989 Sports

989 Studios


NCAA Final Four 2001 Review

By: John Doe

I don't much care for college basketball games. I don't know any of the players and if I'm going to commit to playing a sports title, I'll play an NBA title. College sports titles seem about as useful as Muppet Babies. If I want muppets, I'll watch the muppets. If I want basketball, I'll watch NBA. Sure this is great for all of the college kids to get their faces in a game, but who else is buying these college sports titles? I'm not, are you? If the game was incredible, maybe that would be another story. It isn't. It's very credible, almost bordering on uncredible.


First off, when talking about the gameplay, lets just say 989 Sports didn't exactly go all out when designing featres, modes, and options in this title. Rather than many other games of its ilk, NCAA Final Four 2001 has no gameplay modes then absolutely necessary. It has your generic exhibition, season tournament, arcade, and quickstart modes, but THAT'S IT. No custom modes, no additional features you expect to find by now, nothing like that at all. I guess the developers just decided "Hey that's all you really need to have in a basketball game, why make any effort to make this special or attempt to differentiate this from other sports games? This is enough." Not only did 989 Sports succeed in designing a generic, mediocre sports title in an already overcrowded market, but they didn't even get most of the basics right.

The game runs at a very high speed, but that's one of the only things you can really say are truly good about this game. Grabbing rebounds is just ludicrous in the game, because of the developers decision to make the ball physics ultra-realistic. Another unfortunate aspect of the game is the obvious problems in the computer players' AI. Both the CPU controlled teammates and the CPU controlled players on the opposing team simply don't react at all like they should much of the time. This makes you feel like your doing most of the work, since your computer teammates aren't going to help you out much, and also is incredibly frustrating since your computer opponents take full advantage of your crappy teammates and often go for easy dunks right past your incompetent buddies. Another major problem is that way too many fouls are called during a game, simply because of a poor foul detection system.

Some aspects of the graphics of NCAA Final Four 2001 as a whole just don't meet the standard of visuals of the PS2. And I'd like to know why that is? They certainly aren't unbearable, but compared to the rest of the games out there, frankly they just don't make the grade. The animation of the athlete's times appears extremely jerky and just unbecoming of a system as powerful as the PS2. Ditto with the textures and overall look of the players. But some aspects of the visual look pretty cool, like the backgrounds, and despite the problems with the animation, the frame rate overall stays pretty solid throughout. Overall, not great, but not terrible.

Like in the visual department, the sound has a lot of elements that could have been much improved. For one, the crowd sounds are repetitive and unrealistic, and the execution of many elements of the sounds aren't what they could be. For example, the fight songs are all excellent, but they just aren't played enough. But its not all bad. Many of the sound effects are very well done, like the squeaking of shoes, hoop swishes, etc. But the sound is not nearly as good as it could have been.

Overall, the game has a few redeeming qualities, with all its problems, you'd be better off to just play a superior basketball game on the PS2. And frankly, with the haphazard quality of this game, it's not hard to find a better one.






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