, players changed directions by slowing down and rotating. Now, they can bend lateral to the ground and place a hand on the ground to spin their body in a new direction, which can lead to some spectacular plays with the right halfback or wide receiver. The only nit-pick is that body parts still move through each other when you look, and glitches like quarterbacks who have arms that throw in one direction and the ball flies in an entirely different direction. Other than that, the fans look good, the stadiums look good, the players look good, the mascots look good, hell even the chain gang is fully interactive (run into them and watch them go flying!).


You can now make your own posters for your fans to wield.



Sound


The roar of the crowd (more on that later), the sound of one-crushing tackles, and commentary are all spot-on just like they were last year. Added this year is the Stadium Pulse, in which tough stadiums can get in the act and actually effect games with their noise. Press the L2 button rapidly enough, and places like the Swamp will make the screen shake and the only sound you can hear is the crowd, sometimes even drowning out the announcers. And they sound realistic as well, to boot. All of the mainstream fight songs are here, but they aren't listed in like songs in other EA Sports games. If I hear a rather stirring fight song, how will I know whose it is? I heard the Jaws theme while fooling around with rosters, but I had to sample 162 teams to find out who had it! Also, a lot of the commentary is rehashed. Any person who has put a lot of time into 2004 will remember many of the sayings. And may you have mercy if you are in a blowout in a normally loud stadium, as you will be bombarded every down with a comment on "How quiet it is." until the last gun. Also sometimes when you ask Corso to pick a play, his commentary will be hit or miss, i.e. he will suggest a draw play and the commentary will be something along the lines of "Time to throw it deep! Other than that, a very good showing by EA Sports.


The crowd can really cause havoc this year.



Gameplay


All the favorite aspects of college football are here, with loud crowds, big hits, and freshmen trying to prove their worth on the field. The Stadium Pulse adds a whole new angle on choosing your team. Many people will at least try a game as the Florida Gators, as they are #1 on the "Toughest Places to Play" list. But in dynasties you should be wary, as the list will change depending on your performance. A big hit button has been added, and will crush your opponents when used correctly. This can even affect their stats and composure for the rest of the game, not to mention some injuries. Finally your linebackers can punish receivers who run routes across the middle! Thankfully EA made sure to give the big hit its weaknesses. Miss the hit, and you may find yourself giving up more yards than you thought.

Composure is also a new addition to this year's game. Make a big play with your quarterback, and his overall rating can go up five or more points. These bonuses can stay with your player through the season if he continues to do well. But as the saying goes "Only the great ones flourish under pressure". The players that haven't seen much college game time may get rattled and lose points on their stats. This can also happen when you go in a big game against a high-ranked opponent or in a tough stadium.

Back are the Dynasty and College Classic modes. In the Dynasty mode, you start out as a no-name coach and work to become one of the legends in college football. All the bowl games and rivalry games are here, along with their distinct trophies. A deep recruiting mode is back with scouting and recruiting techniques that are customizable to the player. Those who can master it can slowly build or rebuild their team into a national powerhouse. One of the main problems is the coach contracts. You slave to complete their tasks, and all they offer is a contract extension. There is no feeling of accomplishment. What I would like is a currency system or reward system in which the school would have to offer me a large sum to keep me or risk losing me to another school. With these rewards or currency I could buy things a la Sega's "Crib" system. Otherwise, you may be declining just for a chance to play games in another stadium. As for College Classics, it appears EA didn't exactly listen to our complaints. Let me explain: these classics are usually five-minute sessions in which you must complete a catch or return a kickoff for a touchdown or other remarkable feats. Many of them are one play. Yet there is no "retry" feature. If you fail, you are booted back to the main menu, where you must then reload the College Classic menu, reload the game, and try again. There is more load time than actual play! And with 20 some classics to play with some nice rewards, it will take someone with infinite patience to master them all. Please EA, add a retry feature next year!



New animations like this big hit are always welcome.


Value

With almost 200 teams, including a create-a-team feature, there is no shortage of places to try out and experiment with. Will you take the east route and choose Miami? Or will you bring small teams like Eastern Michigan to national recognition? The Dynasty mode also features multiple decades of playable years, so expect some surprises of other teams winning national titles. I personally had Kent State win one... Anyway, there is plenty here to play, and watching the competition in December and January will have you picking this game up again if you had put it down. It's too bad EA Sports will cut into their own sales when Madden comes out. Only hardcore football fans will be buying both, as they give basically the same experience. But with college classics and a few hundred pennants to collect, you will be busy with this game for some time.