NCAA Football 08 First Look

Who cares if it's April? College football is in the air in our first look at EA's upcoming collegiate pigskin game.

When most folks think of April, images of warmer weather, sunny skies, and the start of the Major League Baseball season come to mind. When the development team at EA Tiburon thinks of April, it has got to have college football on the brain. That's because it's traditionally this time of year when EA Sports spills the first beans on its upcoming college football game NCAA Football 08. We got a chance to see the game during EA's recent Tiburon press event.

Last year was the debut for the NCAA series on the Xbox 360 (there were entries on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PlayStation Portable too). This year NCAA 08 will be dropping for the PlayStation 3 as well. The series looks to be continuing some of the long-running features that have made it a success, though not without some crucial tweaks that look to set it apart not just from previous games in the season but from its big brother at Tiburon, Madden NFL 08.

For example, consider the impact player feature. The NCAA series has been putting an emphasis on star players on both sides of the ball now for a couple of iterations. The feature isn't changing with NCAA 08; teams will still include impact players on offense and defense. Thanks to a new motivation system, however, practically any player in the game will be able to rise up to the level of an impact player, depending on the skill of the player with his or her thumbs on the game controller.

As featured in the game demonstration, the motivation system will reward individual players with boosts to their motivation level when they perform well on the field. The better and more consistently a player performs, the more motivation he will earn as he goes. As the old saying goes, success begets success, and as motivation builds up, that player will eventually get into the zone (something previously reserved only for the aforementioned impact players). If you've got a player in the zone and he pulls off a huge play, such as a big touchdown run or a game-changing interception, he can inspire the entire team with a huge performance boost. It's known as "leading by example" in the game, and these kinds of huge-motivation moments can change the direction of a game.

In an example shown during the demonstration, a quarterback ran a number of option plays; for each successful toss of the ball to the running back, the player gradually earned more motivation, and his icon began to glow. At the peak of his motivation, the player icon was pulsing orange and red. And when he finally crossed into the end zone on a sharp end run, the motivation blasted out to engulf the field in that same orange and red glow; a visual effect we're hoping the developers will consider toning down before the game is released. Still, cheesy effects or not, you can't argue with the results. On the very next play, which saw the team going for two points after the touchdown, the unusually motivated team provided the extra push to get the two-point conversion.

The new motivation system has a few interesting connotations. First, it means that you won't necessarily have to depend on your impact players to make things happen on the field. After all, it's all too easy to key in on your opponent's impact players and attempt to shut them down, taking away the biggest weapons in their arsenal. If any player on the team has the ability to rise to the occasion and make a play, it opens up the game nicely. The other aspect of the system is that it rewards the person playing the game for actually making plays. Earning motivation points will seem natural by doing things like making spectacular catches, huge runs filled with jukes and spins, and the like; you'll also be equally rewarded for coming up huge on defense. Instead of relying on the artificial intelligence to make that big interception or huge hit, the system will reward the player for taking control of that middle linebacker or safety and coming down with the ball themselves. Of course, blowing big plays will result in a hit to your motivation total as well, so you'll want to make sure you pick your spots.

After playing a few games racking up motivation, gaining glory on the gridiron with your impact players, and generally trouncing all teams that step in your path, it follows that you'll want to save and share your on-field conquests with your friends. NCAA Football 07 started that trend by allowing you to keep photos from your big games in a photo album. With NCAA 08, you'll be able to save and share more of these types of highlights thanks to an improved replay system and a new feature known simply as the "shrine."

An improved replay system will let you go back and revisit practically any play in a game (though producers were quick to point out that you could only do so in games with shorter quarter lengths). Once you've found a highlight you're particularly fond of, you can then choose to create a highlight of that play. This lets you choose from multiple camera angles to take a snapshot or segment of game-generated video. From there, you can either save these photos or videos on your hard drive or upload them to share with friends. Do you know an annoying Alabama fan who has conveniently developed amnesia since your Auburn Tigers wiped the floor with them two weeks prior? Send him the video to remind him of his failures. Producers said the online repository of videos and photos will include a searchable database you can file through, in case you're only looking for clips of certain types of plays or from certain schools. Plays will also be graded with a "greatness score," and we expect it won't be long before people are comparing the scores of their favorite plays like tailgaters compare BBQ grill sizes.

