NCAA 08 March Madness Review


It’s time to look at another basketball game. This one takes us to the college level of the sport rather than the NBA. Maybe this was intentional although I’m not sure, but the pace of the game is a lot slower. The players don’t move as quickly and you won’t be nailing the 3 point shots with ease. I’m guessing a whole lot of this is just placebo, but it’s definitely something that I felt like I noticed. I didn’t like it as much as the NBA games, but it’s still Basketball so you really can’t go wrong here.

There are the usual assortment of modes here, but you’ll probably want to get right into the matches. A new gimmick here is that before the game starts you can play a minigame where you try to score as many points as possible on your own and see if you can pass the total that the other team got. I was able to win the first minigame but then when trying to top the score from the final difficulty I couldn’t even get all that close. You need a lot of crazy skills to really go that far. It’s a fun little thing to make the game more unique.

Then we’ve got the actual basketball gameplay which is basically what you would expect from the others. You run up and down the field and try to make as many baskets as possible. Whoever scores the most wins. Passing and shooting is pretty basic and there are no meters so you just have to try and get the timing done. I really do prefer it that way so no meter is definitely fine by me. As I mentioned the speed is a bit slower so you’re going to want to do more passing here. Just running up the middle is definitely not going to cut it here. They’ll steal the ball like it’s nobody’s business.

Defense definitely feels extremely important here. I had a hard time stealing the ball, but the other team was definitely really good at it. There’s also a new technique you can do where you just lunge for the opponent’s ball. 9/10 times this will just result in a foul, but otherwise it is a guaranteed steal. Seems way too risky to be reliable, but maybe there’s actually a way to do it safely. If so, then that’s definitely a game changing move and you’re gonna want to have that one when you face off against real opponents.

This is usually where I’d throw in a tip but I basically got steamrolled when I fought the computer on the hardest difficulty. I won on the weaker one no prob, but on this mode I just couldn’t stop them and they would stop me about half the time. As a result the gap in the score just kept on growing. I guess your best bet is to try and anticipate who the computer is going to pass it to and make the steal that way. Otherwise they definitely aren’t going to miss many shots and even when they do their guy is always ready on the rebound. Stealing is always a tempting option of course, but foul them too many times and you’re going to see their free throws going up. Just as you won’t miss those (because they’re easy) the computer won’t either. Winning in a full on shootout like that is probably not going to work.

The graphics here are definitely pretty good. I’d say that they hold up pretty well personally. You won’t be distracted during the game or anything like that. If anything it’ll just hone your focus even more and make you ready for the sport. The songs aren’t memorable or catchy though so there’s not much to say on the soundtrack. This is par for the course with basketball games in general though. You’re not exactly buying a game like this to listen to the soundtrack.

As far as replay value goes there is a lot to do here. You can play basketball games for hours and starting a franchise is definitely not something that will end over night. That being said, as long as NBA exists there isn’t a whole lot of reason to play this one. I suppose if you’re just really into College Basketball in particular then it makes sense to get this one. Otherwise I just don’t imagine there will be a large audience for these games over the NBA ones. While it’s a minor point, I also like the NBA’s faster pace for the gameplay.

Overall, This was a fun game. It’s not exactly a game changer, but it’s always fun to have another sport title. I don’t really see this series around anymore so I get the feeling that it probably ended. I definitely have at least one more college basketball game coming up though so we’ll see how it stacks up to this one. It may feel like the sport games never end, but I only have around 30 left. Once Basketball ends it’ll probably slow down quite a bit though as I just don’t enjoy the other sports quite as well. All in all, I recommend this game, but you’re better off just sticking to NBA for the definitive basketball experience. That or 2K, that one is also supposed to be really good although I’ll find out for myself soon.

Overall 7/10

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NBA Live 08 Review


It’s time to head to the next NBA game. I’m still not sure what the difference between NBA 08 and NBA Live 08 is, but I suppose I’ll be finding out soon since we also own the normal NBA 08. This game may be the best of the 3 NBA titles that I’ve played recently though. It completely gets rid of the new gimmick where you see a meter when you shoot. It feels more like the good ole days and that’s definitely a good thing. I also feel like I’m finally hitting my stride here like the good ole days although I suppose it is also possible that this game is just easier than the other two.

