This year, it seems every PlayStation sports game franchise has received two things, a roster update and new packaging. NCAA GameBreaker 2001 is no different. However, Sony has left well enough alone and has made only a few inconsequential changes and additions that are hard for even the most die-hard GameBreaker fan to notice.
Aside from the new menu screens, NCAA GameBreaker 2001 is almost identical to NCAA GameBreaker 2000, which isn't a terrible thing since last year's game was really good. However, so little has changed in the game in terms of gameplay, graphics, and features that the new plays, historical teams, and additional fight songs may not be enough to warrant a purchase this year.
This year the game features 179 teams, 115 Division 1-A teams and 64 classic teams, and all the schools' home stadiums. NCAA GameBreaker 2001 still features the usual modes of play including fantasy league, scrimmage, tournament, and season. Also untouched is the ability to create players and transfer them over to the latest version of NFL GameDay using a memory card, in addition to scouting high school recruits. You can also still test your skills as a coach in the career mode, where you start out at a small school and help to build a solid team. Depending on how well it does, you can get a promotion or a better job offer from another school.
In terms of gameplay and control, NCAA GameBreaker 2001 is virtually the same game as NCAA GameBreaker 2000. Once again, this can be seen as a positive, since the GameBreaker series certainly has a wonderful control scheme. The game still gives you the option to choose between a standard control scheme or a more complex, total control setup that gives you the ability to direct passes more precisely. The basic mode is great for beginners who just want to play a game of football without having to memorize button configurations. Then, once you're comfortable, you have the ability to switch to the advanced controls for more control. The control as a whole is very responsive.
The one area NCAA GameBreaker 2001 changed slightly is in AI. Most of the money plays and AI bugs that can be found in NCAA GameBreaker 2000 have been fixed. The computer is a little better about throwing the ball, both in terms of getting it to the receivers and keeping it away from your cornerbacks.
Visually, NCAA GameBreaker 2001, for the most part, looks just like last year's model, collision detection problems included. The one exception is that the game has new animations for tackling and for player celebrations. The player models, while simple, have nice, fluid animations, which make them look and move quite realistically. The stadiums and crowds look the same as last year's, which were decent.
In the audio department, the game seems on par with last year's title. Keith Jackson provides the play-by-play calls once again, which sync up with the action quite well. The sound effects, crowd sounds, and accompanying fight songs really add to the whole college football atmosphere, although the 30 fight songs get to be a bit tedious after a while.
In the end, NCAA GameBreaker 2001 is basically the same as last year's model. If you're a casual fan of the GameBreaker series, you'll have a hard time seeing any difference between the two games. Only die-hard fans who have figured out all of the money plays, found every little AI flaw, and have grown tired of the plays in last year's game will appreciate the subtle changes.