College football season is right around the corner, and so is EA's season of college football action with NCAA 06.
The big addition to this year's game will be "Race for the Heisman" mode, where you follow the career of a college player from his freshman year all the way to his senior year. As the name implies, the ultimate goal is to win the Heisman Trophy, but in order to do this, your player will first have to prove his worth by winning a starter spot and putting up Heisman-caliber numbers on the field.
"Race for the Heisman" mode begins with you as a high school recruit with one shot to make it to a big-name college team. From here, you'll choose your player type and enter a mini-camp area where you'll take part in a series of mini-games designed to show how good you are at your chosen position. Nearly every position on the field is available, including quarterback, running back, wide receiver and linebacker. Sorry, no kickers. The better you perform at drills, the better the program. For example, if you're a running back and manage to put up some really incredible times, powerhouses like USC, LSU or Ohio State might come knocking. However, if you'd like, you can choose to become a walk-on at another "lower power" school, making some coach very happy. However, before taking the plunge and signing on with a team, you'll want to see who else in on the roster. A good quarterback isn't going to be a Heisman contender if he doesn't have receivers to catch the ball.
After selecting a school, you're given a dorm room that will act as sort of your "base of operations". The dorm room will act as a way to monitor just how well you're doing by allowing you to check your stats, read fan mail and see what the local papers are saying about you. From here, you'll also be able to check the "Hype" meter; fill it up and you've got a ticket to New York.
Other areas of the game have been expanded to reflect life in the NCAA. Recruiting will be a little more difficult than past years since you'll have to cope with both soft and hard commitments from players. A verbal agreement with a player won't guarantee that he'll join your squad next season.
Another in-game aspect is the Impact Player mode. Basically, these are your go-to guys who have the ability to turn the game around. Depending on which team you're playing as, you could have any number of impact players on a team -- all denoted by the white ring around their feet. When one of these players hits a hot streak, the ring will glow. While the ring is glowing, the player will be able to pull off high-impact moves that will be presented through a stop-action camera angle.
NCAA 06's improvements aren't limited to the field. The entire pregame show, which until now was presented through voice-overs and sweeping stadium shots, have been retooled and set up to resemble the College Gameday set, which includes the likenesses of Kirk Herbsteit, Brad Nessler and Lee Corso. Player celebrations and in-game moves (like tackles and cuts) have also be tweaked. Even the stadiums have been revamped, though it still remains to be seen if the changes will be enough to quiet sharp-eyed fans (okay...rabid fanatics...) who can point out if one blade grass is out of place.
So far, NCAA 06 is looking to deliver another great year of college football action. Look for it this July.