NCAA Football 07 is the long running college football game by EA Sports. EA has always been the only place for college football nuts to get their fix and the people who always buy the latest updates of the NCAA franchise will not be let down with the latest installment.
The biggest thing that will strike you about NCAA is the graphics. The environments in the game look very sharp, from the stadiums down to the field. When you first load up a game, the camera will pan around the stadium. The crowd is really a site to see. It gives you that sense of scale of how many people are actually there to watch the game. Up close, they obviously are pretty low-resolution and do not look particularly impressive, though it’d be highly unfair to ask for too much detail when some stadiums hold 100,000 people. NCAA manages to create some of the best looking crowds yet in video games. However, the stadiums themselves are not as impressive as the crowds. Visually, they look fine, but some of the smaller colleges, it seems, are not modeled to what they actually look like. For example, the Central Michigan University stadium is much bigger than it really is and doesn’t have the landmarks included. It is a little strange why they omitted this, as NCAA Football 2005 for the Xbox had a realistic model of Kelly Shorts Stadium and even had the artillery rocket go off when Central Michigan scored a touchdown. However, the bigger college stadiums are all accurately modeled, although it is disappointing for EA to not have all of the stadiums accurate.
The character models all look pretty good, especially in the cut-scenes that are played in between plays. One problem with the character models, though, is the sheer lack of variety. For example, it seemed like the running backs all had the same face, just a different skin color. Even though EA cannot use player likenesses in the game due to NCAA regulations, it is strange that they could not have made a little more variety in their character models.
The game also animates pretty well, but is not without flaws. It gives you a nice variety of tackles, so it provides the player with some devastating looking hits as well as going a long way in making each play seem different. Also, some of the animations after a play has concluded are very nice, from an arrogant glare after a big hit, down to players looking to the sky after a touchdown has been scored on them. However, one problem I had with the animations was that the runners looked incredibly stiff when they ran. Their arms don’t seem to pump and their bodies seem to be static, despite how the shoulders would force the body to move. The effort that the players exude on the field is not captured extremely well in NCAA.
In terms of gameplay, NCAA Football 07 is in no way going to reinvent how you are going to play football games, but it gets the job done. One of the newest features of this year’s edition of NCAA is the “Momentum” feature. Basically, there are big plays that happen within games that effect how each team is playing. If you return the opening kick for a touchdown, chances are the momentum will swing all the way in your favor, and if the opponent does, it swings in their favor. There are small changes when you get a big yardage play, but for the most part, the biggest way to swing momentum is by scoring touchdowns. However, it never seems like the momentum feature affected the gameplay. It never seems to me that when I had all the momentum, it was making my team play better or the other team worse and vice versa. They might have had the receivers drop the ball more often when you had less momentum, but that is about the only thing that I could notice.
Speaking of the passing and catching game; that should be your offense of choice in NCAA Football 07, because it is the easiest way to get down the field. It is extremely easy to throw the ball through traffic, as the secondary defense is not terribly bright. For the most part, you can have a tight end or a receiver slant towards the middle of the field and if you time when they are going to slant good enough, it is almost a guaranteed reception. The rushing game is a mixed bag. Running up the middle usually results in you getting one or two yards, while getting to outside can net you a first down, or even a touchdown if you can turn the corner on the defense, because the AI rarely dives to try to tackle you on the default difficulty. Despite all these gripes, the game still all works despite its problems and is only a small annoyance.
NCAA Football 07 also makes use of the right analog stick in two ways; when you run and kicking the ball. When you run in the game, the right trigger controls the turbo while if you move the right stick to the right or left you will perform a “juke” move to that side, while pressing it down will make your runner stop in place for a bit if a tackler is overzealous. The kicking implementation is much better than the running feature, in that you will actually have to use it as an essential part of the game and it actually feels right and works. Using the jukes isn’t all that effective and the spin move you can pull off with the B button usually will get you by a defender if you don’t have anyone behind to gobble you up.
One of the biggest complaints that could be levied against NCAA is the lack of features. You have your basic play now option where you can quickly get a game in, a dynasty mode that can span 60 years, and a few mini-games. Although the dynasty will last you a really long time if you actually want to go through the 60 years, most people are not going to play the dynasty mode that long. Also, the mini-games are not terribly fun, as they are a small twist on the core gameplay and will probably only last you until you get the achievement points from them.
The audio in the game is done very well however. The sounds of the game give NCAA a tremendous amount of atmosphere. You can hear all the shouting before the snap, the crowds cheering and the “oomph” when you smash into a running back. The announcing team of Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler of ESPN College GameDay fame all do a fine job of calling the game. One of the coolest parts of the sound has to be the inclusion of the rally songs. It seems like all of the colleges have their respective songs included and it adds a lot to the overall presentation of NCAA Football.
The online portion of the game is handled pretty well. There have been reports of lag in the multiplayer, but in the games that I have been played online, there were never any problems with lag. However, it is still disappointing to see that EA has not implemented online leagues in the game, which would have added a ton of replay value. That said, the online is functional, just lacking options past the very cool “ESPN Ticker” that you can get which will update you on the latest scores in the real sports world.
Overall, NCAA Football 07 is a very solid game of football. While this game doesn’t have a lot of added content to give this as much replay as it could, the dynasty mode could last some a long time and has a lot of customization and micromanagement for people that really like to get into the meat of what college football is all about. Although it is not without its problems, the overall package is enough for college football fans to definitely buy this game.
Originally Written By: Art Green