Ncaa Football 2005

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Dynasty Mode

Preseason
The Preseason is the first stop on your Dynasty journey. There are several choices in the Preseason menu, and many of them are discussed below in the During the Season section. However, there are a couple of choices reserved for the Preseason.

Preseason Options: Custom Schedules
This allows you to set up who you will play. There are two or three default games already, but you can edit them to get better matchups. There are two basic philosophies here. If you are a struggling school trying to establish itself in the game, you might want to go against some mid-range opponents (Rankings 15-25) to put yourself on the map. Otherwise, here's what you do:

  • Going for the Undefeated Season
    If you are a decent team in a pathetic conference, you might just want to play cupcakes and go for the undefeated season. In this case, you can play some games against the dregs of college football (peruse the ratings to see who they are). That way, you'll ensure a great season and lock in a bowl bid.
  • Boosting Your Ranking Early
    In order to establish yourself as the team to beat early in the season, and get a crack at the national championship, load up your preseason with contenders. I'm talking the USCs, Miamis, Floridas and Nebraskas of the world. Put one high-ranking school on the docket early and you'll ensure yourself of a ranking.. as long as you can keep winning. The other thing playing ranked opponents does is allow you to build your EA Bio early on.. provided you actually win.

The Pre-Season isn't all that involved. Once you're done with match-ups, head over to redshirting freshmen and sit some athletes down! It will help you in the long run. Here's the philosophy behind it:

Preseason Options: Redshirting
For those who don't know, 'redshirting' is sitting out a year from the team whilst not losing one of the four years of eligibility. Usually a team will redshirt a freshman player to give him a chance to get accustomed to college life, sharpen up his studies, or to give him time to develop his football skills.

It's more likely that you'll redshirt a player at a position where you have a lot of depth. If you have a junior and a senior QB who are both awesome players and you just recruited another freshman stud, there's no sense in keeping the freshman on the bench. He's probably not going to play because of the guys ahead of him, so why waste a year of his eligibility? Redshirt him for a year, and next season he can be the backup QB as a redshirt freshman. This way he still has all four years of eligibility remaining. Now if disaster befalls your first two QBs you can pull the frosh off the redshirt list and put him on your active roster, which forfeits that redshirt year for him. He's got to play out all four consecutive years now.

Also, you can redshirt a player in any year. If you like the way your junior linebacker has developed and you know you've got a sophomore linebacker who's going to be a gamer as well, you can make sure they play their last two seasons side by side by redshirting the junior. You take the lump this season by holding back a talented player, but you'll have two awesome guys going for you the next season and the season after that.

You can only redshirt a player during the offseason, but you can bring a guy off the redshirt list during the season. It's better to put a guy on there knowing you can take him off later than to miss the opportunity to sit a player when you had the chance. Also, players will develop and improve their skills during their redshirt year, so it's almost like you're getting an extra year of ratings boost by redshirting a player at some point during his college career. Once you're all done tweaking, go back to the menu and select Play Week to start playing!

During the Season

Aside from playing (or simming) the actual games, there's quite a bit to do and see during the course of the season, although admittedly, a lot of it revolves around tracking your progress in the game. We'll work our way through the Dynasty Mode menu, and help you understand everything that's going on.

Play Week
This allows you to play the upcoming games your team has scheduled. Once you select it, you have a choice to select either Weekly Schedule or Team Schedule. Team Schedule is much more straightforward, as it simply shows your own team's games, and isn't mixed up in the hodge podge of the rest of the weekend's offerings.

If a big star appears next to the game, it is the Game of the Week. This is reserved for matchups of highly ranked teams, huge rivalry matches and the like. Count yourself fortunate if you get one of these. That is, unless you're Miami, where a Game of the Week can be a weekly occurence.

