E3 2008: NCAA Football 09 All-Play Hands-On

EA's college football series is making its Wii debut, and we've got a hands-on look.

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The Wii-specific sports game push from EA Sports is intensifying this year. While a handful of sports games from the publisher were released on the Wii last year, the number will rise significantly this time around, with every major franchise--except for the NHL series--arriving on the Nintendo console. Last year's Wii games--including Madden, Tiger, and NBA Live 08--all fell under the banner of "family play," a moniker designed to denote the Wii's ease-of-play. This year, the series will be known as "All-Play," and at a recent pre-E3 event at Electronic Arts Los Angeles, we had a chance to check out a brand new addition to the All-Play family, with NCAA Football 09.

As with last year's games, the big news for the All-Play version of NCAA 09 is the ease of the controls. In last year's games, using the most basic controls in Madden or NBA Live gave much of the control to the AI. This was especially noticeable in NBA Live 08, where it rarely felt like you were in control of anything at all. As with other All-Play games, that's changed for the better in NCAA 09. You can control the direction your players are running, and practically any football move you might care to make is controlled simply by waggling the Wii Remote. These sort of moves are context sensitive, so you'll throw a stiff arm or a spin at the right time or make a tackle at the right moment when on defense. There's also a fun little post-touchdown celebration where you're required to move the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to pump up the crowd. If you get the fans fired up enough, you'll earn a small attribute boost for your team.

Of course, NCAA 09 isn't just for newbies and the elderly; there's also an advanced play option that will give you more exacting control over every aspect of your game on the field. In fact, the game has a deep set of options for players, including rivalry games, mascot games, and even a Dynasty mode for those who want to dive into the deep end of the college football experience. Up to four players can take part in NCAA 09 multiplayer games in various combinations (such as two-on-two or three-on-one contests). In addition, players of different skill levels can choose which control style (All-Play or advanced) they want to play in a game.

The textures and player models in NCAA 09 are relatively basic when compared to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game. However, the game does have a lot of authentic stadiums that college football fanatics insist on and seems to run at a solid frame rate too. The game is out this week, and we'll have a full review after E3.

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