Let me start by saying I’m not one of those gamers that buys a new copy of Madden every year. I fail to see the point, considering the minimal updates. Nor am I the type that insists on comparing similar games in an attempt to tear apart one to elevate the other. With that said, I’ll try not to compare Madden and NCAA 10. For this review, I borrowed the 360 version from a friend. And may I say I am so glad I didn’t buy the game. Now I understand why he was so willing to loan it to me.
Jumping right in for a touchdown? I don’t think so.
You know what’s fun? Pressing the start button and playing a video game. You know what’s not fun? Pressing the start button and cycling through twenty minutes of pointless menus and windows.
“Can I play now? Oh… Still gotta do that… Okay, what about now? Nope? Fine… How about now? Still not finished? Maybe I’ll just grab my DS while I wait.”
The game loves to make you wait. On the one hand the game offers you a staggering amount of options, but they simply aren’t seamless. You’ll feel your eyelids growing heavy as you simply try to tap your way through useless panel after panel.
Numerous game modes and potential tweaks are nice, but it’s overall much more shallow than it wants you to realize. By the time you’re halfway through the tedious start-up, you’ll feel like just getting the disc out and playing something else. Also, that DS joke from earlier? I’m completely serious. I ended up turning on my DS and playing some Mario Kart while I waded through the idiocy.
Gameplay and Ai are not team players!
I hate to do this, but I have to compare NCAA 10 to Madden for this one. Let me start by saying I never played Madden until it made the jump to Wii. It gave the series a much-needed breath of fresh air. Motion controls and IR support turned out to be improvements of epic proportions for the long-running football giant. Now playing NCAA 10 on the 360 has made me miss the Wiimote at every turn.
Put quite simply, the controls are an impossible combination of unresponsive and too sensitive. A paradox for the ages. The buttons on the 360 controller are infamous for being sluggish and unrewarding, but sports games have become the pinnacle of failure for the system. The Microsoft machine simply can’t handle the twitch reactions required to successfully run a sports game (or fighting game for that matter, but that’s for another review).
It passes too late, it changes direction with a delay, and it has trouble registering more advanced procedure. Yet the annoying 360 analog stick has a habit of being too sensitive. The slightest twitch can cause your player to bend inward in an involuntary quick turn. You’ll fill with frustration as you lose yards because of impassive controls. The 360 controller simply isn’t suited for anything that isn’t a shooter.
The Ai seems to suffer from the same disease as the controls. Whereas in Madden the Ai has always been seen as top-notch, NCAA 10 has another failure on its hands. The CPU ranges from brokenly easy to brokenly difficult. For the sake of argument, let’s just say it’s broken. New to the series is the ability to chart out plays. Yet even if you select a genius play handed down straight from the heavens, the Ai can completely cheat you out of your victory. Conversely, the CPU can select the most illogical play and succeed- or fail miserably, it fluctuates between the extremes. The game pretty much cheats for the Ai team — referees and all.
Graphics over gameplay? Typical.
One of the game’s few star players is starting to get old. Graphics. The game looks great and crisp, but… it looks exactly like last year’s version, which looked exactly like the one before that. See what I’m getting at? This one suffers from the same issue as Madden when it comes to subpar new versions. There’s also the awkward player motions that have gone unfixed for years. Arms and legs bend ways they shouldn’t and the ball releases look… disturbing. Overall, it’s obvious that -like most 360 developers- EA Sports cares much more about looks over sustenance. This new drive toward HD graphics ruling over gameplay has got to stop… On an off note, the cheerleaders look creepy. Like acrobatic zombies in make-up and short skirts.
Technical issues- oh no! Let’s just play a baseball game… on a different console.
The 360 is synonymous with technical problems- scratched discs, freezing, overheating, controller shorts, and the notorious Red Ring of Death: total system failure. Its games are steadily being afflicted with this VTD (virtually transmitted disease.) Twice upon starting the game up it froze with a loud, annoying buzz sound. The disc was in fine condition, I can’t say what the problem was. I encountered several bugs from twitchy character models, floating defenders, and on one occasion the ball turned invisible for an entire play. I’d also like to add my 360’s power light briefly turned red and shut down during a play session. Frightening stuff. In short, unless you love college football more than you love life itself, stick with Madden. On the Wii for that matter.