Sports Illustrated
SI is back this year with pretty much the same options as last year. After each week of competition, the cover will change to reflect the weekend's biggest happenings. It's quite a rare achievement to score the cover, so consider yourself a stud if you do. That is, unless you made the cover by losing to Harvard as Ohio State. In addition to the weekly cover that appears on the Dynasty Mode splash screen, there are individual covers for all of the categories within this section. They are:

  • Bowl Rankings: Take a look at how the BCS rankings are stacking up. If you're undefeated, or anywhere in the top ten teams in the country, expect to see your name somewhere on this list.
  • Top 25 Polls: Since one Top 25 isn't complex or arbitrary enough, there are two: the Coaches' Poll and the Media Poll. If you're lingering near the bottom of one, you may not be on the other. You also might find it hard to break into these polls unless you are playing stiff competition. Win the big games, get ranked.
  • Heisman Watch: This section tracks the top five prospects for the Heisman Trophy (awarded to the best player in college football). In order to get one of your players on this list, he'll have to be leading in a major statistical category or two (like passing, running, or receiving). Prospects are tracked week to week to show performance. If their level of play stayed the same, a sideways arrow will display. If the athlete improved, a green arrow pointing up will show. If the player sucked it up on the field, his falling stock will be reflected by a red arrow pointing down.
  • Awards Finalists: There are other awards besides the Heisman, and this is where you can track them. These awards track twelve athletes per category, but we all know that the top three are the only real contenders. Still, it is an honor to get one of your players placed on any of these lists, especially if you aren't playing with a Top 25 school.
  • Bowl Projections: One of the most important things in the SI menu, this gives you updates as to what Bowl you could potentially be in. Your progress through the season and ranking both nationally and within your conference will play a big part in what Bowl you get selected for (if any). As a general rule of thumb, you'll want to win seven of twelve games to be considered.
  • Players of the Week: Not all awards are given out at the end of the year. NCAA Player of the Week honors are dished out every seven days, for the entire country, as well as individual conferences. You'll need an amazing performance to qualify for overall NCAA honors, but conference PoWs aren't that hard to pick up.
  • Conference Standings: See how you rate with your contemporaries. Win as many possible conference games to qualify for the best post-season goodies.. and keep your eye on the scores of those above you (if there are any).
  • Archived Covers: Remember how you got a cover in Week Three, and haven't gotten one since? Well, select this option and relive the glory days. Covers for every week of the season are available.

Note: In the Preseason, you will see Preseason Polls, Preseason All-Americans and Conference Outlook here. Not every section of the SI menu will display until later in the season, close to Bowl time.

Stat Book
This is quite straightforward. It's a simple book of stats.. and it tracks all the teams. You can break the display into these easy-to-understand categories:

  • Season Stats: Tracks season stats of your individual players.
  • Career Stats: Tracks career stats of your individual players.
  • Team Stats: Like it sounds.
  • Stat Rankings: This shows you how your team compares to other collegiate squads.

Coach Options
Here's where you manage your coach's career. From this menu, set team strategies, review the AD's expectations and see what else there is on the job front.

Ncaa Football 2005 Instructions

  • Strategy: You can do several things here. If you're not happy with your team's playbook, select a new one! You can also choose to turn recruiting assistance on or off. In your first season, keep this set to 'on' so you can get a sense of how things are supposed to work. Then, once you've seen it done, tackle it on your own. The other options here are to tweak whether your team concentrates more on the run than the pass, and if you like to sub a lot. To be honest, these are more philosophical than anything. It doesn't seem like choices here reflect themselves much in gameplay.
  • Positions: This allows you to create a coach, edit your existing coach's appearance, or quit your current job and go looking for new challenge.
  • Report Card: On this screen, you'll see a thumbnail of your career, and the current season. Be sure to check out the job security bar on the left side of the screen. If your team is winning, or you've resurrected the program, this will be in the A-A+ range. Be worried if you're at C or below. You don't want to get fired! Use the Report Card to see what expectations are (by glimpsing the Contract Info). Remember, the worse the program you inherit, the lower the expectations are going to be. You can also see how your attendance is, and how you've fared in TV games at this screen.

