NCAA Football 10 Hands-On

We get our hands on EA Sports' upcoming college-football game for the first time.

In our recent reader question and answer session with NCAA Football 10's Ben Haumiller, the producer promised some new camera tricks in EA Sports' upcoming college-football game. Haumiller couldn't be too specific when we posed the question to him directly a few weeks back, but now, after playing the game for ourselves at EA's recent pre-E3 press event in Los Angeles, we got to see the changes firsthand. Frankly, we're impressed.

The biggest and most impressive change is the new player-lock system. At any point in the game, whether playing on offense or defense, you can choose to lock on to the player of your choice by first selecting him and then pressing the L3 button. Once you've locked on to a player, the camera will move to that player's position on the field, and the rest of the play will unfold with you taking control of the locked player.

Although you can lock players on the offensive side of the ball--which is especially fun with wide receivers, given that it lets you run routes and try to beat a cornerback in the process--the best way to experience player lock is on defense, and especially as a defensive back. If you're like us and spend most of your time controlling the defensive lineman because you're worried that you might get burned when playing as a cornerback or safety, player lock might just change your mind.

When you lock on to a defensive player, the camera spins around to give you his vantage point on the field, which makes it much easier than ever before to stay with your receiver while still keeping your eye on the quarterback or running back to see what's happening behind the line. In addition, reacting to changes on the field is even easier. With the camera essentially facing in the direction of the play (as opposed to the play happening on the bottom of the screen while you're concerned with staying with your man at the top), you can break off of coverage and go in for the tackle quicker than ever before. If there's a downside to player lock, it's that sometimes you aren't directly involved in a play (such as when playing safety on a short run). But, in all, we were very impressed with how the feature makes playing defense not just fun but even more effective than before.

No matter whether you choose to lock on to your favorite player on your favorite team, or simply play the game the traditional way, NCAA Football 10 has other features on offer. The strategy of the game is a particular area of focus for the developers at EA Tiburon this year, thanks to such new features as the game plan, as well as the ability to link plays together. Our time with the game gave us better insight into how these features will play out on the field.

You can now send out individual instructions to your players. This probably wasn't what the coach wanted.

The game plan feature lets you customize how you want each position type on the field to play at any given moment. Are you down by a touchdown and need to get the ball back quick? Instruct your defensive backs to go for the ball more frequently in the hopes of grabbing a pick. Are you looking to kill the clock late in the game with a thin lead? Tell your running backs to focus on holding on to the football and not giving up any fumbles. Every position type on the field has three styles of play that you can choose from: aggressive, normal, and conservative. However, you have to be careful, considering that instructing your players to go for an aggressive play might just end up in your team getting burned.

Chaining plays lets you set up plays that are similar. For instance, you might run up the middle to set up a play-action pass using a similar formation (or vice versa). In practice, it takes a while for a play to be fully set up, though the producers did point out that you can actually set up a play after just one or two tries (assuming that both were very successful the first time). When a play is fully set up, the chance of players biting on that play action and giving up a big gain is much greater than normal, so be sure to save your set-up plays for when you really need them.

Although the concept of linked plays is fine, its presentation in NCAA 10 might be a bit subtle for casual fans. This is because you can see only which plays link up to one another in the "formation" play-call menu (though Lee Corso will sometimes suggest linked plays in the "ask the coach" screen). When calling plays using other menus (such as "by play type" or "by player"), you have no idea which plays link to their counterparts. Perhaps in next year's game, we'll see a "linked plays" play-calling menu, which would show you linkable plays in your playbook and their current level of setup.

A much higher camera than this standard view is available during pre-snap formations.

There were other notable elements from our hands-on time with NCAA 10, including a much higher camera when using the left trigger before the snap to check out the player match-ups, and a defensive key feature that lets you try to guess the offensive play before the snap. You've got four choices: run left, run middle, run right, or pass. If you choose pass, you can select the receiver whom you think the ball will go to, which will make your defensive players more aware of that receiver.

One other feature of note, and one that seems to pair well with the defensive-lock feature explained earlier, is the defensive assist button. When pressing the A button (X on the PlayStation 3 controller), you'll temporarily give up control of your defensive player to the CPU. That player will follow his assignment according to the called play and you can take over at any time by simply letting go of the button and moving him yourself. The defensive assist is especially effective when playing cornerback because it's easier to stay with a defender who might be offscreen before the snap.

