New NCAA Football raises bar
By Scott Meuleners / STUDENT PUBLICATIONS
NCAA Football 2003 has increased graphics, as well as an option to change details to correspond to your favorite team.
The world of sports console video games is filled with few stars. NCAA Football 2003 for PlayStation 2 is one of those stars. EA Sports picks up where last year’s installment of the franchise left off with a football simulation like no other on the market.
EA Sports and developer Tiburon built the game on the next generation Madden NFL engine, but NCAA Football 2003 brings the added excitement and pageantry of the college game.
The staple of the game is the tremendous gameplay. Tiburon has a very complicated, but functional, football engine that shows great attention to detail in both passing and running offensive mechanics. The detailed playbooks have a wide variety of formations based upon the offensive strengths of the team the user chooses.
What sets this game apart from other football titles is the extensive Dynasty mode. NCAA Football 2003 effectively captures the dynamics of real college team management. Among the new features is the “Trophy Room,” where the user can view real-life individual and game trophies.
During the off-season, the user can export that year’s draft class and then import it into the Franchise mode of Madden NFL 2003. Tiburon has improved upon the already good recruiting system, where each team gets a certain number of points based on a team’s prestige and performance during the previous year, by increasing the point value of recruiting players farther away from the user’s college.
The visuals of the game are vastly improved upon last year’s version. They are similar to Madden’s with an increased number of facial mappings and textures. The framerate is consistently high, only slowing when all twenty-two players are visible on the screen, like in goal line situations.
The player models are also detailed with improved facial expressions and moving eyes. Players can be completely customized from name to physical traits to equipment. NCAA Football 2003 also features improved lighting effects with visible changes in reflections on helmets, as well as different lighting depending on time of day and weather conditions.
Sound effects give the subtle touches that round out this fine football title. The commentary is much improved, with new commentary and better correlation between game events and comments by the team of Brad Nessler, Kirk Herbstreit, and Lee Corso. Another nice touch is that there are fight songs and chants for all Division 1A teams. Thus, after Tech scores a touch down you hear, “Up with the White and Gold” and “Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech.” Likewise, the menu screens can be customized to your favorite team with that team’s colors, mascot, and fight song.
NCAA Football 2003 has set the bar for all other sports titles to measure them by. While based on the Madden NFL engine, the small details only seen in college football put this game equal, if not better, than the Madden NFL series. The replay value is high thanks to the extensive Dynasty mode and Create-a-School feature. NCAA Football 2003 achieves as close to perfection as a sports game can approach.