Features
The Features menu only has two options: Rosters and Create-a-Playbook. Be sure to go to Create-a-Playbook to set your audibles.. all of them. You don't want to be stuck at the line of scrimmage without any recourse when the D has stacked the run and you're running a HB Dive.

My NCAA
This menu is so special, it exists in many sections of the game. We've also dedicated a My NCAAsection of the guide to it. Click the link for more info.

Early Off-Season
After the regular season and before the bowls, conference championship trophies will be presented. After the Heisman has been presented, you will learn whether or not you've received a bid to play in a Bowl game. If so, you'll have one more game to play. If not, get gear up for the recruiting process a little earlier.

If you did exceptionally well, and surpassed expected goals, the university may offer you (as Coach) an extension. You can choose to accept or decline. If you're planning to build your squad into an unbeatable Dynasty, better sign. If you performed under expectations, they may show you the door. All of this will happen before you ever get to the postseason menu.

The offseason menu contains much of what the during-season menu did. The following sections are exactly the same (see above section if you're wondering what they all are):

  • Stat Book
  • Coach Strategy
  • My NCAA

Features
The Features section contains one thing it did not during the season.. Create-a-Prospect. This allows you to build a Prospect, much as you do Create-a-Player. You'll also be able to tweak Rosters and Create-a-Playbook from here.

Recruiting Recap
This will only show up after you've.. um.. done some recruiting. Take a look at the Offseason Schedule/Recruiting portion below to see what you're in for. Return to this section when you're done with the process to get a quick glimpse of all that went down.

Sports Illustrated
The Sports Illustrated section of the Offseason menu focuses on the same kinds of things it did during the regular season: mainly accomplishments and awards. Here's a rundown of each section.

  • Heisman Winner: This section displays the top five vote-getters for the Heisman, as well as who won.
  • Award Winners: All of the other award winners are displayed here, including Best RB, Best QB and Best Coach. Win one, and be rewarded in the EA Sports Bio.
  • All-Americans: A full list of every All-American. 1st Team, 2nd Team and Freshman honors are handed out here.
  • Bowl Results: Who won the Rose Bowl? Who won the AXA Liberty Bowl? Find out here, and get some info about each game, if the spirit moves you.
  • Top 25 Polls: How did your squad end the season? Did you even make the Top 25? Did the Bowl game elevate you in the rankings? Check the slate one last time.
  • Players of the Week: Peruse past Players of the Week for the entire season.
  • Final Standings: Here's where you can view the full list of just where every college team finished the year. You can also search by conference.
  • Archived Covers: Take a gander at all 22 weeks' worth of SI covers.

Off-Season Schedule/Recruiting

There is one last thing to do in the offseason, and it's both the most important and the most time-consuming. It's also at the top of the Dynasty list. It's the Offseason Schedule, and it will walk you through the recruiting process. Click on it to go to an eight-step menu. At any time, you can skip down this list and have your assistant coach handle the recruiting duties. But what fun would that be?

Step 1: School Budgets
This is a new step on the journey for 2005. There are three sliders you can manipulate here in order to allocate moneys to different portions of your school's budget. You start with 0 available percentage points, so in order to add points to any area, you'll have to take them away from another one. Here's how they break down:

  • Recruiting: Smaller schools might have some difficulty pulling in talent, and you may want to consider cranking up the Recruiting budget a bit to help in this effort. You probably still won't be able to pull in the AAA players, but the quality of interest will generally be better. If you're a prestigious school, don't get too carried away with this slider.
  • Training: This is where you can improve the stats of your existing players and the ones you recruit. If you are only planning on playing a season or two of Dynasty, go ahead and crank this slider up. It will help make your existing guys good, sacrificing the future for some short-term gains.
  • Discipline: Don't change this slider too much, because the further it drops down, the harder it will be to keep your players in line as the year progresses.