When saving your favorite videos locally on your console, you'll have a chance to show them off in your personal "shrine" which, as it sounds, is a memorial to your personal accomplishments in the game. A huge jumbotron screen can be loaded with your favorite highlight videos, while accompanying screens on the side can show off photos from your various victories. There's also a ton of room for trophies in your shrine--a perfect place to show off your conference and national championship gold, as well as rivalry-specific awards such as Paul Bunyan's Axe (from the Wisconsin/Minnesota series) or the Little Brown Jug from the long-running (and one-sided) Michigan/Minnesota rivalry series. ESPN's Chris Fowler will join his College GameDay co-hosts Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit (as well as play-by-play man Brad Nessler), with Fowler providing audio descriptions of the various rivalry-specific trophies. The game will also feature extensive stat tracking--recording everything from the number of jukes and spins you use in a game, to how often you've motivated your team using the game's "lead by example" feature. You'll then be able to compare your stats with other players to see how you measure up.

So you've worked out the motivation system, you've led by example on the field, and you've got a shrine that's always growing in tribute to your collegiate greatness. Where do you go from there? How about the game's new-look campus legend mode for starters. The campus legend feature has been a part of previous NCAA games, and allows you to step in the shoes of an up-and-coming football star at your favorite college. This time around, though, the series has a few new twists in store for you. First of all, when starting up, you'll be able to either create a new player from scratch, or take control of a currently existing player on a school roster. Of course, should you decide to take control of a senior quarterback, you'll only be able to play him for a single year before he graduates.

Another thing that's changed is how your player will make the transition into the collegiate game. With NCAA 08's Campus Legend mode, you'll start out by playing in a high school football tournament. Your first few games as a player will be played in small high school stadiums. Once your team makes it to the championship, with you leading the way, naturally, you'll get your first taste of college atmosphere when you play in a college stadium for the first time. Play your high school tournament in Tennessee, for example, and your championship game will take place at Neyland Stadium (home of the Volunteers). After each game in the tournament, you'll get a feel for your performance, as well as an idea of the various scouts that were in attendance to check you out. The higher you're rated as a performer, the more options you'll have once it comes time to commit to a Division 1-A team.

But hold on there, Mr. Superstar. Just because you actually made it onto a team doesn't mean you'll automatically have the starting job. Indeed, should you sign for a big time football school like Florida or USC, you'll likely find yourself way down the depth order at your specific position. In order to raise your profile, and fight for that starting job, you'll need to take part in the daily practice sessions during the season. You'll have ten reps to perform various plays and, based on your success, you'll earn points until you overtake the guy ahead of you on the depth chart. The good news is, you can't lose a position once you've gained it, so make sure you work hard in the early going. And of course, you'll need to balance you're personal and academic life in NCAA 08's campus legend mode. You'll need to juggle your academic work with putting time in with your nose buried in the team's playbook, as well as fitting in time with your buddies. The system will work slightly differently this year--one producer used a pick-up basketball game as an example. Should you choose to go out with your buddies and play hoops, you might play a big game and earn a small boost to your jumping ability for your next game; conversely you might also twist an ankle on the hardtop and miss your next start.

As with superstar mode in last year's Madden NFL game, campus legend mode in NCAA 08 will find you playing the position you chose, and only that position. If you're a quarterback, you'll be making plays, if you're a middle linebacker, you'll be responsible for bringing down ball carriers, snatching balls out of the sky, and bringing down the odd scampering quarterback or two. As with superstar mode, the camera will shift to focus on your player depending on his position and, unless you're a QB who can call audibles, you'll depend on your AI coach to get you the ball. One cool feature in NCAA 08 is the super sim, which will let you skip to your next possession in the game, or simulate a game entirely should you start beating up your local community college at homecoming. At any point in a sim, you can jump back into the game in order to ice off an opponent or simply add another touchdown against your most hated rival. The super sim feature should make all modes in the game--including the still unrevealed dynasty mode--move at a much-needed quicker pace.