Couple the defensive assist and the player-lockdown button and it's even easier to play like a star in the backfield. It might not win your player a Jim Thorpe Award, but it just might get you a few more INTs. If anything, it looks like our days of simply "supersimming" the game when the other team has the ball are a thing of the past. Look for more on NCAA 10 up until the game's release in July, including continuing coverage of the game in the GameSpot sports blog and more information from GameSpot's coverage of E3 2009.

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37 comments
fmac420
fmac420

I am a NCAA junkie. I have been stupid enough to buy every one since the very start. I like the lock on feature on defense, but the graphics are not any better, plus the on-line teambuilder is awful! Why don't they have create-a-team like the PS2 version? Have played the demo, it is okay. Not a lot of features available. I will buy the game for several reasons; 1.) love of college football; 2.) I am disabled so it will help pass time; 3.) it is the best game in town. ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!!!!!!

philp37
philp37

I played the demo. Not terribly excited about the graphics, but the game play on defense seems to be an improvement over Madden 09. Are these two games really using the same graphics engine? I have been to the website and am quite excited about create a school, but not quite sure about a few things with it. Can the schools be downloaded, edited and re-uploaded to a new save? And how exactly will my Xbox 360 interact with create a school website?

ArticRecon
ArticRecon

Great call on the lock! Makes the "realism" part of the game a little better.. I look forward to the changes that will be made when Project Nataal comes out.. hopefully it will involve calling out the player position to switch to that player, using your acualy head to swivel the view on screen and being able to adjust position of the player with your actual body position... this will require quite a large room however.. thankfully I have a home theater with plenty of room :) :) and a large 60in screen.. I hope this technology will rock!!! Anyways I digress.. I got way off my intent... I love the idea of locking... I'm wondering how low the aspect view of the player will go. That's been one of my big gripes with the series both Madden and NCAA is the lack of a realistic directly behind the player view where as the QB for instance will not be able to see that reciever down field over the tall DB rushing toward him.. The actualy height statistics will play into this just as in the real world.. A shorter QB will be at a disadvantage whereas now the system is just overhead shoot and go... I mean really... lots of improvements to be made... a running back isn't going to see that tackle coming from his back right side.. he's just going to have to realistically run his route and break/spin when the vibration from the controller and the direction from the surround sound comes from the back right... Come on EA, maybe I should just come be and realism advisor :) :)

razorfett147
razorfett147

I've been out of the football game loop since I bought NCAA 2007 for the PS2. Been waiting for EA to finally bring all of the features from the previous gen series into the new one........and eliminate the blips and flaws while they were at it. Looks like I might go ahead and give 2010 a go. Anyone know if they finally brought back the create-a-team feature yet? Also, I love all the ppl who hate on this franchise (and Madden) just because EA makes it. It's kinda like not buying a really awesome new model car because you don't like the CEO of the company that makes it. I may not care for alot of what EA does these days, but their football offerings have never disappointed. Of course, I'm not dumb enough to go out and buy the new edition EVERY year like some ppl do. I don't know what they're expecting from an annual refresh. I usually buy every 3rd year make..

ransomjr24
ransomjr24

EA controls the football market. Why would they put everything into the game in one year? People complaining and hoping for a 2k comeback are the ones who surrender and buy EA football games each year. It's business, which I totally understand, but can't pay $60 for it. GameFly should benefit from this.

maverick_76
maverick_76

My friend used to make people quit because he would put a CB at QB, run backwards 30 yards and complete screens all day long to his RB or WR, that was unstoppable as well. Anyone that says that is real needs to pull their head out of their butt.

maverick_76
maverick_76

Give me the Navy playbook and I could have all of you whipping your controller crying like a little girl because 09 was cheap. I can routinely beat people playing with OSU, OU, the Gators using teams like TCU and even Iowa. Sad that this game has too many gimmicks and tricks that you can exploit. HAIL 2K5!!!!!

ehenka
ehenka

I used to pick this thing up every year along with Madden. Updating a roster and tossing a $60 pricetag on it isn't cool. You'll all be better off rotating Madden one year and NCAA the next. It'll save you $60 and you won't be pissed when you realize that you paid $60 for a game you've been playing for a year.

