Video Game Review: NCAA Football 08

Hey nerdlinger, put down the Harry Potter book because NCAA Football 08 is here! And yes, I had to fight through two screaming fans just to get a copy so yours truly could review it.

There were many questions in the weeks before its hyped-up release: Why the hell did they put Jared Zabransky on the cover and not Tim Tebow? Can Tim Tebow fly in the game? Would Tim Tebow win three Heismans in Dynasty Mode or just two? Which is better, Campus Legend Mode or Tim Tebow Mode? Well, guess what: I have all those answers and more. Actually, just one answer: Tim Tebow sucks.

My first task in reviewing the game was to play a regular, five-minute-quarter game with my cohort. He chose Auburn and I played with unstoppable Notre Dame.

First Quarter: Auburn fumbles on the kickoff and I recover. First play from scrimmage, Evan Sharpley throws an ND touchdown (Seems like the guys at NCAA 08 don’t expect Jimmy Clausen, a/k/a “JC Superstar,” to get the Irish QB job this year.)

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Second Quarter: It gets a bit more defensive. And the new features become more visible. Deep passing is a lot harder than in NCAA 06 or 07, which makes the game a turnover fest, both in fumbles and INTs. Auburn completes a few passes to make a field goal and we go into halftime Loyal Sons of Notre Dame 7, Auburn “Don’t need to go to class to play footbaw” Tigers 3.

Third Quarter: My friend gets some really bad luck from his receiving corps, having about five dropped passes this half. While receiving is more interesting in 08 (there are many plays you can choose that have a back or receiver go in motion), there are a lot more dropped passes, as in NCAA 05.

Fourth Quarter: Thanks to some big plays by my secondary, I get to use a new feature called Motivation, which is similar to the Momentum feature on last year’s game. Although the score stayed close for most of the game, I pull away to make the final score 21-3.

Now on to the other features: This edition of NCAA has a thing called My Shrine instead of My NCAA. It’s literally a shrine to your accomplishments on the game including Greatest Games, Victory Patches, records and more. It also allows you to take pictures of any of your plays from Instant Replay and store them.

I played this game on PS2, not PS3 or Xbox 360, and I was disappointed to find out they didn’t share a lot of the features I thought they would. For example, on one of the next-gen systems you can actually play as a high-school prospect in the state championship playoffs and get recruited in Campus Legend Mode, but not on PS2.

There are, however, improvements on the PS2 Dynasty Mode, such as more detailed recruiting, where you have to make promises to a player like giving him a specific jersey number or playing time. Also, there are pre-season workouts like there are on the Madden franchise, where you can improve your team with drills before the season.

Overall I thought EA could’ve added more features to the PS2 version, but the improvement was visible and it’s still a great game to play.

Three quick notes:

1) After you play a game you get a “report card” that grades your passing, rushing, catching, tackling and covering. All of these are averaged into your profile.

2) Lee Corso’s comments are still as witty as they ever were.

3) I simulated a season for UH and UT in Dynasty Mode. UH won the C-USA conference and the Liberty Bowl. Texas went 8-4 and had a loss to Rice. But they did beat down Central Michigan in the Armed Forces Bowl. wOOt!!!! -- Patrick Connelly

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