NCAA 08 will be sharing the core football engine technology that will be at the heart of Madden 08, tweaked to better represent the college game and we're looking forward to seeing more of how the improved engine actually plays. Beyond gameplay, the biggest questions for NCAA 08 revolve around the online feature set and dynasty mode. Details are few and far between though we're intrigued to report that one producer referred to it as a "revolutionary" dynasty mode. Sounds good to us.

One last stat to whet your appetite: NCAA 08 will include 115 modeled college football stadiums, up from around 40 in the previous year's game. In addition, several stadiums have been tweaked in accordance with their real-life upgrades from the previous year (Crimson Tide fans, we're looking at you). With more questions to answer--mainly about the game's dynasty mode--we look forward to bringing you more on NCAA 08 as we lead up to its release later this summer.

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Discussion

79 comments
tha904mack
tha904mack

I've been waiting for them to make it where you start in high school since the 1st campus legend. Counting down the time

clarkwgriswold5
clarkwgriswold5

That's the thing about the NCAA series...there is always something that is broken. One year it's running, the next year it's passing, then play-action passes, zone blitzing, etc. EA should concentrate on getting that stuff right before adding gimmicks.

bamarolltide16
bamarolltide16

Awesome that yall are adding the stadium upgrades to the ALABAMA stadium cant wait to see that! ROLL TIDE!!!!!!

drdvl
drdvl

very cool very cool but can u creat players? pick their gear? or most importantly..make a team?

RollCrimsonTide
RollCrimsonTide

Wow, better graphics, updated stadiums, and a 'revolutionary' Dynasty mode. Looks like EA came just in time for you all to be dominated by an AI-controlled Nick Saban. ROLL TIDE!!!!!

josh_bray
josh_bray

These NCAA games never come out in Australia and it sucks. Sony Australia if YOUR LISTENING BRING SOME OUT DOWN UNDER!

numba13700
numba13700

Anybody looking for a challenge in NCAA07 i'm always up for one OMEGA3700

QB71
QB71

I am looking forward to playing the new for the 360 Campus Legend mode

haesuse
haesuse

1st thing, babyshay thats a great idea, if it can be done. 2nd, more NCAA football, hell yeah! i play 3 sports games religiously and this is one, i can't friggin wait...and they better not screw something major up :P

Droopizzle
Droopizzle

the only thing missing on the NCAA 07 for the 360 last year was celebrations,like winning the national title and conference,I hope they add that this year.

datniccah187
datniccah187

Should be pretty straight. I'm not really into college sports games though. My boys always buy em so i always get sucked into playing em. So hopefully it'll be a quality game, for my sakes lol.

Babyshay
Babyshay

You know what would really be cool if EA took advantage of the Eyetoy when you create your character all you do is take a pic of yourself and automatically creates your player. that would be a awsome feature

jag215
jag215

Wow, I'm incredibly excited about this game, the new campus legend stuff makes me consider playing it, which is much more than this mode has done in NCAA or Madden thus far. I really hope they open up on the dynasty mode soon, but right now I'm drooling.

bagoodlewarrior
bagoodlewarrior

If you don't like SuperStar mode then don't play it. Simple as that. There will be other options, people. After all, EA should step it up a bit now that they have competition again.

odin_66
odin_66

Being able to make a highlight of an ingame play is pretty sweet. I don't know how many times I watched a replay and wanted to make a ridiculous video with different angles. They had better tone down the whole momentum feature. How lame would it be if the entire field flashed orange or whatever?

