NCAA Football 08 Hands-On

We go first and 10 in the Big Apple with EA's upcoming college football game.

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NEW YORK CITY--With just two days to go before the NFL makes a whole new crop of former NCAA football stars into pro football stars in the 2007 NFL Draft, EA Sports kicked off NCAA Football 08 with an unveiling at a posh New York City restaurant, full of media, game producers, and potential draftees. Athletes and hangers-on abounded, but our first priority of the evening was getting our grubby paws on a playable build of NCAA 08. We first saw the game a few weeks ago at EA's annual press event in Orlando--home of EA Tiburon, the development studio behind both NCAA and Madden--and were excited to finally try the game out for ourselves.

Our first stop along the way in our 10-minute session with the game was to fire up a match between the Auburn Tigers and the Washington Huskies to see how the much-vaunted new animation system is affecting gameplay. And though the version of the game we played was still early in the development process, the new animations were on fine display in the game. There were the small but noticeable touches such as new catching animations for receivers--for instance, hauling in the ball while falling to the ground--as well as new celebration moves.

The bigger change could be felt in the responsiveness of the players in the game. Players felt more nimble and quick to respond to the slightest change in direction when using the analog stick. Producers are chalking this up to some sophisticated new branching animation technology, which is being built into the core football engine that powers both NCAA 08 and Madden NFL 08. Instead of players being "stuck" to the longer animations of their on-field players, branching animation will let you break out of an animation and into an entirely new set of moves. As one producer explained, "Why should you have to wait for an animation to finish?"

Some of the other cool news for the game revolved around the improved artificial intelligence we noted in our last preview, especially with regard to the wide receivers. While the preview build of the game was suffering from a noticeable "dropsies" bug (which will surely be ironed out by release), there was no denying that the receivers were playing position better than we'd seen in a while. Wideouts routinely squared their shoulders to the defender covering them, getting in front of the ball, and then spinning up field to gain extra yards. AI-controlled running backs were quicker to spin or juke away from trouble.

Late in the first quarter, we drove the ball into the end zone against the Huskies on a gorgeous crossing pass from Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox to the outstretched hands of receiver Rod Smith, a perfect play to experiment with using NCAA 08's new highlight replay feature. After pausing the game, we were taken to a menu that let us choose from any previous play in the game. We chose the touchdown pass by pressing the X button on the Xbox 360 controller and were then allowed to choose from one of four camera angles to view the replay from (broadcast, wire, press box, and sideline, as well as an additional "random" option).

Once you've chosen your camera angle, you'll have the option to save the play to your NCAA 08 "shrine." Your shrine will save up to five video highlights you've recorded, as well as a number of "photos" of your recent games, which are taken automatically during the game. If you have an especially cool replay, you can even save it as a video file and upload it to the Internet to share with your friends.

Another cool feature is a new take on the defensive hit stick, one that is designed to even the score between different-sized players. By pressing down on the right analog stick when tackling a ball carrier, you can cause your defenseman to go low and attempt to take out a bigger opponent's legs--a crucial weapon to have if you're looking to bring down a fullback with a small defensive back, for example. The hurdle button has also returned, allowing you to leap over players with a touch of the Y button. As a counter, your opponent will have be able to use the other new ability with the revamped hit stick--the ability to hit high by pushing up on the right analog stick.

A slightly tweaked interface and menu system presents NCAA 08's playbooks in a slightly different manner, which took some getting used to. One of the other big new features in the game, the motivation levels, was also present in the game, but it wasn't really that evident in our brief time with the game. To check your team's individual motivation levels, you zoom out on the field by pressing the trigger button and then push down with the right analog stick. A small circle surrounds each of your players on the field, color-coded to match his intensity level. We didn't have enough time to send any of our players into the zone, but when asked about the system, producers confirmed to us that while "in the zone" players will give a boost to all players on their team, the individual attribute boosts won't immediately turn the team into the second coming of the 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers. Instead, the boosts will be modest, but noticeable, improvements to whatever your players' base attributes are.

We would have loved to have spent the entire night huddled in the corner, checking out all the nooks and crannies of NCAA Football 08, but it wasn't long before former NCAA stars like JaMarcus Russell and Adrian Peterson came along, looking to try the game out for themselves. And who's going to argue with a guy the size of Russell? Rest assured that we'll be bringing you much more on NCAA 08 in the coming months, including some detailed looks at the game's revamped Campus Legend and dynasty modes.

Discussion

50 comments
CaRD0N
CaRD0N

Something we haven't seen before... Something they haven't seen before.... Something they had seen before... Same they had seen before... Same year had seen before.... SAME AS THE YEAR BEFORE!!!! Funny how gradual changes can convince people something is new.

footballfan36
footballfan36

will you be able to create a player and put what you want on him and will their be celebrations if u like win a game or a bowl,national champinship game?

ronnieb718
ronnieb718

couple things i hope they add to 360. 1...create a school. why was this not on there? the best way to play dynasty mode is create a school and take them from nothing to national champs. missed that in 07. 2nd...and this bugged me in madden too. whether you're 12-0 or 0-12 your stadium for home games is always full. in the xbox madden (and ncaa) if your team sucked no one was in the stadium.