SlamminSammy
SlamminSammy

whoop-de-dooo! Virtually no real game enhancements here just typical EA fluff. HOW ABOUT PRESENTATION? HAVE ABOUT PLAYER INTERACTION? HOW ABOUT A REAL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP CELEBRATION instead of a lame ass screen graphic. PATHETIC!!! NCAA has taken a dump this year while Madden look unreal.

JDDrummer
JDDrummer

These screens look far better than in 2009. I love EA sports football games, always have, always will. Every time somebody tries to exploit a flaw, it can always be defended and stopped, you just have to be good enough and smart enough. Will be buying this the first day, repping OSU. Atleast EA sports is making progress with their sports license, I wish I could say the same for 2K sports. MLB 2K sucks so bad, their games are not simulation, more like weak arcade. They are terrible each year, I will never support or give any of my money to 2K sports, even if they make their games 19.99 because they know they cannot compete, and the time and intelligence they put into their product doesnt merit a 60 dollar price tag. HAHAHAHA 2K sports gimme a break, I have more faith in the Obama administration, and thats not saying much at all. GO EA SPORTS. GO BUCKS

jason23456
jason23456

all you people who keep whining just need to shut up who really cares if 2k5 was better? just go play it then and quit crying about it in 5 paragraph long comments until 2k starts making football games again you're stuck with ea, so deal with it good job ea, looks like its gonna be another great game

jason23456
jason23456

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

KilaBlaze
KilaBlaze

look average for now , but its still some time left to correct anything ,btw people please give up the 2k5 football whining , i mean i love both game but something is way more exiting in madden game play more speed, i got to give to nfl 2k for the deepness and everything , the presentation that i really want in madden cause it the only nfl game. But my point is that if 2k would like to get back in the competition all pro football would be a game that everybady would be at least wowed in some kind of way guy just face it 2k5 was good because 2k knew it was there last edition of nfl football , thought id like the people that did 2k5 to work for ea lol

crippla87
crippla87

Won't even bother with this year's version. Not much new and they still don't have my JMU Dukes in there, lame.

Chowdig
Chowdig

Has anyone at EA Sports ever been to a college football game? Those flashes in the stands look rediculous...way overdone.

rando22
rando22

THE PLAYER LOCK ISN'T NEW!!

GrazuldaFeesh
GrazuldaFeesh

I was worried this was going to be horrible and it almost was but with create a team finaly back this game seems it is going to be good

TrickyDOTcom
TrickyDOTcom

Damn you EA yet you suck again, please someone petition to the NFL to bring 2KSports back! Geez i cant take another water down game. Hell 2K5 still beats this! Give it up EA with all your FRAUD!

GrndHard14
GrndHard14

To give the best analogy to what's going on here: It's like all these movie directors and producers "re-creating" movies from our past (i.e. Halloween, etc.), and instilling in them less substance than their respective predecessor. I cannot grasp my mind around the thought of paying more for a game that doesn't incorporate the same presentation and gameplay quality as once exhibited, and in all honesty, should surpass due to the fact that this a next-gen system with superior processing speeds and graphic capabilities. NOT BUYING.

Sparty_On
Sparty_On

I'm getting excited for NCAA Football 10 every year it gets better and better. And it's always worth buying the first day it comes out.

deepen03
deepen03

wow, the screens so far look the same as ncaa 09. i don't plan on buying this and have never bought an ncaa game, but why are there no refs or chain crews in NCAA 10? EA had the time to put them into Madden 10, so why not in NCAA 10? that boggles my mind.

costlywar
costlywar

This is ridiculous! Some of these features were in last year's game, just in a different format. I'm sorry, I do not see much improvements being made for 2010. $60. I can find other games that are certainly worth that price. So now we know, why EA Sports is losing money in sales. Madden football is no better. EA Sports should change thier motto to " if its in the game, wait til next year" But the nice thing is, I have the 2009 (college) version in which I got for less than $35. Plus, I can wait until April 2010 when the price of $60 will plummet to say $34.99 and they will come out with another tweaked game and a another new feature like 'Oh look, there goes the water boy , how cool is that!" I know it sounds negative, but its not fair to thousands of video gamers, when money is very tight to let go of.