boaballer
boaballer

Hey counter-reality, I can answer your question. The game has zoomed in camera-angle in the first place b/c it is a marketing gimmick. When they tested the new punt return camera-angle, they know that it is horrible and that you can't see jack with it. They still gotta have it in and advertise it as a new feature (along with other new features) so that you don't feel cheated for paying the full price for a similar game from the previous year. EA's first priority is to make money, not to put a smile on gamers' faces. They intentionally leave out game modes and features in the next generation games b/c they know you will come crawling back to buy the same old trash the next year. That's when they decide they can put the old features and game modes back in again, when you have already regretfully spent money on the previous versions. This scheme works favorably for EA when they have exclusive rights to the ncaa football license and the nfl license; there are no other football games to choose from. Every summer time, you're probably thinking it's only $60 and I had to wait a whole year for this new game, so I gotta buy it right away when it first comes out and play it when I get home. How do you retaliate against their tactics and your own impulse? By being patient and read trustworthy reviews first, before maybe regretfully buying their product. That's what I normally do. Or you can try renting first too so you can form your own opinion. It may only be $60 for you to buy, but when million others do the same thing, the ramification is EA continuing their marketing practices to their advantage, as well as to your disadvantage. Checkmate.

crimsonapollyon
crimsonapollyon

I agree with counter_reality. Only being able to control one person is not very fun. I loved all the madden games up until Madden 07 for the 360. I started to play the game until I discovered you could only control one player in Superstar mode. If that wasn't terrible enough the camera angle they decided to use when controlling your player was poor. Hopefully EA will think twice before put thise game out.

counter_reality
counter_reality

Gak. Cheesey effects and a port of Madden's Superstar mode. What did we do to you EA? I HATED only controlling one guy. I sincerely hope that they make it optional. I also hope they put the kick recieving camera back where it is supposed to be and not so zoomed in. I dont like having tunnel vision. And while I realise that you can pause the game and it is zoomed out why have it zoomed in in the first place?

prate20
prate20

It'll be nice if this game is actually worth $60 this year because it sure as hell wasn't last year. It wasn't even the complete experience, too many little things missing like pregame shows, the espn magazine, oh and how about having ALL THE STADIUMS CORRECT. Last year you were much better off buying the old gen games, by that I mean ps2, xbox. They had all the little stuff and extras like bringing up div 2 teams, created teams, they had all the stadiums. Lets hope this year isn't full of holes also, focus on the gameplay for the life of the ncaa series EA, don't add anything new until you atleast have all the old stuff in the game. I hated 2k football games but maybe EA needs a kick in the butt and some competition to get the working on these hard again. A decent game with great gameplay can be great, but a great game with decent gameplay is just decent. The line isn't very thin either, so lets go ea, the new stuff looks promising but lets complete the game before we start adding. And I'm referring to the 360 version, poor ps3 owners going to be very upset I have a feeling once they pick this up, theres a large curve from going from ps2 to next gen, and ps3 will only be even further behind than the 360.

speedboy002
speedboy002

i agree i mean 2K had sportscenter when they had ESPN rights

ROLLTIDE06
ROLLTIDE06

Hm ... it seems like this player motivation feature will only be taken advantage of. In this article, it uses an example of a QB running the option and eventually scoring, all the while increasing his motivation ... That's cool - no problem there - although, the visual effect was (as the article states) a bit cheesy. The thing that caught my attention was the fact that the "unusually motivated team" lined up to go for 2. Excuse me? There aren't many facts given here, but I'm guessing when they scored (being a demo) - it was the first TD of the game. If this is the case ... why on earth would you go for two? That sounds disturbing to me, because it is wildly unrealistic. I'm not impressed by the new feature at all - it will probably be glitchy - most like the rest of the game. I play this game because it's the only college football game available and it really isn't a bad game. It's playable enough to be enjoyable. Although, the series seems to be taking an arcadey turn and I am not a fan of that. It's never been much of a true simulation, but the whole visual effects of your player reaching his momentum peak is a little over the top. I want to see the little things that make college football what it is. The fans are a big part of college athletics, and so is the band -- yet they are continually overlooked. I thought the crowd noise feature was excellent -- yet they replaced it with a crappy momentum meter. Why can't you have both? It's annoying to see underdeveloped games put on the market -- how do you just leave things out??! It almost feels intentional. They could add some more crowd specific chants -- or some of the gestures that fans make (such as gator bait or hook'em horns) . Supposedly, the fans of Florida were supposed to do the gator bait gesture on last years game. I never saw this ... These things could be worked on if development time were not devoted to adding a "NEW" game enhancing feature. Why not make the college atmosphere the feature? I'm pleased to see that more stadiums have been added, although I still don't understand why all of the stadiums are not available... I will congratulate them on getting the new Bama upgrades in the game so quickly. The SuperSim sounds great and should quicken dynasty mode for some, although I like to play my games out -- the SuperSim could change my mind. Finally, I sincerely hope the games glitches are worked on. Some of the animation glitches are not that big of a deal to me, but I would like to see them fixed. One of the biggest glitches that I can remember (haven't played it in a while) was the fact that the wind played no factor. Trust me, I've played a ton of games -- and the wind can be blowing 20 mph towards the sidelines and you will be able to kick it down the middle of the field without adjustment. Another example is being able to boot the ball as you normally would with a 20 mph wind in your face. Looking forward to more updates.