Step 2: Players Leaving
Here's where you bid your hard-working warriors adieu. Will they leave and head for greener pastures in the NFL? If they do, make sure you export your save for use in Madden 2005. There are three ways players can leave. First, they can graduate. This happens when a player uses up all of his eligibility.. err.. completes his studies and receives a degree. When a player has played his senior year, he has to leave, even if all that's waiting for him is a job as a ditch digger. Second, he can choose to go to another school, claiming he is not making a difference on the current team. Some of your better players may also want to depart for the NFL early. If a player is good and wants to go, there's really nothing you can do about it.

There is a way to keep guys around if they're headed out the door, but it involves using some of your recruitment points for Week One. Our opinion? There aren't too many indispensible athletes. Unless you have an emotional attachment to a guy, let him leave. After all, you don't want to have to play like crap just to keep your talented people around. Let them go.. you'll make more. When you're done, you'll have two choices.. either export your draft class or simply continue to recruiting. Exporting your draft class only need be done if you plan on playing Franchise Mode in Madden 2005 .

Step 3: Recruiting
Recruiting Central displays a map of the US, and highlights your home state. From this location, you can get Recruiting Reports or check your squad's Team Overview. On the Recruiting Report, you'll see these options:

  • State Prospects: A list of all of the prospects from the state where your school is located.
  • Current Targets: The players to whom you've offered scholarships. After week one, it will still list them even if they've committed to other schools.
  • National Top 100: A list of the top 100 players in the nation regardless of position. All of them are blue chip prospects as designated by the five stars next to their names. Don't even try to land one of these guys unless your team has at least four stars of prestige.
  • All Prospects: Just like it says, this is the massive list of every school kid and junior college player that wants a scholarship to play ball.
  • Interested Prospects: The most helpful list. It includes all of the players, both good and bad, who want to come to your school.
  • Returning Players: Also very helpful. See exactly where your strengths are at a micro level, and look at individual stats. For instance, if you know you have one slow receiver, you may want to look slightly beyond rating when recruiting and pick up a faster WR.

On the Team Overview screen, you'll see a global view of how your team is composed, and ratings of each and every position. Obviously, you want to attack the lowest rated areas first and make sure those are hammered down before working on improving some of the other areas.

Other things to note here include number of scholarships you have left (this is the total number of players you'll be able to recruit). You'll also want to take a look at any orange categories. This means that you're light on players at that position, and you'll need to fill them up. If a line is orange, look over to the far right where it says 'Needs' to see how many to recruit.

You'll have five total weeks to recruit players, and you should keep an eye on your Team Overview after every move you make. After all, you want to have the fullest, best squad possible at the end of the recruiting period, or you could lose ground in your conference.

Start with Interested Prospects. If there are five star athletes looking at your school, lucky you. Throw some resources at them to move yourself up in their estimation. Especially go after highly-rated players who have you listed as the first school in their Top 3.

If you're interested in getting a guy, you can do two things with the Prospect: Scout or Recruit. Scouting will give you a quick idea of the player's strengths and weaknesses, and how he measures up in areas of strength and speed, based on 40 speed and bench press, etc. Scouting guys costs recruiting points, so don't scout every last person you're interested in. If a guy has a high star rating, consider that he will probably be a quality player even if he's not exactly what you thought he'd be. Save your recruiting points for the Recruiting process, and to scout players who are really questionable. However, if you really want to land a guy, don't be bashful about throwing some heavy artillery his way.

Now it's time to Recruit! When talking to players, you can stress different things. Scroll back and forth where it says 'Pitch' in order to talk up Coach Prestige, Program Prestige, Location, Playing Time, or Coaching Style. If it's a local boy, you can talk about location. QBs might dig the Coaching Style angle. If your school is extremely respected, pitch the Prestige angle, but only if you have the stars to back it up.

