|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Canada||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: July 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|
After attending E3 2008 and getting some hands-on time with Madden NFL 09 All-Play for the Wii, I was excited to sit down and play NCAA Football 09 (NCAA 09) All-Play. The Madden title had some really interesting concepts and some simple, yet fun gameplay. Unfortunately, the All-Play version of NCAA 09 did not capture any of that magic. I was forced to slog through game after boring game with the poor controls, mediocre graphics, and dearth of gameplay options.
First, the visuals in NCAA 09 are very minimalistic. There are literally no details whatsoever. The brutal menu interface features player cut-outs and ugly two-tone backgrounds of my favorite team. Furthermore, all the magic and pageantry associated with college football is foiled by the featureless stadiums, pop-up horizons, flat crowd sprites, and empty sidelines. Thankfully, the player animations and look of play is sufficient to make the game playable, but don't expect anything that resembles quality. All in all, this game is definitely in the lower tier in terms of visuals on the Wii.
After forcing myself to look past the poor visuals, I took an extensive look at the game's controls. There are two control schemes from which you can choose. The vaunted All-Play controls make playing NCAA 09 very user-friendly for fans of all ages. And by all ages, I mean three and four year olds can join in the fun. All the controls are basically tasked to shaking the Wii Remote, with movement being part and parcel of the Nunchuk's analog stick. Shaking and swinging the Wii Remote about will let players block passes, perform power and swim moves, activate the option, kick and pass the ball, etc. After playing several games with All-Play controls, I became very bored, but I was also encouraged by just how accessible they were.
Sadly, I was smacked in the face by the only slightly more complex and equally boring Advanced Controls. Advanced Controls actually detect whether you swing the controller forward for power moves, or if you swing the remote to the right or left to pitch the ball, but that's about it. These same motions are used over and over again, and only specific situations dictate the action that is performed. In other words, All-Play controls are excellent for very young gamers, but Advanced Controls are very clunky and repetitive for anyone with a decade under their belt.
The sounds in NCAA 09 are about the best feature of the title, but they too aren't without their flaws. The voice over work is done by Nessler, Herbstreit, and Corso, but the sound quality seems distant and not very crisp. Similar to last year's Madden on the Wii, fun, play-calling sounds come out of the Wii Remote while at the line. Unfortunately, these sounds also encompass terrible coaching commands that are shouted at you at the most ridiculous times. For example, if the play clock gets down to 10 seconds, you'll hear, "Watch the clock!" Or, if you "only" have a minute remaining in the half, your remote will shout, "Call a timeout!" All together, sounds are unimpressive and at times frustrating, but they still seem to be one of the better parts of this package.