EA's first college football effort on the PSP comes off slightly different than its console counterpart. Its focus has changed, switching to an easier, more arcade like feel. A few gimmicks (especially the odd camera system) separate enough to make it unique, though these changes don't add up to a better game.
The entire presentation of this PSP effort is geared towards simplicity, with clean menus, sharp backdrops, and easy to navigate interface. Single player mode is disappointingly barren, dropping the original and fun Campus Legend. Playing through a Dynasty is your only option here. On the other side, multi-player fans will enjoy the Ad Hoc and Infrastructure play.
On the field, the game feels like a step back from the other current generation versions. The passing game is suspect, sloppy and hard to control. Man coverage regularly falls apart, allowing for deep bombs to succeed on a regular basis. Crossing patterns or short routes are dominated on the defensive side. Anything less than a soon-to-be-pro quarterback will cause consistently inaccurate passes, some of which are so off line, and it's hard to imagine where the player was looking.
The ground game suffers with a similar out-of-control feel. Instead of simply stopping or getting stuck on players when they collide, they bounce off like pinballs. This not only affects the physics, but direction and speed too. If that was awful enough, a deadly glitch can cause the runner to be spotted where he was first touched, not where he ends up. If he breaks a tackle on the line of scrimmage and breaks for an additional 20 yards, the next play will happen on the line he was initially touched. The extra yards don't count.
Stranger yet, the camera has a mind of its own. During long passes, the camera shifts around to the receiver in slow motion. It does so to emphasize the catch, usually an impossible one-hander. It's fine the first two or three times. After that, you'll realize how jarring it is. The same goes for kick offs and punt returns. Here the in-game camera swivels to the return mans feet, looking up at the ball. When the reception is made, it moves to its normal positioning, the defense ready to strike with little time to make an adjustment.
Other additions include the ability to coach a portion of the team during times outs, increasing their stats for a brief period. This can make a significant difference late in the game if it's tightly contested. Extras are minimal and include seven unlockable highlight videos. They run for around a minute each, highlighting some incredible plays from various eras.
While progress from the previous years Madden has been made (the graphics are superb, though the lack of any sideline players is rather obvious), this is an easy example of why it's always better to wait until next year on a consoles first attempt at a sports game. This has been true with nearly every sports game to hit the system to date (including NBA, Tiger Woods, MVP Baseball, World Tour Soccer, and of course Madden). NCCA Football simply continues the trend.
NCAA Football is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360.