Review by jeremyw1976

Reviewed: 07/18/03 | Updated: 07/18/03

Not perfect Overall, but Online Play Rocks

After having this game for all of 3 days, I have to say I am completely addicted to it, but not for the reasons I thought based on last year's game. Not much has changed in the game from last year's version. You can still create a team, create a player, and build a dynasty, but the major improvements to this year's game come in the form of greatest games and online play.

Gameplay: 9.8
One of the best gameplay games yet. NCAA Football 2004 has improved the gameplay in subtle ways. The controls are basically the same as last year's version, but the overall feel of the game is better. For example when running a playaction pass, the camera stays on the RB just enough to fool a human opponent. The same applies to a draw play except this time the camera will fade out to make he play look like a pass and then all of a sudden ''up the gut'' it goes.
The DBs also have better AI than last year's game. No more throw it up for grabs anymore (like Moss and Owens on Madden 2003) and zone coverage actually works with defenders being able to actually knock down and even intercept the long ball. For those of you who played last year's game, you can now cover those lucky long balls that the CPU and other people throw in desperation.
I think the tackling is better and you can actually break tackles with skill and crawl for extra yardage. Of course the option is still fairly dangerous and exciting as in last year's game.
The only things I don't like about the gameplay so far is the kicking game and the play clock. You have to use the analog stick to line up your kick which isn't bad, but it could be in a hurried situation. Also the 25 second play clock combined with the fact that you can't hot route until your guys are set at the line makes changing plays at the line rushed. There are quite a few people who get delay of game calls online not because they are slow, just because they wanted to make some adjustments at the line.
Don't forget the endzone celebrations (read the manual on how to do them), but be careful you might get a unsportsman-like conduct penalty.

Graphics: 8.0
Not much of an improvement over last year, but in fact the online gameplay graphics are very smooth and much like the real game. A few added teams, stadiums, and mascots while interesting don't make the game. I do like the way the menus are setup in the game though.

Sound: 8.5
The hits and the announcers are solid, but very similar to last year's game. It would be hard to improve upon this part of the game though and that is why I gave it such a high score. Usually I would bash a game that didn't improve on every part of the game, but this I will let it slide. You might hear a few team specific chants, but for the most part you've feel like you are playing last year's game.

Replay Value: 10
If you like college football, the tradition and gamesmanship then you'll probably play this game for a long time trying out different teams, playbooks, creating players, building a dynasty, and did I mention online play. I don't want to sound like a commercial for EA sports, but I could play this game all year and still be intrigued. Don't rent this one unless you plan on crying when you have to take it back.

Online Play: 8.0
The best and worst of the game all in one. If you are lucky enough to have broadband and a headset (Logitech or the SOCOM one), you can trash talk while you play online which is totally worth every penny! I've noticed quite a few problems with the online menus though, like when you press select to see someone's information (their last 10 games, passing yards and such) it doesn't always show you the guy you have highlighted. You can get around this though and I never really found a good way to look at my own stats (last 10 games) without scrolling through everyone to get to me. So far there have been mostly good sports online, only one guy disconnected on me and he got penalized horribly for it.
Online play doesn't just keep track of your record and rank, it also keeps track of your stats per game on offense and defense. You can see the last 10 games anyone has played and make decisions about a possible challenge.
I really think that EA will make a solid effort to stop cheaters this year. You can only play certain settings online and they force you to punt in obvious situations (no more going for it on 4th and 20 at your own 35 yard line). There are still plug pullers out there though and sore losers so be careful no to expect to much.

Software: 6.5
So many bugs that jumped right out to me. Once my LB #35 recorded a sack and they gave the sack to LE #47. I've also seen an interception in the endzone be called a safety (as well as some being touchbacks). NCAA 2004 still has the old bug of flipping the formation before picking a formation making the play show up in the wrong direction. Also the back of manual says something about playmaker control, but I don't see anywhere in the manual on how to do it. You are supposed to be able to direct traffic down the field like point out blocks or change WR routes. Oh well, I guess EA forgot to put it IN THE GAME.

Overall: 8
Don't take this 8 in a bad way, this is best online sports game out right now for PS2. The talk feature is awesome, I am just very hard on games in general. Do not rent this because you'll only end up buying it. Hope to see some of you online. profile: Watts Online

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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