NCAA Football 2004
The "if it ain't broke, just refine it" approach proves again to be the right coaching choice for EA Sports' persistently excellent NCAA Football. But is this year's game Heisman-worthy? Hell yeah. Improvements abound. Increased crowd involvement breeds a truer-to-life stadium atmosphere. Fans roar louder as you head toward paydirt, and watching them tear down the goalposts after a big win had me sprinting through the office to show Todd this awesome spectacle. Plus, I'm digging the new camera angles, especially when it pans to the side of the field on quarterback rollouts or zooms in on the handoff during a play-action pass. Even checking out stats in Dynasty mode now sizzles, thanks to the fresh weekly Sports Illustrated magazine mock-ups. And traveling back in time to re-create 20 college classic moments (like Doug Flutie's 1984 Hail Mary pass against Miami) is a blast. Add online play with voice chat (for the PS2 version only) to these subtle improvements, and it equals one helluva college football experience.
Madderts great. It's the premier football game. It's aces. Big deal. You put me on Survivor: Belly of a Whale with one pigskin sim--I'll take this one. NCAA Football 2004 may not be the best, but it's the most fun. In the pro games, every team is, relatively, equally skilled. So if Detroit beats Tampa in Madden, it's improbable, not impossible. But beat Nebraska with Kansas in NCAA and you've rearranged the universe's stars! The upsets in NCAA make it worth getting good at, and online play seals the deal.
I've been a big fan of EA's NCAA games for a long time, and this year's version is the best yet. The gameplay isn't quite as confining as Madden's, allowing for more open-ended games. Sure, blowouts are common, but there's nothing wrong with that--especially now that you can gloat about your online victories with real-time voice chat. Even solo play is fun, with an awesome Dynasty mode and a cavalcade of classic teams to choose from. Now if only I could beat Todd....