NCAA Football 08

Reviewed by Cliff Bakehorn, Posted on 2007-08-24


Developer: EA Tiburon Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: July 17, 2007 Also On: PS2, PS3, Xbox & Xbox 360

The NCAA series was in the same spot as a coach depending on the season to keep his tenure. Last yearís disappointing next-gen debut was pretty dull, offering nothing special but flashy graphics and the same crummy next-gen Madden engine. This year, Camp Tiburon trained the boys well. NCAA Football 2008 is a far better game. Still, it has flaws that keep it from being a game Iíd recommend the devotion of a purchase. NCAA Football 08 is, however, worth a look.

This yearís game manages to fit in all of the same features that gamers loved on current-gen versions of previous NCAA Football titles. Youíve got normal modes like Season and Franchise, of course, but those are around every year. Now you can also set up a Campus Legend character and work your way through the high school state tournament, get recruited by a school, and work your way from a scrappy no-name player to a campus legend. This mode is a lot of fun, although I wouldnít recommend playing many positions other than quarterback or halfback. The camera perspective in this mode reflects only what your character sees, since you only play as the character and position you chose when you started the mode. I played as a scrambling quarterback, recruited as a starter for the #10 Arizona Razorbacks. I had a great time running past some of the weaker defenses on the schedule, but had a really tough time in other games. Overall the mode is a lot of fun because you can play through a season quickly (you only control the possessions in which you are actually playing).

Beyond those modes, there isnít much to NCAA Football 08 other than improved presentation and the expected visual overhaul. This year stadiums are improved nicely (as an Indiana fan I was happy that at least Memorial Stadium is the real thing this year) and so are the crowds, which animate a little too much but keep things looking exciting. In fact, NCAA 08 has quite the lively feel to it. Whether youíre playing in Campus Legend from the single-player perspective or familiarly controlling the whole team, youíll enjoy the sights and sounds. Animations are absolutely better than before, moving closer to an illusion that they arenít actually animations (DMM physics will change this entirely someday, hopefully Tiburon will use them by the 2010 season). Some tackles look brutal. Gang tackles look especially interesting, as the piling on of defenders looks even more natural than ever this year. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with how the game ended up looking. I will say thisĖplay NCAA 08 in high-definition only. The Xbox 360 version of NCAA 08, in standard definition, much less enticing. I am still annoyed by the commentary and the repetition of select things, but with Campus Legend being my primary focus this season (and the limited play time a result of such a choice), I didnít have as much of a problem. Still, players looking to go through Franchises and seasons playing every single game will absolutely grow tired of the rambling.

If anything, the on-field gameplay has improved tenfold. This is obviously the most important aspect of the game, and as such NCAA Football 08 is immediately better than the games from the last few years. The next-gen engine that was used was finally scrapped in favor for an engine that feels much more akin to PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions of past NCAA Football games, so the familiar feeling of playing football is back. It couldnít feel better; sliding through holes in the defense is a thrill, what with all of the visuals and animations and such. Big hits feel absolutely incredible and arenít a pain to execute. Overall the controls just feel a lot more like they should have. No longer do I feel like I am watching a robot zip-line passes to down-field players, I feel like I am actually controlling a virtual quarterback. Excellence.

NCAA Football 08 canít scurry back to the locker room without a word or two of advice. This yearís game was the right thing to do, truly a step in the right direction for the franchise. Tiburon worked wonders on the disappointment that was last yearís game and as a result NCAA 08 is a game I think football fans should definitely pick up. However, it doesnít offer much in terms of new content. Campus Legend has been done before. Franchise and Season options donít really excite and are expected. Online gameplay is nice, but thatís also an expectation every season at this point. NCAA Football 08 just shows for the first time that Tiburon can keep their pigskin titles on their feet, and running strong at that.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 8
Written by Cliff Review Guide

Reviewed by Cliff Bakehorn