Naturally I went right into the quick play mode to jump into some games right off the bat. I always have a game against the easy computers and then I jump right to the top. Well, this time I managed to beat the computer on both settings and that felt pretty good. The computer wasn’t making any obvious mistakes like the last game, it’s more like they just couldn’t stop me here. Whenever they would be closing in I would just make the pass and keep it moving. It was a lot of fundamentals and maybe also a degree of remembering how the computer acts as I have gotten to play against the computers quite a bit lately.

One strategy that almost always works is to run to on the bottom side of the screen and pass up when you’re close. The computer will stand there with a confused expression while you score. This works on all difficulties and often times you can also beat the computer one on one. Just go for the shot and you’ll make it. While there is no meter, I would usually hold down the shot button for a second or two. It just seemed to increase the accuracy but it could easily be a placebo effect going on there.

Interestingly, the computer does start to panic near the end though. I was winning by a good amount as the game was ending and the A.I. seemed to take that as a cue to start hitting me with fouls. The final minute or two I couldn’t even move as they would immediately foul me so I would go to the free throw line. The logic seemed to be that whether I made the shots or not they would get the ball again. If so, this was a pretty desperate strategy indeed. Plus, the free throws are fairly easy, I made 7/9 which wasn’t half bad. In general I thought the controls were really on point here. You won’t do anything that you didn’t plan on doing and that’s important. There are no glitches to be found either.

There are the usual extra modes available here, but for once I decided to quickly try one of them out. I tried the Dunk Contest and while I like the concept, I think it could have explained the controls a little better. The goal is to land a good dunk with style points to be the best, but the controls are a little different than the average game. You can’t just run up and dunk after all. You have to wow the crowd with a lot of fancy ball tricks and movement before you can dunk. My character would just drop the ball and so I lost the game without scoring a single point. That’s not enough to make me say that it’s a bad mode, but it did remind me why I usually stick to the main one.

As always the graphics are on point here. Everything looks nice and detailed. The colors are sharp and the character designs seem pretty well made. The way the menu loads is the new style where it takes you right into the basketball court so you can shoot some hoops while it loads. I always felt like this probably slows down the loading time, but it is a fun way to pass the time. You can practice all of your skills here and practicing is definitely important. It helps the replay value even further although that’s never a weakness for a sport game.

Overall, NBA Live 08 is pretty great as expected. It’s more or less the same as the other two NBA games so at the end of the day it boils down to how much you like Basketball. If you like it a lot then you’ll be fine. If you only like it a bit then you’d probably get bored so just keep that in mind. The whole game is built around the sport because you’re supposed to just have a lot of fun going through the games. For what it’s worth, I definitely think the game succeeds in that area. It’s got a really nice presentation overall so they didn’t cut any corners here. It also goes for a good price nowadays so don’t worry about spending a bunch on this one.

Overall 8/10

NCAA Football 12 Review


It’s time for my NCAA Football marathon to come to a close. It’s been a good run but they must all end someday. This one actually does change the gameplay up quite drastically compared to the last games which were pretty much identical. Unfortunately I don’t think it works quite as well as the last few. This one slows down the pacing so it’s more of a classic football simulator. Not a bad idea, but after playing the fast paced ones it is just hard to go back.

The array of game modes are pretty much the same as always. I’m not sure why they listed quick play as a new mode inside of the game, but I’ll assume that was a quick misdirect to try and get more sales in and trick people into thinking there is more content. It wouldn’t exactly be the most sinister thing that EA ever did after all. There’s franchise mode, practice, and a bunch of other options. I believe the servers are likely down for this one so don’t expect to be getting into some crispy online battles just yet.

Either way the majority of your time in the game will be playing full Football matches which is why the gameplay is key. You can’t just cheese the game by running in with your quarterback anymore. This game really encourages you to run the ball with your running back as you would typically do in real life. It works well enough and for the record I was still able to win against the computer on Heisman level. It just meant playing very patiently and working on getting used to how this game rolls. For the first few drives I actually wasn’t able to score so I definitely did have to take a step back and re-evaluate how I was playing. Once I got the hang of it then it was off to the races. I found that the best plays were still slants and crossing patterns. The computer always seems to have a tough time with those no matter what year it is.

Surprisingly the computer wasn’t so good on offense this time around which is the only reason I was able to stay in the game. I was able to stop them many times. It almost felt like a glitch at points as the computers would try the same screen pass over and over again. They’d either run it or screen it, but they never really went for real throws. It happened so infrequently and that worked out for me since it’s hard to protect against the longer shots. I kept holding them to field goals so that was pretty cool. I still think something didn’t seem right. When zooming out to see the play it would also flicker at times so there may be something up with my copy after all.

