reviews\ Jul 25, 2003 at 8:00 pm

NCAA Football 2004 - PS2 - Review

I cannot believe that it has already been a year since NCAA Football 2003 was released. That game is one of the best college football games I have ever played. I knew that there was going to be another version next year, but I thought there was no way Tiburon could top itself in terms of gameplay, graphics, and everything else; but I was dead wrong. Tiburon has improved on every aspect of last year’s game, and even added tons of new things including online play! This game is what college football is all about, go buy it now!

Tiburon has made college football games in the past and they keep upping the ante each time, and it really shows especially in this game. From the minute the game loads players are treated to the entire college atmosphere; from the bands music playing in the background, real life clips of cute cheerleaders, and a myriad of other tiny things. NCAA Football 2004 makes it feel that you are sitting at a college football game! Throughout the entire game players will get to see real life movies from different college games, which brings the game closer to home. One of my favorite things is how you can customize the entire game to your favorite team. So it is very nice booting up and seeing the University of Texas logo and hearing the fight. This simple aspect really means a lot to the entire game.

As always, the Dynasty mode for this game is one of the best things since sliced bread. Players can take any team, a real one or one they created, and see if they can take them all the way to the National Championship. Players are in charge of everything to make this happen, from hiring the right coaches, working the schedule, getting all of your strategies down, and many other things. When you are in off season, you can get rid of players, recruit new ones, train, cut, and do many other things to get ready for the next season. There are so many things to do that it takes almost a full year just to see and do everything that this game has to offer.

Besides playing a few
scrimmages and the ever filling Dynasty mode, players can participate in a few other game modes as well. The first is the College Classic games, where you can play the top 20 greatest college football games of all time. The next is the popular rivalry games, and almost every school has a few of those. See if you have what it takes to beat your toughest opponent. The last mode is the Mascot game, and this is one of my favorite things that has even more mascots than last years game. There is just something funny about seeing a team full of mascots playing to see who is the toughest.

An interesting feature in this game is the Sports Illustrated issues that players will receive each week after a game in Dynasty mode. This is a great addition to the game, and makes it feel much more realistic. Each issue shows the week for Dynasty rankings, standings, and awards that teams received. To top it off each issue has a different cover, new stories and you can see how often your school is on the front cover.

NCAA Football 2004 is the first game to use a new itme called EA Sports Bio. This is a really unique idea that EA has implemented into all of their sports games. The idea is that the higher points and the better that you do in the game, players will be rewarded with new stadiums, teams, and other goodies that makes the game even better. You might be thinking, ok, other games have stuff like this in them, but that is not the only thing that it does. If you have any other EA branded game you have the potential to unlock a lot of other goodies just from this game. This shows that EA is really caring for its customer loyalty by providing extra incentives to stay with the EA brand of sports games.

One of the newest, and best, features in NCAA Football 2004 is the online mode. I have a broadband Internet connection, and I never ran into any lag. Tiburon really made it possible for everyone to enjoy this game. Online players can meet other players in the lobby, play a game, check their stats, and do a variety of other things. There are a few unique things that Tiburon included while developing this game. The first one is the “EA Messenger”, which allows players to get buddies, store them, and see when they are online. Also included is “EA Sports Talk”, this means that if you have a headset you can talk smack with other players from around the US while playing a game. This is also a lot easier then using a keyboard, as nothing can beat actually talking to someone realtime. The last thing is the “Fair Play,” which helps tone down on the cheating that online games are plagued with.

NCAA Football 2004 is rated E for Everyone. It requires up to 3.2 MB on your memory card and can play up to 1-8 players (via multitap). To play online you must have the Network card and broadband or dialup. It also is compatible with AOL Dial-Up.

Gameplay: 9.8
I will say it once more: the PlayStation 2 controller is the best controller to play sports games with, and NCAA Football uses it to the fullest. The gameplay is extremely tight and the characters move with the slightest touch of the controller. Also the game is also pressure sensitive, meaning that the harder and longer you press the sprint button the faster the players will run. I didn’t think it was possible but this game is even better and more fun to play than last year’s game which is extremely impressive to me. The EA Tiburon development team deserves a huge round of applause for this game.

Graphics: 9.6
Contrary to popular belief the game does indeed look better than last year’s game. It features more detail, and even a slightly higher polygonal count. What is always improved with each version is the animation, and NCAA Football 2004 is no different. The players react in a more realistic way when they are getting tackled, running, or doing anything else. Also the stadiums are more detailed including more sideline and stadium animation.

As always the camera in this game is never a hamper! The camera control in this game is extremely smooth, and makes it easy to see what needs to be seen for the play to work out. The replays are some of the best looking I have seen in a game, and almost look realistic. Each year it is getting harder to tell the difference between the console games and the real ones.

Sound: 9.4
As always they make full use of Dolby Surround Sound, which brings the game closer to realism. The commentary is still extremely really well done and doesn’t get old or repetitive. This year there are a lot more crowd interaction, fight songs, and other things that give the feeling that you are sitting in a football stadium.

Difficulty: Medium

The game will be hard to any beginner, but as time progresses on, players will be able to adapt to how the computer AI plays. The AI keeps getting better and better, but it really cannot beat playing against another human.

Concept: 9.3

NCAA Football 2004 has improved leaps and bounds since last years version, which is surprising as I thought last year was the pinnacle of the college football experience. Everything that was in last year’s game has been improved upon leaps and bounds. The inclusion of the online mode, Sports Illustrated magazine, and the new EA Bio make this one of the best sports games, with high innovation. Great job EA!

Multiplayer: 9.8
First of all you can play up to eight players at home, or you can get online and play against someone from around the United States, this game cannot possibly get any better than this!

Overall: 9.6
You’re still reading this? Well if you haven’t gotten the point yet let me emphasis it once more: GET NCAA FOOTBALL 2004 IMMEDIATELY! This is the best college football I have ever played, and quite possibly the best football game I have ever played. This is one purchase you will not regret!


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