As EA continues their acquisition of exclusive sports licenses, increased pressure ends up on every release. After 2K Sports passed on their College Hoops franchise, that leaves the re-titled NCAA Basketball 09 as the only college series left (at least in terms of basketball). With March Madness gone from the title, one would expect this to be a fresh take on the game… and it’s not.
As with NBA Live the game starts on a playground, where you can randomly shoot hoops while the game loads. Oddly, the game features the Weather Channel license so you know the weather at your current school of choice. Apparently, the Weather Channel hands out their license in bulk, and EA figured “why not?”
In terms of modes, there’s nothing new here. Seasons, Dynasty play, quick start, and online matches are all expected. There is a Tournament of Legends, letting players select from classic teams, putting them into a 64-team bracket to determine the top one. It’s not all that different from any other prior tournament mode.
On the court, the big push this year is game tempo. It makes sense, as the sport is based on hot streaks and momentum. However, the feature is overdone to the point of nausea. Every time out, many breaks in play, the commentary, and anywhere else it can be mentioned, it is.
Granted, it’s important. It can dictate whether your hot players start missing shots, or make crucial turnovers. Again, great idea in principle. However, if you take a team based around a half-court offense and manage to run the ball down the floor quickly to go on a 10-0 run, you’re actually penalized. The new coach feature (which pops up in the corner of the screen to offer simple advice) will begin berating you for not sticking to the game plan, despite a 20-point lead built entirely off fast breaks.