bus11888
bus11888

ok cz62289 like dat thing they got on college hoops 2k7 with the postgame show and all that...that would be hot...i say that if u got full rights to espn than put it to full use!...i dont see whats wrong with adding college gameday

cz62289
cz62289

IT wouldd be cool if they had a sportscenter show after your game and it will show stats scores Heisman news top plays all the usual SC stuff same for madden if ESPN wants in have them put something into the game that is how i feel

mars07
mars07

Hopefully they will reconsider making Campus Legend like Superstar mode in Madden. I didn't like only being able to control one guy.

josephmadde2005
josephmadde2005

Hey I happen to be an annoying bama fan who has developed five years of amnesia in regards to the Auburn game, and I want this Ekberg guy Imus-ed immediately....oh crap the index fingers of the second hand AAAHHHHHHH...RUN AWAY...RUN AWAY.... Oh well Roll Tide Anyway

bus11888
bus11888

the pictures look like names on the jerseys (lineman from tenn)...y not add it?...and since its by espn they should show fans tailgaiting, entering the stadium...college gameday, and with an exterior view of the stadium in the backdrop...that would be hot!!!

rrric
rrric

FINALLY we can sim blow outs

Splincir
Splincir

Sounds tons better than 07, but I'm keeping a watchful eye on All-Pro Football 2K8. I'll probably only buy one football title, and I want the best one. Madden probably won't make the cut (it's been the same game for about 5 years), so I think it's down to this or 2K8.

NYJets12
NYJets12

They should at least let the band run into the endzone and let the fans knock down the goal posts.

bus11888
bus11888

they should pack the sidelines a bit more...(they do look a bit empty) and let fans rush the field that would be da $#!T

jdm5680
jdm5680

Sounds like it should be a good game.... I hope they let us change camera view in Superstar/Legend mode..... I hated playing that mode last year in Madden since you could not see the field except directly in fornt of you.... I hated seeing daylight in front of me and getting tackled from behind when I normally could've juked or stiff armed and broken the tackle.

lil_g3n3ral
lil_g3n3ral

Man i dunno what donscrillinger problem is....I mean i really dont like ea anyways but i mean come on....hes got to much hate for a video game. If you have to much hate for a video game its either cuz one, you suck at the game and you cant play for $##@. Two, He must really suck for get 2 to 5 interceptions and fumbles a game. Someones got to go back to the basics and protect the ball with the trigger button instead of trying juke everybody and spin. Anyways dude calm down its just a game and its not a real simulator. Give me a break. Games will never be an exact replica of something in real life. Let me guess i guess you dont like Gears cuz in real life they dont have chainsaw guns. dude get out of here with that.

badman11226
badman11226

Man I love NCAA too bad its sucks when it hit the next-gen hope it redeem itself this year because i know madden wont. But its just crazy how ncaa football 07 was so freaking better on the current gen,player models looks good but on the next gen the damn kickers look like linebackers. I hope the fix player modedls make a kicker look like kicker and so forth. Hope the gameplay gets better and i like this motivation thing. Dear god dont let EA kill the only football I like so far they nearly stabbed it to death last year. Amen

