E3 2003: NCAA March Madness 2004 Hands-on Impressions
I was seriously impressed with NCAA March Madness 2004. I had my reservations considering how the game played in the past, but Electronic Arts seemed to refine many areas to improve the game. In terms of graphics, the game is right up there with the NBA Live series. Playersí likenesses are very recognizable, despite the lack of names for players. I played as Syracuse and could identify every player from the National Championship squad. The moves possessed by players were dependent on skill and were very well executed. Skillful players really dominated the game with spin moves and crossovers, and I utilized these abilities by either scoring with the specific player or dishing out to the perimeter. However, shooting isnít over simplified and you cannot count on hitting a three point shot every time. Also, impossible shots rarely fall in, so finding the open player is vital.
The atmosphere is brilliant and nicely demonstrates the NCAA. Although Iíd still have to give the edge to NBA Live 2004, March Madness has really made some strides to appeal to the college basketball fan. Another portion of the game that I enjoyed was the fact that when driving to the hoop it wasnít an offensive foul every time. As many of you may have noticed with other basketball games, the number of offensive fouls can become frustrating and unreal. This was certainly not the case in March Madness 2004, as the game controls nicely and realistic. Defenders usually have their arms in the air and are somewhat riding the player as they drive, which is comparable with actual college defense. My one complaint that I noticed while I played was defensive AI concerning rebounds. I would highlight a player and jump for the rebound as it came off the rim; however, if I didnít grab the rebound my teammates never seemed to help me. They would stand flat-footed and refuse to go for the rebound. The only way they would gain the ball was if it literally landed right in front of them. I personally expected each player to compete for the rebound, but that was not the case. Although this isnít a huge downgrade on the game, many of you who play the title will be continually yelling, ďGet the ball!!Ē Whether you get the basketball or not is up for issue; however, what is not up for issue is the fact that EA has seriously improved NCAA March Madness for its audience.
5/14/2003 Matt Stensrud