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Xbox 360 Review: NCAA Football 08

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While we’re firmly entrenched in the next generation of football games, NCAA Football 08 doesn’t do much to change expectations. Updates are small, minor, and to some, possibly even useless. A number of annoyances and glitches are also prevalent, further dropping down this otherwise solid game of football.

The new front end immediately makes an impression on the player, and upon further digging, it proves to be an impressive sight. Not only do your favorite saved replays greet you upon entering, you can walk around and see your accomplishments through numerous trophies and awards. Tracking your progress through these displays is an impressive sight as they fill up over the course of play.

Those same saved replays shown during the menu process can be uploaded to EA Sports website for everyone to see. This is constantly pushed on the player at the end of every game or challenge. It’s tiring after a while, and an option to disable it would be welcome.

New to this next-gen version of the series is the Campus Legend mode. It doesn’t have the depth or presentation it did for its debut run on the PlayStation 2 last year, but is still an excellent way to get in a game when free time is short. Here, you create a player, push him through state high school playoffs to determine his skill set, and then choose a school from those offering scholarships.

You only play your created player, and only those plays he would be involved in. In other words, if you’re the quarterback, you don’t take control of the receiver when the ball is caught. Off the field activities include practice and personal decisions that could affect your GPA (critical to say active on the roster) or influence your campus popularity.

One major complaint is the play calling, all handled by AI coach. You can only be baffled as they call a Hail Mary when you’re inside the red zone on second down. Be prepared to audible, though only if you’re the quarterback.

The familiar dynasty mode offers some robust options for scouting, and those who take pride in digging deep to find prospects will enjoy some of the additions made here. A nice intro screen offers a roundup of news from around the NCAA customized to your dynasty.

Lead blocker controls, introduced in last year’s Madden, make their first appearance in the college game. A new addition is momentum, allowing players who perform well and consistently to receive a confidence boost. Likewise, their stats increase for as long as they stay hot. The Weather Channel provides weather data from the real life locations at the time you start the game, though its accuracy is questionable at best.

Offensive moves feel as if they’ve been tweaked this year, to the point of being ridiculously overpowering. Breaking tackles is far too easy with even a mediocre running back, and being powerless to stop an opponent after repeated hits is nothing short of ridiculous. This occurs far too often. It’s only fun until it happens to you.

Oddball glitches are everywhere. The ESPN radio updates when browsing the menu system come and go as they please, if they come at all. Bobbled snaps on extra points rule the play dead due to an incomplete pass, leaving the player no chance to recover. When taking over on defense, the play selection screen defaults to special teams of all things.

Asking Lee Corso once to choose a play leads to him picking something almost every time out from there, even if you specifically select a different means of play selection. In local multi-player, for the second year in a row, your opponent can easily view your play selection unless you use the bluff feature. There’s no need for it if the selection mode was changed to a classic multi-button selection process.

Graphically, NCAA 08 is bland and outdated. Player models are fair at best (though they animate wonderfully), and the field is flat and muddy. Stadiums are gorgeous for those schools that feature accurate recreations. Sadly, things such as sideline details and the crowd are awful. They never sit down the entire game.

Making strides in some areas and falling back in others, this mixed edition of the wildly popular EA Sports franchise will undoubtedly please followers. Those who rightfully expect more will find this a casual weekend rental. There’s simply nothing here to justify the extra $10 for this generation of football games in NCAA 08.

NCAA Football 08 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PS3, Xbox, PS2.


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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.