Do you realize that we're, what? A month from real, live, actual football? Four short weeks (or so) from that amazing first full-slate Saturday? Well, we are. And yes, it's awesome. There's something about the start of college football season, the endless possibility that any one of the 120 teams in the FBS can win a national championship (unless, of course, they don't play in a BCS Conference) that makes it more fun than pro football, in it's own weird, round robin kind-of way. Hitting the gym early in the day and loafing around the rest of the afternoon, flipping between games, catching a second wind just in time for the west coast games to start? That's the good stuff. So now that EA Sports has rolled out NCAA Football 10, football nerds like me have something to tide them over until the actual college football season begins. Finally, football. Even if it is in video game form. Thankfully, this year's game is way better than last year's, for three reasons.
One of the biggest additions to NCAA Football 10 is Teambuilder, a very ambitious, web-based, create-a-team mode. You do everything online, from picking a logo, either from the pre-loaded FCS teams (fans of Richmond, Delaware, and Appalachian State, FTW) or from any picture you can find, to designing a uniform, to editing your roster. Make your high school, your tiny little D-III alma mater (GO BOMBERS), or, I don't know, a team called the Ninjas or the Sharks or the Horses, or something.
And, in any mode, you can now fully customize your uniforms, too. No more pre-loaded home and away settings, with an alternate thrown in if your lucky, even though those placeholders are still selectable. Pick your pants color, jersey color, and cleat color, and mix and match as you please. You'd be surprised how satisfying it is to go from long white socks to low black socks, unless, of course, we share a similar disorder. Even on the fly, EA's has focused on letting you adjust your experience. With Game Planning, you can instruct your team to play differently in individual areas like tackling, receiving, and rushing the passer, amongst a bunch of others. Do you want your guys to jump the snap, or play it conservatively? Try and strip the ball or aim for a big hit? Head downfield on a broken play or come back on a button hook? Change your strategy before each half and after every play.
The Little Things
It's amazing such subtle changes to the series have left me so much more satisfied with this version than last year's game. The camera angle on offense moves up and back slightly, opening up the field a bit more. You have to set your feet to make a good, strong throw - no more heaving it back against your body for a 40-yard gain every play. Passes get tipped at the line of scrimmage and flutter to awkward landings. The game just seems to flow a little bit better. There's barely-noticeable tweaks to the presentation act like glue, stringing plays together better than before. And with the new camera angles and cuts, plus a new, sleek display on the bottom of the screen, you feel as though you're getting a true experience, not playing through a robotic video game.
I've found this to be one of the most fun parts of NCAA Football 10. You can switch to anyone, during any play, and click the right stick to lock on that player. The camera will swing around behind you if you select a guy on defense, giving you a whole new look at lining up on that side of the ball. With new controls for rushing the passer (directional pushes on the right analog stick correspond to power or finesse moves), and an improved pocket, it's worth your time to play on the defensive line, which was a part of the game that had been lacking. This is the way to play the new Road to Glory mode, which chronicles your player's four-year career in college football with ESPN reporter Erin Andrews.
Do you agree? Disagree? Yell at me in the comments.