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NCAA Football 2005 Review

Developer: EA Sports Publisher: EA Sports
Release Date: July 12, 2004 Also On: GCN, PS2, and Xbox

Sports games are always a touchy subject around Game Freaks 365 and NCAA Football 2005 is no different. Companies must find a way to improve the game enough to warrant a purchase but maintain the same feel as last year’s game. Luckily, NCAA Football 2005 manages to do just that.

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There are some noticeable improvements from last years game. The biggest addition is Home Field Advantage. HFA is a feature that attempts to bring the atmosphere of college football into the game. If your team in Dynasty mode is playing against Miami or USC it’s going to be a lot harder than playing against Rutgers on their home turf. The bigger plays and better drives equals more crowd volume which can shake up a freshmen quarterback or make it unable to hear called audibles. It’s a great addition to the game and adds to the atmosphere 100 percent.

The Dynasty mode has been tweaked a little since last year, as well. For me, this is the meat and potatoes of the game so I’m always up for improvements. There is more room on the roster for additional players which can help with red-shirting players. Players can transfer to and from your school if they are unhappy with their current situation. Also, the NCAA monitors player discipline this year, so if one of your star wide-outs misses a couple of classes he better be suspended for a game or two or the NCAA is going to be on your tail for the next couple of years.

Gameplay hasn’t changed much. I found it a little easier to run the ball, but it seems to be harder to complete passes compared to last year. Like last year, the formation of your players can be switched at the line. Linemen, Linebackers and the backfield can all be switched independently depending on what play you think is going to be called. On offense you can still put men in motion to see if the defense is playing man to man or a zone defense.

The Matchup Stick is one of the best new features. It allows you to see the composure of every player on the field. For example, on defense, if you see that their whole offensive line is rattled, it might be a good time to go for the blitz because they’ll have a horrible chance of stopping you. Or on offense, if their safeties have had a couple of bad plays, feel free to throw over their heads; they’re going to make a mistake. Little things like this make the game seem completely new without even coming close to changing the engine.

EA has finally jumped on the Xbox Live bandwagon, and are now fully supporting it, with NCAA Football being their first title. Online play is brilliant. This is the game that made me go out and buy a year subscription to XBL. If you have a broadband connection, you owe it to yourself to play NCAA online.

The graphics have basically been untouched from last year. There are some minor additions, including games at sunset, more crowd animations and the new celebration/hitting animations but more work could have been done. Would Madden be released without major graphical upgrades? No, and NCAA should be no different. The sound is basically the same but the crowd noise adds so much to the game I cannot really ask for more. The crowd actually makes you feel like you’re in the stadium, which is a big plus for me.

I loved last year’s edition of NCAA Football and with all these minor improvements I love the 2005 version even more. Even though the graphics were a little disappointing it can be forgiven on account of all the gameplay improvements. If you’re a fan of last years (or any previous versions) stop reading this and go buy it right now. If you’re a fan of football at all, I highly recommend a purchase.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 9.5
Final: 8.5
Written by Chris Review Guide