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 Canada (Tiburon / Team Fusion) 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
For Only the Hardcore
by Pete Richards

Though it has been a couple of years since NCAA Football has graced the PSP, not much has changed in the meantime. It's still the same game you remember, albeit with a few new features added to give PSP owners enough reason to do away with their 07 version and pick up 09. However, depending on how eager you are to have the latest college football game on your handheld, small differences may not be enough to sway more casual fans of the series.

NCAA Football 09 screenshot

The newest addition to the game is what EA calls Freshman Mode, which is a simplified quick game for those less familiar with NCAA Football gameplay. It automatically recommends play setups for you by flashing their choice, similar to the Ask Madden feature in their NFL series. Also in Freshman Mode, injuries, fatigue, and penalties are completely shut off and field goals require nothing more than hitting X to get a perfect shot every time. Playing as the QB, instead of marking individual players with different buttons for passing, X will pass to any player and when you hit it, you will automatically pass to the most open man to ensure you get it in his hands. On the defensive end, fumbles and interceptions are frequent and will have you quickly returning back to offense. The mode is also available on the PS2 version, though it's called Family Play and is obviously intended for children and people who don't normally play video games. Freshman Mode, however, on the PSP is actually a bit too easy when played solo and it makes me wonder about the importance of including it on the handheld. It's not likely that children would be interested in playing an NCAA Football game or you'd be getting your family involved on your PSP, though I suppose it's a nice option for those just learning how to play. It definitely is a less stressful alternative to the standard modes included in the game.

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For those who know the ins and outs of NCAA and football titles alike, the rest of the modes require you to use all the buttons you can handle on offense and defense and lots of formation possibilities. There are lots of modes to try out as well, though nothing out of the ordinary. Dynasty Mode allows you to do all the things you would expect, as you build your franchise from the ground-up. There's also the returning Campus Legend, Points Pursuit, Rivalry Game, a Practice Mode as well as online capabilities and a few other things to toy around with. Playing a normal game in any of the other several modes will have you making good use of all your buttons while quarterbacking, running with the ball, kicking, defending the line and in pursuit, calling audibles and doing all the things it takes to win. If you're already familiar with the very in-depth button setup, you will have no trouble getting back into the swing of things after the two-year hiatus of playing NCAA Football on the PSP.

NCAA Football 09 screenshot

One thing I did notice is how difficult it can be to get a pass off from your QB. The mechanic for passing seems to be incredibly slow, and you'll find that you will sometimes have to wait a couple of seconds for your QB to release the ball after you hit a pass button. When under serious pressure from the defense, you may have to pass it off before you are ready to avoid getting sacked knowing how leisurely the QB throws. I'm not sure if this is a framerate issue with the amount of on-field activity or just the QB's animation, but it took several times of getting blitzed after rapidly hitting the same button to get rid of the ball before I realized something was up.

NCAA Football 09 screenshot

Screenshots / Images
NCAA Football 09 screenshot - click to enlarge NCAA Football 09 screenshot - click to enlarge NCAA Football 09 screenshot - click to enlarge NCAA Football 09 screenshot - click to enlarge

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