Momentum is one thing that every sport, no matter how obscure it may be, has in common. No matter how hopeless the situation may be, all it ever takes is one play (or player) to turn the tide and provide the spark that could lift a team’s spirits. Nowhere is this seen more than in college football. On any given Saturday, any team can beat anyone provided they can get the momentum needed to get the ball rolling. This is the key element in EA’s latest installment of NCAA College Football.
The idea of putting momentum in sports games isn’t anything new or groundbreaking, but it is something that has never been perfected in a game. Rather than having to simply fill up a bar and unleash a powerhouse team, momentum will slowly build up as you are able to pull off positive achievements on the field (like converting on a crucial 4th and long situation). As the positives begin to build up, your team will slowly show signs of performing better until they eventually become energized and begin playing better.
In addition to a team’s momentum making a difference, Impact Players will also make a return and help you out when you need them the most. However, Impact Players won’t be quite as godly as they were in previous games. They’ll still be there when you need them though. Another addition is the option of being able to designate your own Impact Players based on Spring Practice Drills. If you notice that a certain no-name player has suddenly begun to improve his stats and step up his game during practice, you can name him as an Impact Player.
Race for the Heisman will also return with a few changes. EA is adding more of a “real world” feel this year since you’ll have to achieve off the field as well as on. After entering a school, you’ll have to declare a major and take tests. If you can’t keep your grades up, you can risk being suspended from games, which will hurt your prospects for the future. You’ll also have to worry about your social life.
One of the few modes that won’t see many major tweaks is Dynasty. A few flaws are being cleaned up and polished, but overall it should feel very comfortable for series' veterans. Aside from new, easier to use menus, the only major change is the addition of a Spring Game, which will give you a better idea of your teams' strengths and weaknesses.
NCAA 07 will also include new mini-games to help build your skills. Tug-of-War is a fight for yardage with the first team to score winning the game. Bowling has you trying to gain yardage against stiff defenses. Finally, Option Dash has you using the option to try and score before time runs out.
Better integration with ESPN is also in the works. In addition to returning elements like Sports Illustrated and ESPN Magazine covers, NCAA 07 will also include live streams from ESPN Radio and a ticker keeping you up to date with what’s going on in college football. The game will also include game-day picks from Lee Courso and Kirk Herbsteit.
Anyone entertaining thoughts of NCAA 07 being all bells and whistles will be happy to know that EA is also pumping up the game’s core mechanics. Playbooks are being reworked and will provide new plays as well as team-specific formations. Also, you’ll be able to provide better defensive protection and even take control of defensive ends during punts. Kicking is also being reworked to use an analog control reminiscent of golf games.
A.I. is also getting a makeover, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Players will be more aware of what other players are doing, making Spy plays more effective. The hope is that this will add a little more pressure to players who like scrambling quarterbacks. Offense is also getting some tweaks, such as running backs making better use of blockers.
NCAA Football 07 will be available for Xbox, PS2, PSP and Xbox 360. Each version should see the aforementioned improvements; though expect the 360 version to showcase visuals on par with last year’s 360 version of Madden. As with every installment of the NCAA series, expect to see notable landmarks from every stadium making their way into the game. Now if only they could get the yardage markers right in LSU’s Tiger Stadium…
Although Madden's first leap into the next-generation was a bit shaky, it looks like EA has done its work and is making sure that NCAA 07 doesn't hit the same snags.