NCAA Football 2002
Review of NCAA Football 2002
The first thing you notice when you start playing this game is the overall graphics quality. The players are no longer these same-height midget monsters that we’ve seen in the past (Madden anyone…). They are all different shapes and sizes and mimic their real life counterparts much more accurately. Another nice improvement is that the players now ‘fit’ onto the field. This is the result of nice camera angles that show play on the full 100-yard length of the field. No more short field shots. The other immediately noticeable feature is that the movement of the players is fluid and realistic…even more so than Madden 2001 for the PS2…which is saying a lot! Players are nice and smooth and well rounded with no noticeable polygon seaming or rough edges at all. After the play, the player actions are what you’d expect to see on the field. The players even flip the ball to the ref (yes, there are real-time refs patrolling around in this game). The attention to detail is quite simply incredible. You have the ability to change the camera angle on replays and slow down the play to frame by frame. The tuck of the hand as it grabs the ball is incredibly realistic.
They also do a great job of bringing the major stadiums into this game. This unfortunately doesn’t go all the way down to the lesser teams, though. I played as University of Pennsylvania, but that stadium didn’t look too much like Franklin Field. The backgrounds and overall stadium rendering is fabulous though.
About the only thing negative I can really say about the graphics is nit-picky. The players seem to float a bit above the field. Sometimes their feet seem to move in a sort-of slide (but not a true slide) that is only noticeable when a foot touches a line. There also is no grass kick-up or mud.
There is also an improvement on the playability from last year’s PSone game. The learning curve is much lower now. The button icons over the players are now right over them, rather than floating in the general neighborhood. This makes it easier to pickup the open receiver. There is not any change to the button assignments on the controller; so experienced football players will pick this right up. And finally, the game’s AI is extended to the play selection area. Now, on 4th down, the special teams choices show up first—no more scrolling to that section (or forgetting it’s 4th down and running a pass play). On special teams, the kicking meeting is easier to judge and to use and I found myself not hitting 10-yard punts on this game. It also shows up for fake field goals and punts. This also extends to the defensive side. You get the defensive special teams menu first at the right times. Defensively, playability is also improved. You can still be burned by big plays, but it definitely is easier to get tackles on the right players. You can still shift the line and linebackers and move an individual player around. I loved the way players now wrap their arms around other players and takedowns look just as they should…painful!
The game has some standard game setups. Exhibition—essentially a quick start game; any team against any team. This is for one or two players. Season—play your favorite team’s season. Dynasty mode—allows you to try to create a coaching dynasty. Be careful—if you’re no good, you’ll get fired. Practice—This is a nice way to get used to the controllers and get familiar with the playbook. It will keep running the same play over and over until you opt to change it. This is your team against any other team’s defensive unit. Campus Challenge—This shows you how you’ve progressed against the set goals. While playing, if your team or player passes a threshold (e.g. three or more tackles by one defender) then points are awarded. These points then are redeemable for campus cards that can be used during games from the pause menu to give a boost to your team in clutch situations.
The sound effects are, as usual, excellent and realistic. The play-by-play announcers are done really well. I even heard Lee Corso say “Whoa Nelly!” Hey--isn’t that copyrighted? If you shift the defensive line a few times, the announcers will speak up about how the d-line is moving all over the place.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'NCAA Football 2002' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Downey © Absolute PlayStation
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