Regardless, the gameplay is still a lot of fun. It may not be as fast as the others, but every aspect of the gameplay is still very polished. You have a lot of control over the player and there are so many different plays you can run. Each game will never feel quite the same as the last one with so many variables intact. Part of why I love the Football games is because of how fun and peaceful they are. You can get lost in these games for a long time as you just go play by play. Before you know it you’ll have gone through the full season. This definitely reminds me that I need to go and play the next Madden soon.

As for the graphics, they’re definitely on point as you would expect. Everything looks pretty sharp and while it isn’t a big change from the other games, this series has never looked bad. EA is always proud of their graphics so that doesn’t really come as a surprise. The sound effects are on point and the game holds up as well as you would expect it to on a technical level. There’s a lot of content here as I already mentioned so you don’t need to worry about replay value. Considering that you can get this game for a dollar now, that’s more than enough content to keep you busy.

Overall, NCAA Football continues to impress. It’s certainly the best ongoing sport series aside from Madden. If the games are still coming out then I’m pretty behind at this point since this is the latest saga in the series that I own. I’ll definitely take a look and see if I notice any newer ones next time I’m at Gamestop. I definitely recommend this game if you like Football and naturally I’d skip on it if you don’t. It’s the kind of game that completely depends on whether you enjoy the sport so you’ll likely know right away whether this is the game for you or not. Now I’ve gotten my sport backlog down to 37 games which is pretty cool. You’ll be seeing it at 0 before you know it!

Overall 9/10

Star Wars Battlefront II Review


It’s time to look at the next Star Wars title! The first Battlefront was pretty fun with its unique take on the beat em up genre. You had to rely on tactics to win and playing as an expendable agent instead of a super fighter was pretty fun. Interestingly this one actually changes the formula considerably to the point where it now lets you play as the OP Jedi/Sith for a bit and the tactics element is removed. I’d still call it an overall improvement to the first game, but I must admit that I do miss the old gameplay style.

The game follows the exploits of the 501 commander unit. These Stormtroopers are the best of the best in their craft. It turns out that they were at all the big battles in the Star Wars mythos. Each of the levels typically has a short live action clip from the movies to let you know where this takes place and then some narration from the lead as he talks about how tragic the whole thing is. These Stormtroopers weren’t just men, they were a family and all the betrayals really took their toll on these guys.

Let me explain how the gameplay is different from the first game. In this one you have an objective to objective structure. The game tells you to conquer area A, then blow up some things, then take over area B, etc. You have a certain amount of reinforcements so if you go over that then you lose the game. It’s not like the first game where you have to take over all the areas at once or take down all of the troops to win. This one is all about doing things one step at a time. It’s fun as well of course, but the first game’s design was a whole lot more unique. You actually felt like you were a Stormtrooper in that one. Here, you are a lot stronger and won’t find yourself dying instantly the way you would in the other title.

There are also points in the various levels where you get to play as one of the Jedi or a Sith. In this form you have your lightsaber and a lot of force abilities. You feel pretty OP here, but once the section is over the computer will usually find a way to take you out real quick. Once the minions start blasting you even The Force can’t save you from such an onslaught. It’s a fun way to mix up the gameplay styles. While it may take away from the point of the game, I can’t deny that it is satisfying.

A third gameplay mode was added and this one is the weakest. There are various space levels (That are actually skippable which shows that the game wasn’t too confident in them) where you have to try to take down enemy ships and continue your conquest. These levels are pretty unforgiving with the time limit and the controls also aren’t all that responsive. Case in point, you boost using the R3 button but it never worked. Maybe it’s my controller which couldn’t handle that, but it made these levels even more difficult. It’s also hard to dodge enemy fire and I think this part was slapped on without too much effort. The game did not need any kind of space levels and would have been fine just sticking to ground support.

Of course if we don’t compare this one to the first game then the gameplay certainly does hold up pretty well on its own. I’ve always been a fan of third person shooters even if they aren’t nearly as big as the first person ones. The close quarters combat with the lightsaber is also pretty fun even if it isn’t yet all that refined. I think a big reason as to why the Battlefront series is so big is because the shooting aspect is so fresh compared to the other titles. It’s a shame that the name has been associated with the more negatively received games EA pumped out recently, but it can’t stop these classics from still being really good.

The graphics have definitely improved from the first game which is certainly a good thing. They hold up quite well and you’ll be able to see the levels a lot better than you could in the first title. My favorite level is the ship from the first scene of Episode IV. It’s pretty fun to relive that moment. The character designs are all on point and the game never wavers. The soundtrack isn’t particularly memorable though. We get all the classic tunes and that’s about it. I suppose when you’ve got tunes this memorable there is no reason not to use them right?

As far as replay value goes, this game does have more modes than the last one. In addition to the story mode you can just pick up and play random missions for fun. You’ve also still got multiplayer mode. It’s not the largest selection, but it’s enough to get you going. I imagine you can probably buy this game for pretty cheap right now as well so it’s not like you’ll be spending a whole lot of money here. It’s a game that is worth getting and there is definitely enough content to make the purchase worth it.

Overall, Battlefront II is a solid sequel. While some of the decisions it makes are pretty questionable, it does deliver on being a fresh experience. You certainly can’t accuse this game of just copying the first one over. There was clearly fresh development here and having an actual story was also a pretty nice improvement from the first one. On the whole I do give this game the edge over the first one even if I did prefer the gameplay style of the first. It’s not cut and dry as the pure gameplay here is better, but the actual level designs, how you win a level, and durability make the first one’s gameplay feel more genuine. It was the better package, but that alone isn’t enough to combat the fact that the sequel wins in all other categories. Next it’s time to see how the PSP spinoffs fare.

Overall 7/10

NCAA Football 09 Review


With the FIFA marathon over it’s time to finally take a look at a different sport. Usually you save the best one for last but I was in the mood for something epic so I jumped over to NCAA Football. Right away I feel like I’m back on my home turf. There aren’t a whole lot of differences between Madden and NCAA after all so the skills transfer over. I made sure to squeeze in a match against the computer on Heisman difficulty (Highest level) and was able to win so I’ve still got it. It’s a game that really holds up to the test of time.

One thing you’ll notice right away is that the Quarterback moves very quick. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, after all Madden had some fast quarterbacks as well like Vick in 2004. Still, the ones I played here were fast like that as well which made my offense unstoppable. One of the best plays to run is the screen pass. You can treat it like an option play as you start running and gauge the defense right away. If the defenders start running at you then you can flip it to the running back, but if they don’t you can really run. I managed to get quite a few runs of over 10 yards and even broke away for one 20+ gain. Running the ball normally is also pretty effective at times. I averaged about 7 yards a pop.

Really the only part that is always tricky is passing it. Unless the receiver is wide open it feels like the pass will always get picked off or the guy will drop it. Typically the best chance to make the catch seems to be on a slant route or a crossing pattern. I also like the Hail Mary play. For some reason they usually don’t cover the TE right away so if you throw it almost immediately you’ll get around 10 yards easy. Occasionally they do defend him though so you do want to stay sharp and not just flip it on instinct.

I sort of skipped the gameplay rules here, but it’s classic Football. That means there are a lot of rules here. Sort of like how FIFA went over my head, this will likely be very tough for someone if it’s their first NCAA game. Still, if you know the rules of the real sport then you’ll be ready for action here. One difference from the NFL seems to be in how the play clock will stop even if you’re tackled in-bounds at times. I’m sure there’s some kind of explanation for this, but I’m not sure what it is. There are 2 main sides to the game, Offense and Defense. Naturally I prefer playing Offense for the most part as I get to think on the fly and try every trick in the book to secure the edge. Defense can be good, but at times it may feel futile as the computer runs all over you. I’m sure there are more tricks to this side than what I know which is probably the issue, but offense just feels a whole lot more satisfying. You can have the other team at your mercy.

Special Teams happens after every score or punt and that’s when you get a chance to run across as much of the field as you can before you’re tackled. I feel like they may have actually made this part a little easier as I ran back 3 kicks for touchdowns. Typically this is an extremely rare event, but you wouldn’t know that from NCAA 09. It did feel pretty satisfying I must admit though. I don’t think this summary really does the gameplay justice so I suggest just reading up the rules online before jumping in. It is a complex game for sure.

The graphics are definitely pretty solid as you’d expect. By this point EA wasn’t going in too hard with the cutscenes and animations so the game is pretty fast paced. You go from play to play seamlessly. Every play is very clear and you can see the amount of care and detail that went into this game. There isn’t much of a soundtrack but the effects are on point. The commentary may not be there in the same way as Madden, but overall you feel like you’re in a real Football game while playing through this game.

It almost goes without saying that the amount of content here is through the roof. You can jump into quick games, go for full franchise mode or even play some minigames. The online may not work anymore, but the local content is still more than enough to keep you going for a very long time. This is one of those games that never technically has to end as each game is a fresh experience. I don’t imagine you’ll stay with this game for too long as you move on to newer ones, but you’ve got a lot of value here.

Overall, NCAA Football 09 is definitely a game that you’ll want to get. I know that these sport titles are known for being the same year after year but you have to recognize that this is because you never want to fix something that isn’t broken. EA knows that they’ve got a winning system here so changing that definitely wouldn’t be a good idea. It’ll be fun to see how the next games improve on this one and I’m sure that they’l find ways to do so, but there’s only so much you can do at this point. Whether you’ve played the others or not, this one is only 1-2 dollars so it’s not going to break the bank should you decide to take the plunge with it.

Overall 9/10

FIFA 08 Review


My FIFA marathon is now at an end. 08 is the final game I own that I have not covered yet. It’s definitely been cool going through the years like this. I’m not sure what sport is next, but I think I’m in the mood for something super hype like Football so that’s probably gonna be the one. I’m out of Madden games (Aside from a Head Coach title) so most likely it’ll be college Football. Either way lets get back on topic. FIFA 08 is definitely not quite as good as 09 and 10 but it’s pretty close tbh. FIFA is definitely a game where you don’t see much of a difference in gameplay or graphics til we get even newer than that.

As always you’ve got a pretty good amount of options for which mode you want to play. You can jump right into a quick battle or head online. Well, the online is disabled so scratch that option. You can play a franchise mode which is honestly your best bet if you’re going to be playing this one for a long time. This way you can play a lot of games in a row and actually see yourself improve as you go through the matches. Even if you don’t make the playoffs it isn’t the end of the world as you can play more than one season. The franchise keeps on going until you decide to stop playing. In that sense the game never truly ends. There are also tutorials and practice mode to play which will help you hone your skills.

I am now confidently at the point where I can defeat the A.I. on the first dificulty level. Unfortunately after that it starts to get hairy. I fought the computer at the highest difficulty level in the game and only lost 2-0 so I felt pretty good about that. As always I am great on defense, it’s just the offensive side of the ball where I can’t really keep up. I don’t get how the players do it because it really doesn’t seem like there is any kind of opening. I really need to watch some Youtube videos or something. On defense if I play conservatively then I should usually be able to force a 0-0 game, but it gets tedious after a while so then I just start running in and hitting people. Obviously this will result in a lot of flags so it usually isn’t worth throwing the move out there without a plan. It’s fun though.

As I mentioned the graphics are basically the same as last time. The stages all look good and the player details are on point. I can’t really speak to the soundtrack much as you just won’t hear it while playing. On a technical level I also like how the celebrations are handled after a play and after a game. They’re actually pretty realistic and there are enough variations of them where you don’t feel like you are watching the same things over and over again. Having a solid selection of celebrations is about as important as having them in the first place if you ask me.

As for the gameplay, it’s pretty straight forward. As long as you know the rules of Soccer then you’ll definitely be able to get into the action here. The toughest part as I mentioned is kicking the ball. It’s hard to angle your kicks and taking the time to power them up is risky since the opponents will slide in. There’s a lot of strategy here so think of playing the game as trying to crack a code. Even if I was unable to crack the code I can definitely respect the fact that the gameplay was handled pretty well. There’s a lot of nuance here and attention to detail.

One technique I practiced a bit so I could at least say I tried to get into the deeper aspects of the game was the ball shuffle. I’m not sure what the exact term of this is, but by moving the right joystick on the controller you’re able to try and juke around the defenders. It didn’t work a single time so it seems to be about as useful as the juke in the Madden games. Usually in these games the computers just don’t fall for anything, but I do think it’ll probably work a whole lot better if I use it against real players. That’s when you know if you’ve mastered the technique or not. The only part where the human element doesn’t really come into play is the goalie so that’ll be tough regardless of who you’re playing.

Overall, FIFA 08 is definitely a fun game. There’s really no point in buying it at the moment since the later games already go for 1-2 dollars. Still, if you really want to collect all of the FIFA games then you might as well get it. Ignoring the fact that there are sequels, FIFA 08 still stands loud and proud as a solid video game. There really aren’t any glaring negatives. It’s just a very complete soccer game. There’s nothing to do but play soccer when playing FIFA 08, but why else would you get the game? So long as you enjoy playing the sport I’m sure you’ll enjoy this title.

Overall 7/10