With highly-rated players who are also interested in you, make sure you give them at least a visit from your head coach. Even if the interest level is high, you want to keep it up there. If interest is flagging a bit, and you can spare some points, go ahead and double-team a guy with coach and assistant coach visits. It may pay huge dividends.

When you are done with Interested Prospects, head to your State Prospects. Use the Location angle on these guys, and visit the highly-rated ones with at least one coach to bring up their interest level. Even if a player does not currently have an interest in you, you may want to try the Location thing and throw some points at him to see if you can get him interested. Remember, it's a five-week process and you don't need to do it all the first week.. but you do have to plant the seeds.

If you still have a lot of points remaining after pursuing Interested and State prospects, take a quick gander at the National Top 100. If there is anyone on this list interested in you, make sure to throw the full load of points at you. If he is a player at a skill position, preach Playing Time. Otherwise, preach Coaching Style or Location (if nearby). Don't waste points on someone whose interest level is less than half, though. They'll probably go elsewhere.

Once you have done all you can, go back to the main map and press Start. Advance to the next week if you want to keep recruiting, or Simulate All Weeks if you don't care. If you choose to do the next week, set things in motion, and you'll begin to see prospects commiting to your university. If you didn't land many recruits the first week, lower your sights a little. Focus on the players who are interested in you in the next rounds, and throw a lot of points at the guys you really want. Remember, you are competing against more than a hundred other schools. Sweeten the deal in the second round and bring those recruits home!

Also, be mindful of the fact that you have a finite number of scholarships. You really must focus on the things you need on the Team Overview screen. You'll also want to bring up your lowest rankings by aggressively pursuing good athletes in those categories. Anything at C- level or below should be considered an immediate priority.

In the rounds after one, keep working on Prospects that you have already wooed but who haven't signed. You'll note that a lot of their Interest Levels will have risen if you've paid close attention to them. Make sure you keep the pressure on if you want them to sign. If a player's Interest remains flat, try a different approach during the Pitch. If Location doesn't work, use Playing Time or Coaching Style. Mix it up and see what happens.

If you ever run out of scholarships, that's when you should head back to the map and go to the next week. You can only offer the number of scholarships that are left after each week, so if you recruit a player, that scholarship will be gone. As you move along, the weeks will go faster and faster. After the final week, it's on to the next bit of business. Once you finalize the recruits, the CPU will add walk-ons for every team.

Step 4: Position Changes
This is another new element in this year's game. It happens a lot in college football, where corners may become receivers, and tight ends might be better served as linebackers. Why would you switch a player? Usually because you're already loaded up in one position and lacking in another. By moving players around, you don't have to re-recruit for positions you may be lacking in.

Select a player, and a pop-up window will appear showing current position and the new position. Scan through the new positions and check out the Ovr rating that appears. You'll want it to be about the same (or better, which is rare) than the player's original position.

Step 5: Training Results
All that Training does is show how your players' attributes changed. A player might have a Breakthrough year and improve a lot, or show Minimal gain. This section is basically designed to show you who your future stars may be. Press Start to continue to the next step.

Step 6: Cut Players
Time to get rid of some dead weight. Or not. If you don't want you, you don't really need to cut anybody. You can just let the CPU do it. But if you have a ton of players at one position, you may want to set some guys free. The roster needs to be at 55 or less, so if you want to manage the cuts, go for it. Otherwise, the computer will simply cut all the lowest rated players at the most full positions.

Remember when cutting that you can redshirt guys before the season begins. So if you think a guy near the bottom is going to blossom down the road, slap a redshirt on him and see if you're right.

Step 7: Set Depth Chart
The CPU will automatically put the top-rated player in the first place of each position. However, if you value speed over rating (for instance at the HB position), you'll want to take matters into your own hands. It's not imperative that you do any reordering here, though, as setting the depth chart is available from your Season menu as well.

When you are done with setting the Depth Chart, press Start, and the rest of the process will be automated, and you'll be sent to the next season. Play through, or sim it and get right back to building your Dynasty.. it's all up to you!

