Replay Value: 8.5
A lot of you guys are enjoying Madden NFL 10 now, so you may not care as much about this overdue NCAA Football 10 review. Although, on the other hand, a lot of you football fans are double-dippers and enjoy handing EA money just to enjoy the newest professional and college releases every year. And with good reason, too. Both Madden and NCAA are consistently solid sports games that offer a lot in terms of value and improvements. This year, NCAA boasts a rather cool mode called Road to Glory, and it's worth a look.
Road to Glory is a core mode within the game, and is a pretty innovative approach to the status-quo career mode where you take a created player through a series of challenges, events, etc. and prepare him for the big leagues. While you still have a created player you have to take control of, the presentation here is done in the form of a television program, and Erin Andrews chronicles your journey. It's a very well done approach to a formula that is slowly getting stale within the genre, and I commend EA for doing something original.
Now, basic gameplay has remained largely the same. I will admit that I'm not a very big sports gamer, but that doesn't mean I can't spot genuinely problematic issues with a sports game. That said, NCAA 10 boasts the same fluid changes that have made Madden a more enjoyable title for the past few years now. NCAA games typically follow the changes of the previous Madden game, but this time around, NCAA feels just a bit more refined in how it plays, compared to last year's Madden 09. The running game seems to be consistently more realistic, where as last year's Madden had a tendency to have unusually weird openings. With that in mind, the running game is also a lot more difficult, so don't expect to be gaining serious yardage without some very well thought out planning.
Passing remains solid, but perhaps the A.I. is overly aggressive at times, as I've noticed interceptions are fairly common on both ends. Play calling remains solid, and allows the gamer to choose between play selection styles - so you can pick a play by using one of four buttons, or highlight and select it using X. Now, as far massive game changes go, it's hard to say that NCAA Football 10 is a leap forward. It's a good step forward...but a leap it isn't. So if you're the frugal type who can't justify spending money every year on, what most may consider, moderate changes, you're best bet is to wait it out and hold on to your copy of NCAA 09.
In any case, that doesn't mean that NCAA 10 is bad, it's just not a massive leap forward. Likewise, if your last NCAA game was '08, then '10 would surely be a worthy upgrade for you. There are quite a number of things to do here, including the ability to create a custom team, on-the-fly game adjustments, Season Showdown, Dynasty, Online Dynasty, mini-games (bowling, horse, tug-of-war, etc.), Mascot Mash Up, and more. I do like the presentation of the game, especially the game introductions with the marching bands and all of the authentic formations, on top of the crowds.
Visually, EA took an understandable shortcut here with the audience. Because a vast majority of NCAA spectators wear the jersey of their home team in real life, the seating area is filled with the a very limited color palette. Understandably so, the crowds in the game do just the same. But unfortunately, instead of at least modeling different types of people wearing the same jersey, we get the same exact male and female model spread all throughout the stadium...and these aren't very good looking models either. If you can get past that, and you should, you'll find an otherwise good looking game with very good animation, player details, and yes, nice grass. What some replay-whores may notice is poor collision detection, where players will occasionally find their limbs or their bodies colliding through another, I was somewhat surprised to see this not corrected. But, thanks to the framerate running at a cool 60, NCAA Football 10 definitely does more right than wrong.
A common problem with the commentary of NCAA games in general has been their dullness. Because publishers are not allowed to profit from the likenesses of NCAA athletes, they cannot use their names, and must refer to them by position or player number. This gives a monotonous quality to the commentary, something most of you expect by now. It doesn't make the commentary bad, per se, but it's certainly not special. On the other hand, EA continues to boast some really fantastic crowd noise, with cheers and chants that'll rock your speakers - it's very good stuff.
Just as you'd expect, NCAA Football 10 is yet another fine entry into EA Sports' catalog of quality games. To the hardcore, NCAA 10 is worth the upgrade with its all new Road to Glory mode, in addition to the mini-games, the teambuilder, online dynasty, and so forth. Certain aspects of presentation are lacking, such as the commentary, but the game does make up for it with great stadium roars, and authentic marching band introductions. It may not be the largest upgrade over its predecessor, but NCAA Football 10 is a game sports fans will want to own.