FlipCyde78
FlipCyde78

hope you can create a player and eventually import him to Madden 08...def. needs that on the next gen consoles.

hangyourcross
hangyourcross

Psst. Even with Saban, Alabama is still going to suck.

cool55dude
cool55dude

Hope campus mode will be good on the 360. I have to agree Lostboy 1224 ncaa 06 was the best one in the series.

bamarolltide16
bamarolltide16

yall are killing me with that image of the gay guy (auburn player) tackling a alabama player like that could actually happen. thats false advertising. ROLL TIDE ROLL !!!!!!!!

jackson84
jackson84

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

Thor560
Thor560

have to say it does look pretty sweet

wattclock
wattclock

Welcome back !! My urge for NCAA08 is up. Let's play. Where do I go to try it out.

ctifer1
ctifer1

It's sounding really good. I like the idea of replays, improved hit-stick functionality and more. Can't wait to see it in action.

BxBombr91
BxBombr91

bus11888, I agree, what was up with the visors??? And can we get a better create a player???? Last years was absolutely horrible. What happened to the create-a-player on the current gen syste,s??? That was great.

ArrggghANYNAME
ArrggghANYNAME

Where's the phuking PC version already? **** holes.

Lostboy1224
Lostboy1224

Haven't the attributes already done clear back in 2004-2005? Back then it was the whole stadium noise makes or breaks the game for you. The last time I really enjoyed this game was 06 when it was a race for the heisman trophy. That made the game fun for me anyway. For $60 it better be something more then a roster update and some new animations, which it always seems to be.

call1
call1

GIG'EM for 08!!! Oh and EA fix all of the bugs, and I mean ALL of them like the ref getting in the way reciever. Oh and for the record A&M does not have cheer leaders we have yell leaders so take the cheer leaders out and add the yell leaders.

joeyfine
joeyfine

i love this game. bout time some news happpens!

JamesSharp
JamesSharp

"the preview build of the game was suffering from a noticeable "dropsies" bug (which will surely be ironed out by release), " yeah.... sure, it will.

crippla87
crippla87

its how fast a game can play. You wont get slowdown with 60fps.

bus11888
bus11888

hopefully visors will have a lil transparency this year...lol...but im a lil illiterate on gaming terminology but what does 60 frames per second actually mean?...dont laugh

BigBoi_24
BigBoi_24

nice awesum graphics. im gonna show off to my 2 frends who got the wii to make em feel bad about the graphics :). wii is good though. just not my thing. ssx blur owned. zelda didnt.rayman sorta did.red steel did. so thers some games. im just in love with my 360 right now.

Liquidsword
Liquidsword

gang tackling huh? Didnt NFL2k4 and 2k5 have that 3-4 years ago? lol

Stevie-Driggs
Stevie-Driggs

I hope EA brings player customization back in both games (existing and created) YOU GOTS TO LOOK AS GOOD AS YA PLAY MAN!

august_king
august_king

I have a feeling that NCAA 08 is going to be better than Madden 08.

mrhuntin
mrhuntin

madden 08 and NCAA 08,this is really great year for ea sport( like all ways!!!!).

crippla87
crippla87

Gang tackling is IN baby!!!! IGN just had an article and yes, Madden will to. There are also going to mid-air collisions as well. Its about time EA, that warrants a purchase in my book.

s3lFc0nTr0l
s3lFc0nTr0l

might be a purchase (considering the gators are champs baby!)

springdaddy
springdaddy

I love NCAA Football, but I'm sure this will disappoint. Don't get me wrong, I love football and NCAA, but these stupid previews always pump the game up more than what they end up really being. I just wish that EA would put the time into making a solid game instead of updating sh!t year after year.

lockjaw333
lockjaw333

Looks like the same old same old.

Chemosh013
Chemosh013

are we finally going to get gang tackles? it's a feature in madden 07 on ps3 so i figure it's easy enough to implement for ncaa. pretty please.

badman11226
badman11226

Wow Im cant believeThis i saw the clips for this game. I really wanna believe but i have to wait its EA but ncaa havent let me down on the ps2 360 yes but not ps2. God its me please let this game be freaking awesome i need football. Man i Seriously wanna believe this but i have wait but man im really excited about this game

mars07
mars07

Sounds good but hopefully they are also improving the Dynasty mode. Hoping Campus Legend turns out ok even though I'm disappointed that they decided to model it after Madden's Superstar mode.

Trav3577
Trav3577

I've been awaiting that "shrine" option for many years. I've had so many "great plays" that I never got to show off, but now I will have that chance to showcase my greatest moments. GJ EA!

ocdog45
ocdog45

OMG i can't wait for this game.

icecoldkilla78
icecoldkilla78

cant wait to use the new hit stick. but i really want to see what the dynasty has in store

geaux321
geaux321

Quick question, was Tray Blackmon on the team? Sounds awesome, can't wait to hear more.

donscrillinger
donscrillinger

i just want to know is there any refs on the field when the game is in motion and ball markers ,line of scrimm

Espurs117
Espurs117

Im glad the receivers improved and the new hitstick sounds awesome...but I just wanna know about dynasty.

Strong_Bad101
Strong_Bad101

i just hope that they add 2 player on the same xbox again!! i cant believe they took it out for last years

ElJuego07
ElJuego07

First post! lol Man i cant wait. sounds like EA got their ish together and fix the gameplay bugs. and im excited for the new WR animations and improved Hit stick!

speedboy002
speedboy002

i bet the huskies ended up beatin the tigers lol