Step 8: Start New Season
Just like it sounds.

Submitted on: Jul 28, 2004 by Brad Dunn and Robert Fetter

OVERVIEW
The release of “NCAA 2005” by EA Sports marks the commencement of the 2004 football gaming season. In recent years, this game has been so good and market dominant, all of its competition has conceded defeat. Will the lack of competition turn to apathy for this series or will the game continue to move forward?

FEATURES
“NCAA 2005” offers many modes of play for even the average college football fan. When you first launch “NCAA 2005” it asks you for your favorite team. By default, when you enter the first game play mode (quick game); it chooses this team and your rival. Quick game is nothing more than an exhibition game of college football. In this mode, you can choose any team you want and whatever stadium you wish to play in. You also have the option to choose from a number of alternate uniforms (for teams that have them).

The next gameplay mode is Dynasty Mode. This is the meat and potatoes of “NCAA 2005.” This mode consists of taking a college football program and guiding them through season after season. Dynasty Mode will be discussed in detail later on in the review.

Practice Mode is a game mode that I all but ignored in past versions of NCAA. In previous years, gameplay was easy and could be learned in a matter of a couple of games. After that, you could “own” the Artificial Intelligence and basically do what you wanted to do with a good team. This year, the game play is so different and more difficult than in years past, I find myself entering Practice Mode almost as much as Dynasty Mode. In Practice Mode you can run random plays with random defenses or you can just go offense only. The game play in Practice Mode on the Xbox seems significantly faster than the other modes of play. Practice Mode feels like hyper drive, its just too darn fast. The reason for this might be due to the sidelines lacking any 2D or 3D models.

AUDIO
One of the things that makes college football so great is the school bands. Just hearing a few notes of your favorite team’s fight song can spark feelings of team loyalty and pride. “NCAA 2005” has a lot of fight songs that sound darn good. However, some schools are missing some of their fight songs due to licensing issues.

The stadium atmosphere does not end with the school band. This year the fans are louder than ever when and where they should be. Places like Death Valley and The Swamp get very loud for road teams trying to advance the ball. On offense the crowd will quiet down which is typical for a college football game.

The crowd noises in “NCAA 2005” tie into gameplay this year. Electronic Arts Tiburon managed to merge player ratings with the level of crowd intensity. This year, if a crowd is super loud and rowdy, a player on defense (home) might gain a few rating points. Likewise, the offensive players might start to struggle. If this happens, the noise will continue and player ratings can continue to be effected until they make a play or two. If a player’s dynamic rating drops, expect him to miss assignments, drop balls or get smoked for a bomb. Home Field Advantage really adds to the sound and atmosphere of “NCAA 2005.”

The hitting sounds in “NCAA 2005” are not great but they are not bad either. They are on the level of being good enough for you to not notice them being bad.

The only downside to the sound in “NCAA 2005” is an infrequent, annoying squeal. I have my Xbox hooked up to my stereo through digital optical. On occasion, it would seem like the audio would pause, the speakers would then emit a muffled yet annoying sound. I do have a Thompson drive in my Xbox so this could be one of the problems. Nonetheless, it does not happen often or for long.

GRAPHICS
The user interface system in “NCAA 2005” is very similar to “Madden 2004.” The pop-up menus seem to be blocky and clunky. However, navigation in general is the same as last year’s game. Finding what you need is not hard and the overall unattractive user interface does not detract from the quality of the game.

The in-game graphics seem to be slightly improved in “NCAA 2005”. The fans look like the fans of your typical football game. They are just 2D images sitting in the stadium. However, this year the Xbox version includes some real 3D characters on the sideline. These characters are nicely done from their 3D frames to their skins.

I am not a huge fan of “details” when it comes to visuals. I would much rather have a great football game than a good game with tons of pretty graphical “perks.” However, it was very cool when I was playing the game for the first time and I noticed the football said “Nike 3005” in gold leaf.

