On July 14th, 2009, the social lives of many college football fans took drastic steps backward. Girlfriends stopped receiving phone calls, and wives pondered divorce. For on that day, NCAA Football 2010 was released. The world may never be the same again.
Never in the EA-based franchise's existence has the game been so complete. For many years, there have been aspects of the game that were holding it back, little things that needed to be tweaked. EA hit on many of those problems, and the result is a fantastic game unlike any thus far in the NCAA franchise.
For one, the game is seemingly much harder than in years past. It was far too easy to pass in 2009, and I think that developers realized that the gameplay was very unrealistic. In 2010, that is fixed. Passing icons disappear under duress, the pocket--yes, there is actually a "pocket" this time--collapses more frequently, rollouts are a relative thing of the past, players drop passes and the game does a remarkable job of implementing that without infuriating players too much. Sure, one of my close friends sent me a text message claiming he was going to "take this game back," but a few minutes later, he called to talk about some of the interesting features the game boasts now.
I think that a feature that has been overlooked by many thusfar is the pre-play defense adjustments. In years past, there was always some way to guess whether it would be a run or a pass, but the system has been revamped now. I urge you to try it if you haven't already. On third and long, if you tell your defensive players to expect a pass, it's highly unlikely that one will be completed. It really changed the game for me when I discovered this. Of course, as with most features in EA Sports games, you should use this wisely. Telling your D to play the pass could leave you open to a big run off of a draw just as playing a run could cause your defenders to over commit to a play action.
The brand new player lock feature is also quite good, but it's limiting to a probable fault. This feature, which is really only effective in single player mode, allows the user to "lock on" to a particular player if he feels he needs to use that cgi-rendered athlete to make a play. It changes the camera POV (directly behind the player) and really gives you a ton of control. The downside is that, once the play has started, you cannot control another athlete. Because of one's inability to control more than one player and the difficulty in seeing the play developing behind a player, it almost has to be done with a blitzing player. That means that if the opposing coach calls an outside run that doesn't go to your side, you simply have to watch as your linebackers and safeties flounder around trying to tackle the ball carrier. I haven't tried player lock on offense yet, but I have heard it's much better.
Now that they've implemented the new team builder system, the game has reached a level of customability which hasn't been available in quite a while. While I haven't started a dynasty or anything using a customized team, it is pretty cool how the editor is online (meaning you can use a mouse+keyboard to design the team as opposed to an XBox controller) and versatile enough to allow you to import your own logos. If I wanted to design a team with bright pink uniforms and Houston Nutt's face on the side of the helmets, I easily could.
Oh, and who can forget ERIN ANDREWS?! She not only gives injury updates as a sideline reporter, but she is also featured in the "new" Road to Glory segment of the game which, really, is nothing more than the "Campus Legend" feature from previous games with a new name. Still, ERIN ANDREWS! ERIN ANDREWS IS IN THE GAME! ERIN ANDREWS IN HER CLOTHED, NOT-BEING-LOOKED-AT-THROUGH-A-PEEPHOLE, FORM IS IN THE GAME!
Now a few specifics about the Rebs:
-The Wild Rebel has been implemented perfectly this year. Players have option of putting their HB1, HB2, WR1, or WR2 in at the "Dexter" position, making it easy to select who you want running the ball without significant roster manipulation. Also, the QB is actually lined up out wide now, so the WR passes work and serve a purpose in the playbook (unlike last year).
-Brandon Bolden's place in the game is very interesting too. In terms of attributes, his numbers leave a lot to be desired, but he somehow has the "it" factor. While his break tackle is less than Dexter's and his trucking is nothing to be boastful about, he plows into the line and grinds out yards with a punishing authority generally not captured in NCAA. He's out of my dynasty for a few weeks due to injury, and my offense is really hurting. If EA abilities are any indicator, Brandon Bolden is going to get a bazillion yards this season by pushing hapless would-be tacklers out of his way and stepping on their chests.
-Greg Hardy is a stud. I'm pretty certain he is one of the top defensive linemen in the entire game. On a 3rd and long type situation, it's a fun challenge to use the player lock on Greg to really get after the quarterback. With the new programming of the offensive line, you'll oftentimes see Greg earn a double-team which opens up holes for blitzers.
-Snead is solid. He's fairly accurate and is able to scramble for a few extra yards if and when the pocket collapses. If Shay or Breaux beat their man deep, Snead will usually be able to drop the ball right in their hands.
-As a returner, Marshay isn't nearly as good. He's not as shifty or fast as one would expect and rarely turns his tacklers into mincemeat like in real life. EA, you said that if it's in the game, it's in the game. WELL IT'S NOT IN THIS CASE, EA!
-The Powe-tron was added to the stadium this go-around. So that's pretty neat I guess.
-Overall, the team has the feel one would expect the Rebels to have this fall. The offense is predicated on the run and play action whereas the defense is predicated on stuffing the run and forcing the pass.
That's all I can muster off of the top of my head. Thoughts, opinions, observations?