NCAA Football 09 Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii | PSP
NCAA Football 09 box art
System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA Tiburon 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: EA Sports 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Jul. 15, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

But, the most important change to Dynasty is found in the online features. For the first time, players can join up with up to 11 other friends. Playing and recruiting against your buddies feels like an interactive fantasy league. Furthermore, progress you've made online or at home can be imported directly to an offline or online dynasty, respectively. This is an excellent feature that really integrates players' experiences and won't halt your progression if offline play has lost its luster or your friends have succumbed to your online mastery.

NCAA Football 09 screenshot

Disappointingly, Campus Legend mode hasn't seen any upgrades. Taking on a high school athlete midway through their senior season or creating one from scratch, getting them scholarships, make the transition to the college game and lifestyle, and then becoming a campus legend is still loads of fun and quite compelling, just don't expect any upgrades from last year.

I was surprised at just how good the Mini-Games mode is this time around. Familiar games include Option Dash, Bowling, and Tug of War. Option Dash has players start from their own 20 and awards them points for yards gained, touchdowns, pitching the ball, and keeping it. The object is to score as many points as you can in a two minute time limit. Bowling has players start at their opponent's 10 yard line. If you score on first down, you get a strike. If you score on second down, you get a spare. Anything else just gives you a single point for each yard gained. Tug of War is all about field position and starts with the ball at midfield. Each player is only given one down before the ball is turned over to the opposition. The first player to score a touchdown wins. The new featured mini-games include Horse and Special Teams Challenge. Horse pits kicker against kicker. You get to choose where to place the ball, if you make it, then the other player must make the kick or gain a letter. Similar to Tug of War, Special Teams Challenge gives each player one down to work with. The difference is that this down must be used to punt or kick a field goal. The first player to run one back or split the uprights wins. All these modes are very addictive and produce more than their fair share of thrills.

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I've never really liked the Mascot Mash-Up mode. It seems kind of trite to play a standard game of football just with mascots rather than players. Thankfully, the developers must have felt the same way. These years's Mascot Mash-Up, excuse me - Coke Zero Mascot Mash-Up, has added in a bunch of crazy, almost Mario sports-like moves including flips that help bring a bit more levity and interest. Although, I doubt you'll play it more than once.

Presentation in EA Sports' NCAA Football titles has always been incredibly important. Happily, NCAA 09 follows suit and even improves upon previous offerings. The visuals are crisp and the animations are very fluid. The excellent rendering of stadiums, mascots, cheerleaders, and school-specific background art captures the spirit and pageantry of college football. Plus, the sounds and school fight songs make for some of the best audio in the entire industry. There really is nothing like a marching band to get you all riled up! Love 'em or hate 'em, Herbstreit, Nessler, and Corso lend a ton of authenticity. And this year, as an added bonus, you can actually set up custom stadium sounds. That means players can create playlists of their own music and set an in-game trigger for the sounds to begin playing. For example, after a score, a Colorado alumnus like me could plug in "Rough 'em, Rough 'em up, Go C.U.!" Are you beginning to see the possibilities?

When all is said and done, NCAA Football 09 is just the next game in a long line of great games. If you are content with the version you already have, then there isn't enough staggering new content to warrant an upgrade. However, this is the best game in the franchise to date, and I'm glad I made the switch.

By Jonathan Marx
CCC Editor / News Director

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.2
Graphics
Everything looks crisp and detailed. The animations are particularly fluid. Every once in a while things get mucked up by random framerate shuddering.
4.6
Control
Silky smooth! All of the functions can be remapped to your preference, and the improved feints and jukes mechanic is a welcome addition.
4.8
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sounds are nearly perfect in every way. However, the constant replaying of my alma mater's fight song drives my wife crazy!
4.1
Play Value
If you love college football, then you're in for a real treat. The inclusion of online dynasties is a great feature.
4.2
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • What is Wide Open Authentic College Gameplay?: Make unforgettable plays by taking advantage of huge running lanes and utilizing personnel mismatches as you pick apart soft zone coverages in the passing game. Fake out the defense with a directional pump fake as you scamper for a big score. Test out the new defensive tackling system that ensures variety, realism, and smoothness with every authentic college animation.
  • The All-New Online Dynasty: Play a complete revolutionary dynasty experience online with 60 years of continuous play. Online Dynasty includes full recruiting, redshirts, stats, NCAA news, custom schedules and more. Up to 12 players across the nation can compete in your dynasty, so invite your friends to join and launch your legacy. It's as easy as running a Fantasy Football League!
  • All-New Dynamic Gameplay Engine: Break in and out of jukes, stiff arms, and spins in a swift, fluid motion. Steer a player in mid-move in any direction with the analog stick.
  • Home Field Advantage Makes its Next Gen Debut!: Composure is the key when in a hostile environment. When rattled, question marks will replace the button icons for receivers during pre-play and squiggly lines will replace the field routes.
  • What is College Atmosphere?: Revel in the spirit of game day with crowds decorated in school colors and sidelines packed with energetic mascots and cheerleaders as team specific sounds like cannon blasts and chants keeps the energy high after every score.
  • What are Custom Music and Sounds?: Upload your personal music and sounds from your hard drive in more than 20 user-defined situations to create custom in-game atmosphere authentic to your favorite school.
  • Fun with Mascots!: Switch up your game with an arcade style of mascot vs. mascot and discover unique special moves like summersaults and back-flips as you go for the score. In regular game modes, score a touchdown and enjoy interactive celebrations with your favorite mascot, you can even trigger school-specific celebrations with the touch of a button!
  • Smart play-by-play with Kirk Herbstreit, Brad Nessler and Lee Corso will make every minute feel like college football Saturday.


  • Screenshots / Images
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