JDDrummer
JDDrummer

Its an online points system for repping your school. So you can go online and see how dominate your school is across NCAA 10. For like solid tackling and user picks you gain skill points for repping your school. But there is also sportsmanship points so like if you onside kick when you have the lead, or at the start of the second half, which everybody loves to do, or if you go for it on 4th and long, you lose points for your school. I like it cause you can help and hurt your school and how it looks nationally across NCAA 10. I think its an awesome addition that will show players "True Skill" rather than just being florida and running deep slants with 98 speed WR. Pryor to Posey for 6. GO BUCKS

neonfrax2
neonfrax2

what's with the "+2 Skills" "+10 Sportsmanship" icons? I've never heard anything about this. It looks like some kind of experience point system to build up... players? coaching abilities? buy pennants to unlock special cheats? anybody heard anything?

USAF_HART
USAF_HART

Needless to say, i'm pretty dissapointed in this hands on update. The biggest thing they have to offer is player lock? Really!? I'm pretty sure if i pick CB in '09 and don't touch anything he does what he is supposed to do until take control over him. Is that not what player lock is? Now you want to say press a button and call it a new feature? Come on now! Then you want to say LOOK AT PLAYER LOCK! YOU CAN TAKE THE SAFETY AND KEEP HIM AS THE ONE GUY FOR THE PLAY! LOOK THE CAMERA EVEN GOES BEHIND HIM TO GET A BETTER VIEW OF THE FIELD! If i wanted this i would go play Campus Legend. I am very dissapointed in this hands on update. Hopefully the create-a-team feature isn't just a mask to keep everyone interested while they make no updates to this game.

caseysrodeo
caseysrodeo

Just an idea, pass it on to EA sports,.... let say you have a player that plays with you for four complete seasons, sets record after record their performance exceeds all expectations of the game. How about retiring the players number, name,...etc,.... just an idea.... Thanks.....

lotusclown
lotusclown

that defensive assist crap is gonna suck! u could already do that simply by not pressing anything, now they gotta make it a button, so now whenever u try to accelerate in speed you'll simply lose control all together, real cute EA sports... what bozo could have possibly thought that was a good idea and why isn't he out a job? man what is happening to videogames nowadays???

Urlacher54
Urlacher54

Ooh, i like the play-guessing mechanic! I just hope the AI doesn't line up and snap the ball in 2 seconds like it does in 09 and not give us any time to make pre-play adjustments. I barely even had enough time to zoom the camera out and still hot route a safety into a double coverage or shift my linebackers and linemen in 09.

thequietguy
thequietguy

The hands-on sounds sick; it would have been nice to see the video though. Because the video was an interview of the "soon-to-be-draftees" (which was nice), but I was hoping to see this whole new way of playing defense. I'm definately getting NCAA Football 10 though.

getbig
getbig

What part of that was hands on i seen highlight reels of the guys talking Crabtree won't even be part of the game!

ImYour13thStep
ImYour13thStep

I dont think ill be buying this one. Man someone needs to something with these football games. I dont know if its because of lack of competition or what.

GhastlyJoker
GhastlyJoker

the defensive assist button is already in the game, except there's no button. If you select a player on defensive and don't press anything once the ball is hiked then the cpu automatically takes control over the player's duties and once you touch something you start controlling him. I do it all the time as a corner in campus legend. I don't know what EA is trying to pull saying there's a button to do that now when it was already implemented into the game.. And no new gameplay, really. Pretty disappointing.

FunkytownKing
FunkytownKing

man stfu most game are the same of the previous ones anyway, shoot up games just change the landscape, sports games add a few new features and updated rosters. we all feeding the same corporate giants you are no better than the next man

bobstos
bobstos

It's still the same... damn... game... all you meat heads who are feeding these corporate giants who care nothing about the actual sport or game are just condemning yourselves to another wash-up sports title year, after year, after year...

dcj438
dcj438

yeah, like the Defensive AI was steller to begin with...

killer_rayray
killer_rayray

LoL, now scrubs who can't play D have an "easy button"..........