There are also some nice touches this year to the uniforms in “NCAA 2005.” When you are playing outside this year, the uniforms will progressively get dirty. This means, when you start a game your uniform will be clean. As the game progresses, your shirt and pants will get dirtier and dirtier. This is a very nice graphical touch. My only complaint is with the way this is implemented. If you pay close attention between plays, you can actually see the skin change sometimes as the game progresses.

Field textures also seem to be redone this year. The grass seems to be brighter and more detailed. As the game wears on, the field in between the hashes becomes dull and brown. This obviously is showing the wear and tear done during the game. It is very nice to look at from a far camera angle. It actually looks real.

PRESENTATION
The NCAA series arguably has the best presentation and commentary of the big three. Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstriet and Brad Nessler are back for another year of football gaming action. Over the past couple of years, they have not added a ton of new commentary but they have built on what was already there. This has lead to a nice variety of game play commentary. It is not possible to say if something in the commentary department has been removed, as I might just not have heard it yet. However, its obvious what is new since I am sure I heard everything last year ten times over. My favorite new “Corsosism” in the game is, “beep beep beep,” after you make a penalty. Lee Corso then admits this is the sound of the offense going backwards.

Another addition in the presentation department is the signing of corporate sponsor Pontiac. Pontiac now sponsors the drive summary made after a score. The logo around the drive summary box is well placed and noninvasive. The way it is used adds to the realism of the game as it makes it seem like you are watching the game on your television rather than playing it on your console.

The Pontiac sponsorship is not the only sponsor this year. The Old Spice Red Zone is back for another year. I can’t tell any difference in how this is done over last year. It is still nice and again adds to the realism of the presentation.

My only problem with these sponsors is it seems as the game makes us watch them for a second or two. A few times I have pounded my controller trying to get the game to fast forward to the play call screen so I could select my kickoff formation. Again, I have no problem with the sponsors in general and they are done quite well. I just don’t like having to wait to continue playing the game I paid for so the sponsors can get their airtime.

“NCAA 2005” does sport some new celebrations. The new celebrations range from mild to excessive and can involve players, fans or your mascot. One of my favorite new celebrations is a fight scene where two players get into a shoving match until walking away. The celebrations can be random (for some of them) or manually instigated by the user hitting a trigger and a button. One trigger calls for a mild celebration while the other calls for a more excessive celebration. The excessive celebrations seem to randomly draw the attention of the officials and a fifteen-yard unsportsmanlike like conduct penalty.

This year many fans have had their wishes answered by EA Tiburon. Finally, after a big win or a big comeback, the players douse their coach with the Gatorade bucket. This is not overly done or brilliantly done. However, it does add to the realism and overall quality of presentation.

GAMEPLAY
The first thing you realize when you play “NCAA 2005” for the first time is that it plays nothing like the 2004 version. The running game has been tweaked and the passing game seems to be completely redone.

In the previous version of NCAA Football the only thing you could count on when running a counter play was a loss of yardage. This is no longer true. In fact, I have found the counter plays to be some of the most effective running plays in this year’s version. On sweeps and traps the guards and tackles seem to pull properly which opens up the outside running game.

Running up the middle has been tweaked slightly but nothing major. You can still run up the middle but not every time. I am enjoying the running game a lot this year as I have in the previous versions. The major problem I still see in the running game is famously known as “Mario” running. This is when the running back attempts to run forward but his offensive line is in the way. His legs continue to churn but he does not go anywhere. Although EA did not fix this worst part of the running game from 2002, 2003 and 2004, the running game is still good in 2005.

The part of the gameplay that has seen the most improvements is the passing game. In last year’s version, you could pick who you wanted to throw the ball to before the snap and he would make the catch more times than not if he was good enough. That is gone this year. No longer can you walk to the line and decide who is getting the ball before the snap. You can make some presnap fine reads and see what looks good and what looks bad. For example if your number one receiver has a corner on top of him and you see the safety creeping up, it is highly likely you will have single coverage on your best receiver. These are things that can’t be overlooked if you want to be successful in 2005.

