At first glance, NCAA Gamebreaker 2000 might not look or sound too different from last year's game, but once you sit down and play the game for any length of time you'll realize that the design team beefed up the game's features and its authenticity.
This higher level of authenticity is demonstrated by the game's plays, which were designed by Bob Toledo, head coach of UCLA and Pac-10 coach of the year. The plays themselves are quite different from anything you'd find in a NFL licensed game, even Gameday 2000. The unique plays are a nice change of pace for anyone who has played countless NFL games with the usual plays and formations we've seen a hundred times.
Whether you like the plays or not, Gamebreaker 2000 has a play editor that among other things lets you assign routes to all your receivers. The play editor is fairly intuitive and comprehensive, although it's pretty structured, so it won't let you do anything too crazy.
If you enjoy making plays in the play editor, then the new career mode might be right up your alley. This feature lets you test your skills as a coach at a small school. You'll help build that team up and play the season. Also, depending on your team's accomplishments in the area you coach, you could get a promotion or a better job offer from another school. However, if your team falls short at the end of the season you could get fired. This new feature is interesting and in-depth, and it will surely hold the attention of hard-core simulation fans who enjoy added extras like this for quite some time. Casual fans who simply enjoy the game's fast-paced action will probably try this once and quickly dismiss it. Other GM-type options include creating players and a playbook. In addition, once you get through the season, you can transfer your graduating seniors via a memory card to your roster on NFL Gameday 2000.
The recruiting feature is also back and is very similar to the one in last year's title. You can pick through the list of players and select those who look as though they could be the best candidates for the position. It's not quite as in depth as the feature in Electronic Arts' NCAA Football 2000, but it gets the job done.
One of the most unnecessary new additions to Gamebreaker 2000 is the celebration and show-off animations. Right after a play is complete you can celebrate, show off, or hurry to the huddle. I can understand the option to celebrate after a good play, but to be able to do it after every play - even when you throw an incomplete pass - is kind of odd. Sure, the ability to do this doesn't detract from the game, but it does seem kind of silly. The one thing that I can't understand is why the game has the show-off button, the show-off animations aren't that different from the celebration animations, and the refs call unsportsman-like conduct on you every time, costing you fifteen yards.
As with any good multiyear football game, the AI has to be improved from year to year, and the designers of Gamebreaker 2000 did just that. The offensive-line blocking and defensive coverage is a little smarter, and the computer doesn't let your players get too far away from the defenders , making you work a bit harder to complete a pass. On defense, it seems as though your cornerbacks have a tendency to be in just the right place more often than not to get a pick. Overall, the AI seems a little quicker and smarter, although for experienced players of NCAA Gamebreaker 99, the computer won't seem that difficult. Also, a lot of the plays that had holes in them last year have either been removed or tweaked.
The gameplay and control are mostly the same as last year's model, which is great since the total control passing and running game of NCAA Gamebreaker 2000 is still one of the most exciting and fun systems of any football game. In addition to this, the ability to choose whether you want to play the game with advanced or simplified controls is great. You're given the option when you're first learning the basic control scheme so you can have a chance to familiarize yourself with the game and bust off some moves without having to learn too much. Then, once you're comfortable, you have the ability to switch to the advanced controls for more precise control. Overall, the control doesn't feel that much different from last year's version; it just feels as though it's a little tighter and more in sync with some of the animations.
Visually, NCAA Gamebreaker 2000 is a little cleaner than the last game. The collision detection of the players could still be better, since the players are constantly walking through and into each other. While it doesn't bother me much post-play, I find it terribly frustrating during the action - especially when tackling. The only other thing that still bothers me about the game is that the players still look as though they're sliding atop the turf while juking. While the clipping and turf sliding are bothersome, they don't really detract from the otherwise smooth and bright graphics of Gamebreaker 2000.
In the audio department, the game seems on par with last year's title. Keith Jackson provides the play-by-play calls, which are still fresh and keep up with the action quite well. The sound effects, crowd sound, and accompanying ambient music really add to the whole college-football atmosphere.
In the end, Gamebreaker 2000 is a decent improvement over last year's title. Casual fans may not notice all the little nuances, plays, and animations, but fans of the Gamebreaker series surely will.