Urlacher54
Urlacher54

I've been a big fan of these NCAA games for years, but I have to say, if this game delivers what this preview promises . . . well, it just might make it the best game EVER.

donscrillinger
donscrillinger

all you, its fun azz ,it'll be the best one yet .man get the !@$% out of here .this game will be the same with new gimmicks .new and old glitchies ,cartoony muscle bound,anime, graphics,madden and this ncaa .i find it amazing that all you cats clam you love the sport of football and i do to .on that note ,both of these games look and play nothing like what i watch nor go to the game and see .1st off where are the refs ,you know those guys that look like zebraz .in real life its three on the field at all times.2nd where are the ball markers ,you know the refs on the side lines letting the coach know how far you need to go for the 1st down .also where is the the line of scrimm you know the line letting def and offs know how close the Qb is to running or how about the qb, so if your runnig around you wont go pass it and make the pass.field goal nets etc. things that should be there but arent .what about the ball physics when you throw the ball .now come on,! how the hell does the ball go as high as the cheap seats .way pass the sky camITS JUST NOT REAL.also when the hell does 2-5 fumbles and ints happened in one game .you cats are lame yo .thats why E.A. keeps feedin us recycled trash with untested games .i cant count any more how many times wackken has froze on me .its just confirms my thoughts about most cats that love E.A.s brand of sports games .YOU CATS ARE ARCADEY ,fasho!cuz neither one of these football games play like an sim .they should call both games madden arcade 08 nfl and ncaa arcade 08. i call it like i see it .

crippla87
crippla87

Wow, not a thing interested me this year. Sounds like another lame superstar-ish mode in NCAA that did not work out with Madden. Why do they think we care about off the field crap like academics like what I have to put up with in REAL LIFE. I don't want to do that crap during my study breaks! How about fixing all the bugs and glitches of last year. The new motivation sounds awfully familiar to the momentum gimmick of last year that did hardly anything.

crippla87
crippla87

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

XHuskersX26
XHuskersX26

Wow you can save replays now. Couldnt we do that on the old xbox. Please dont mess up the only college football game out there EA please dont.

Magnet8
Magnet8

This sounds cool. I hope they get the UTEP stadium right. I also hope that they fix the crowd. Man, those were some low-res dudes!

key584
key584

just from reading the preveiw it sounds like it will be the best ncaa football so far, i am interested to see how the start from highschool thing is going to work out

seeps06
seeps06

It would be nice to see more team specific chants occur during games, currently they have none for Nebraska. And hopefully the Nebraska attendence will be corrected as it can hold some 85,000 unlike the 74,000 or so they put on last years game. Nice to see a more realistic campus legend mode by having to work your way up the depth chart instead of being an instant starter.

GameFreak34
GameFreak34

The thing I want most is a redo of the crowd in the stadium, it would be sweet to hear multiple version of chants and certain songs... being a huge Notre Dame fan, I want to see things like the irish jig or students doing pushups after a touchdown. I'm sick of just seeing 3 people holding up a sign. I believe graphics are gunna be amazing with the power of the next gen systems, I hope for a more realistic college football game in the future...

tH3_cH3a7_027
tH3_cH3a7_027

unless EA puts a huge defensive feature without an offensive feature to render it useless in its games, the final score of an average game of Madden will continue to be 84-78. The Falcons might as well have made Jesus thier starting QB in '07 since Michael Vick was so rediculously unstoppable.

BulletsnOctane
BulletsnOctane

I've wanted this all along..The HS games sound awesome instead of just drills. I just hope we can set the camera angles to the ones in 06. This will for sure make me play Madden more seriously given the fact I actually do control my player again. Lets also hope our equipment selection is in. Sorry I don't get on EA's forums as often as I would like. That said. Sounds very pleasing.

gregorthegreatt
gregorthegreatt

Please make them like real college kids and not pro players in college uniforms. That was one of my biggest problems with NCAA 07.

adamlynch
adamlynch

They need a wii version it would be the best one