NCAA Football 06
When Madden snatched up the exclusive NFL license, some of you probably thought that the game would easily walk away with this season's football trophy. Well, after judging NCAA Football 06's performance, I'd say Johnny Ballgame better start taking his little bro seriously. Thankfully, EA has addressed my biggest complaint with last year's edition of NCAA-, the visuals. Everything has been touched up; the grass no longer looks like Astroturf, stadium shadows cover parts of the field, and better yet, the players actually look like student-athletes (they sport punier physiques than the pro bunch do). But it isn't all about graphics here, as the all-new "race for the Heisman" mode (see sidebar) will entertain folks like me who aren't into the micromanaging of dynasty mode (which, by the way, now features a user-friendly in-season recruiting system). Each NCAA installment implements small yet welcomed gameplay tweaks, and 06 is no different. The new impact players (indicated by a pulsating white circle under their feet) help you distinguish who are the go-to guys; plus these gridiron greats get a performance boost during key plays. Now that the X button (A button on Xbox) is for sprinting only, it's much easier to scramble and throw on the run. Also, you'll juke the bejesus out of many more defenders with the special moves readily accessible on the right analog stick. Now, how 'bout trying for an unblemished record with 07and adding an online season mode?
EA Sports certainly gives it the old college try each year with NCAA, and this season's no disappointment. As for the new stuff, I totally dug the race for the Heisman mode, which had me running some drills, earning a scholarship, and tracking my progress in the cool dorm room/home base. Can't say I'm as excited about the graphics as Bryan is, though; overhauled or not, they leave me pining for slicker next-gen visuals. Still, everything else is impressive, notably the all-important atmosphere. Hit up a rivalry game with fight songs blaring and the crowd going wild (love that controller-shaking stadium pulse feature), and you get a sense of the electricity the real-life games deliver. I'd almost be totally fooled if not for the repetitive announcers and occasional spotty A.I. (multiplayer's where it's at anyway).
Features are nice, but gameplay rules. Last year's awesome additions came at the slight expense of the game's speed--a deficiency that's been remedied in 06. And rolling out the QB while the passing icons remain visible (allowing for quicker decisions while scrambling) is a minor tweak that makes a major difference. Fans of NCAA's dynasty mode will love the new in-season recruiting; invite a blue-chipper to a rivalry game and a rousing victory may just seal the deal. The much-hyped impact player feature feels a little arcadey to me, but I'm happy the hit stick is no longer a Madden exclusive.
Strike the Pose
In college football, no award is bigger than the Heisman Trophy. This year's game features a whole mode dedicated to winning the prestigious prize. Dubbed "race for the Heisman," it's tailor-made for those seeking less of a time commitment than NCAA's expansive dynasty mode.
As your status as a Heisman hopeful increases, your dorm room will start to improve, and you'll get more fan mail and even new lady friends in your life (be sure to check out the picture on your dorm room's computer).
Download NCAA Football 06
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP