‘NCAA Football’ game thrills fans despite glitches, Lee Corso

Volunteer hour The University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium is just one of more than a hundred authentic stadiums featured in “NCAA Football ’09”

Josh Rouse

The coach calls in the play, and the quarterback breaks the huddle. The defense makes hurried adjustments, trying to line up correctly before the ball is snapped. Linebackers yell blitz assignments and the defensive backs change their coverage. The quarterback watches the defensive line calmly, like a general surveying the battlefield, looking for a weakness.

He begins his cadence, hoping to catch someone off guard, and a defensive tackle takes his bait. The center snaps the ball, then slams into the unfortunate lineman with bone-crushing force as the quarterback takes three steps back and launches the pigskin to a wide-open receiver for the win. The crowd goes wild!

Scenes like this should be familiar to those who have purchased the recently

released edition of EA Sports’ “NCAA Football ’09,” thanks to a more advanced artificial intelligence that makes 80-point blowouts a thing of the past. Even the varsity difficult level, which is the default setting, is a challenge for gamers in the beginning.

However, behind the flashy facade of one-point nail-biters that can be won or lost by a kickers’ confidence in the clutch, an array of glitches puts a damper on an otherwise excellent game.

Some glitches that I’ve experienced so far while playing the game are plays being overturned when they shouldn’t be overturned, such as an interception by a defender while standing up straight being called an incompletion by the booth, as well as various graphical glitches, one of which included a defensive player magically teleporting out of the way of an oncoming runningback and opening up a hole for a 20-yard gain.

Putting aside the annoying

glitches, the game experience

is both exciting and authentic, although several excellent scenes have been cut from the pre-game festivities and the coin-flip. Of course, Lee Corso is still one of the “analysts,” so listening

to him say the same recycled lines from three or four years ago gets old. The one good thing about the virtual version of Lee Corso is that he doesn’t say KU will lose every game,

though they are grossly underrated as a team.

EA Sports has always been known for certain biases when it comes to rating teams, and this year is no different.

One of the largest controversies,

especially in this region, is how Kansas got rated as 77 overall, while Missouri got rated in the 90’s with a defensive rating also in the 90’s. I’ve even talked to Missouri fans who admitted

that Kansas got dissed by EA, and that a 90+ defensive rating for Missouri is generous to say the least, but the good thing about EA Sports games is that players skills can be manually adjusted to make up for their incompetence.

The franchise mode is deep this year, with a drastically different style of recruiting than in years past. Rather than assigning a certain percentage of time to each recruit,

you are now given a time limit each week that you can spend on the phone with recruits. You can use this time to offer scholarships, converse over different talking

points, set up a visit and find out what the recruit is interested in. However, after so much talking the recruit will begin to get tiresome and eventually will hang up on you. A smiley face located in the northeast corner of the screen will give you an idea of how much longer you can talk. The best way to turn the recruit’s frown upside down is to talk about the subjects they are most interested in, especially if your school can offer the best in that area.

Overall, the game has some new features that are revolutionary to sports gaming. However, a lot of excellent

features from the past were deleted to make space for the new ones. For next year’s version, EA Sports would be wise to bring back a majority of the features from “NCAA Football ’06,” along with some of the better ones from this year and whatever

new developments they come up with. Also, ditching Lee Corso for some fresh talent wouldn’t hurt.