The latest Electronic Arts (EA) college football game returns to the Nintendo Wii console and features several new options that create simple overall game play ideal for first-time gamers and casual players. The All-Play subtitle reflects a more player-friendly format, full of expandable options detailed enough to gradually increase the difficulty and A.I. challenges when desired. This title eliminates stressful button mashing while shifting detailed role-playing aspects to concentrate on popular Wii remote motion capabilities/strengths.
The All-Play format, also appearing in four other EA Sports titles, utilizes the Mii profiles and motion controls well, making it so game play creates an engaging all-age/skill level experience. Mascot games and practice modes can be great ways to learn capabilities quickly, as many familiar elements carry over from the previous game installments. This title still includes advanced options and features, like those satisfying replays, through manual selection.
The simplified controls feature three easy gestures. Players might find themselves doing a double-take on the description screen. This motion control enhancement allows anyone to jump in and play while reflecting the actual movements for a more tactical, physical experience. Throwing the ball is much more realistic than pushing a button. These multitasking passing options require choosing receivers through the direction pad on the remote along with the timing and throw velocity. Running the ball while shaking the Wii remote is a lot of fun as well as running the option play. The kicking controls utilize the nunchuk for the direction then players move the remote up to boot the ball.
The offline multiplayer mode supports up to four players so novice users can play with and compete against advanced players. Basic role-playing aspects and college activities boost the experience without the extensive Campus Legend mode. ESPN announcers have variable dialogue but don’t feature pre- or post-game analysis. An absence of sideline graphics, which would boost the coaching elements a bit, and a shorter Dynasty mode (10 years) are some of the notable differences from other current console versions, but this game still entertains on a high level.
Helpful alerts and audio prompts (through the remote) provide hints and instructions when certain actions are needed. Rousing school fight songs, statistics, game scores, a large cache of team choices (almost 200), and Mii player cards also provide some nice enhancements.
The graphics match the All-Play theme with helpful ball and boosted movement trails so players can always see what’s happening. The block lettering and stars reflect a neat chalkboard, learning-style format. The text is easily readable except the red colored results when your Mii player falters on the field.
The simple crowd graphics show basic movements where developers then bridge to an interactive celebration dance. Players shake the controls to raise some ruckus after a big score. Opposing players not only suffer through this display, but potentially lose influence with the crowd if the scoring player shakes hard enough. Ending results show a grid where players fill up crowd icons with their team in this entertaining mini-game competition. It’s not hard to max out with a string of consecutive touchdowns, even as the opposing team.
Available hot routes/audibles and coaching options cement a solid play-calling system. Players can choose basic plays, delve into a more detailed playbook or just let the coach make the call. Different situations will trigger different player reactions. Coaches can also boost specific player performance during breaks; for example, by boosting your secondary with a four-deep defense while coaching the defensive line. Those evade movements achieved by shaking the remote are pretty satisfying as well as the resulting defensive pressure.
EA does another fine job creating something special for the Wii console version of this sports game (could a PC version be on the horizon?). This recommended game features the Michigan State Spartan mascot on the cover.
NCAA Football 09 All-Play is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PS2, PS3, PSP and Xbox 360.