NCAA Gamebreaker 2003
Review of NCAA Gamebreaker 2003
This has the exact same game engine as NFL GameDay 2003. The play calling screens, displays and various AI items are all just about the same. The differences are in the actual plays that can be called, and, of course in the players. The plays you can choose differ from the pros pretty dramatically. Since many college teams employ the option, there are a whole bunch of option formations. As with NFL GameDay, the GameBreaker game is not positioned to compete directly with the big boys, it is at a lower price point, so there are some features that are not as nice as you find on EA or others, but for about 1/3 less in price, you still get a really good game.
The playability of this game is both easy and maddening at the same time. For some reason, 989 Sports set certain controls different than the standard football games that are available for the PS2. The controls don’t seem to be as intuitive as the standard football games do. When you get past that, it becomes easy enough to master and play. You can customize the buttons, but then you need to remember the assignments. The play selection screen is very busy and highlights a play in the middle and the other two are smaller on either side. I find this to be annoying and lacking any kind of AI to move things along. One thing is it doesn’t bring up special teams as one of the three major options to choose on 4th down. You still have to scroll through the formats until finding special teams. Also, if you use certain formations, then they should come up as the primary ones on the screen. Since they don’t, it just takes a little more getting used to.
Once the play is chosen, then execution is relatively easy. Take some time to learn the various buttons and what they do so it keeps you on the ball. For the most part it was pretty simple, but on offense, the option plays took some getting practice, and I never could seem to master the handoff and ended up running the QB up the middle more often than not. The controls say to press R1 or R2 to pitch the ball, but I could never seem to get that working consistently either. Passing works the same with the button icons showing above their heads, so it’s all a learning process.
The options are quite standard for sports games. There’s Scrimmage for a quick game; Bowl Season for a regular college season; Tournament Season, which is the regular season plus a post-season game if you qualify. Coaching Career allows you to manipulate rosters, recruit players and play over several seasons. Each format has a skill level choice, whether you want simulation or arcade mode, and game clock to set the number of minutes per quarter. That’s in addition to customizing the controller and other additional choices under gameplay options.
989 Sports does a nice job of recreating the various college stadiums and, while not identifying the name, getting the size and abilities of the starters including whether they are right-handed or left handed. They didn’t attempt to even try to match what the head coach really looks like. In fact, they all seem to look like the Steve Mariucchi model from the NFL game. The on-field graphics are nice, and the referees don’t disappear during gameplay. There seems to be a ref knocked down every other kickoff, which was pretty funny. The field is full-length and the players all fit proportionally to the field. The players are rendered pretty well, there is not too much in the way of polygon tears showing up, and the movement is pretty fluid and realistic. While not fantastic, the graphics are quite functional.
Keith Jackson returns as the play-by-play announcer, the lone superstar in this game. He now has a partner, Tom Brant, who does the color announcing. That has enough variety to keep it from being too redundant, but you do hear some of the same phrases as you play often enough. The other sounds are realistic and believable. There are even the bands playing in the background. The crowd noises are appropriate for the situations and the game sounds are very realistic.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'NCAA Gamebreaker 2003' 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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