Timing and touch are also very important when throwing the ball in “NCAA 2005.” During my early game play on All American with default sliders, my guys would routinely drop passes when they were wide open. I found this to be extremely annoying as I was not playing well and my completion percentage was hovering around the 25% mark. I then took a break from playing the game and went into Practice Mode.

After practicing for a few hours total, I started playing again and my completion percentage went up at least 20% almost instantly. The wide-open drops all but disappeared, however they still occur on occasion. Likewise, my passing numbers and productivity went up drastically. Now, I am finding when I don’t complete a pass more likely than not it is my fault; I made a bad read or hit the wrong button.

Home Field Advantage and composure also plays a big factor in ratings and game play this year. You do not want a freshman quarterback to travel to The Swamp and start. You would much rather have seasoned veterans. Younger players are more likely to get rattled and have their ratings plummet.

Other things also cause a player to become rattled. This year if your quarterback or wide receiver is taking hard licks, they will lose some composure. A quarterback might lose some accuracy and awareness points while your wide receiver will suddenly get alligator arms. It is very rewarding this year to protect your passer and hit some underneath routes early and often to ensure your players stay composed.

The composure also carries over to the defensive side of the ball. If you have a freshman cornerback going against an All American receiver, you will get burned without some safety help. Once this happens, your defensive player will lose rating points just like the offensive players.

When playing the computer, straight out of the box the computer seems to have some trouble moving the ball. A good player can strafe, break blocks and get into position to shutdown almost any running play. However, after adjusting the sliders in favor of the computer running game, I have found the game to be more difficult and realistic. After doing this, I gave up my first 100-yard game to Michigan in the Outback Bowl. It was painful but nice to see the play calling and success of the running game for the computer.

Ncaa Football 2005 Ps2

Computer passing on the other hand is a problem I have not yet solved. The AI passing numbers seem to be very low (9 for 28). I have given the computer some advantage with sliders but they are still suffering from batted balls, drops and just plain bad throws.

Unlike years past, teams seem to have play calling that match their style. For example, Georgia Southern ran the ball 36 times against me in a 28 minute game while only throwing 12 times. This is much improved over the pass happy teams of previous years. I have run into pass heavy teams like Clemson and balanced teams like Tennessee. Their entire play calling seems to match their real life tendencies. It is nice the computer also knows when to fold. Numerous times it was obvious the computer had given up and was just trying to run the clock out to keep things respectable. This is how Tiburon is trying to keep things close without the robo-qb (yes Mr. Robo QB is gone).

Ncaa Football 2005 Pride Stickers Formula

Special teams have been revamped in 2005 as well. I have played quite a few games and I have not come close to returning a punt or a kickoff for a score. It seems as if the kicking special teams AI this year “stays home” better than in years past. Hard cutbacks do not work as well either.

The kicking game is no cakewalk in 2005 either. I have missed 3 extra points already with my kicker rated a 48. Add this to the composure effects of 2005 and a potential game winning 30-yard field goal is no longer automatic.

Football

ONLINE
“NCAA 2005” is the first Electronic Arts game to be on Xbox Live. Out of the gate, there were tons of problems. Users could not connect, they were getting dropped and their friends list would not work. It took EA about five days to get past the launch crunch and get their server load up to par. Over the past few days, I have not had any connectivity problems.

One would think the game play on Xbox live would be considerable better than the out the box Playstation II network game play. However, this is not the case. The actual network for Xbox live is fine, as I have only been dropped one time and I have not seen any lag. The problem with the online play on the Xbox is the game speed. At times the game seems to literally crawl. It appears this is a graphical, CPU horsepower issue and not a network issue as the overall game play is slow online as well. This being said, the game is still a lot of fun online.

EA Online offers a few methods of online play including, tournaments, even teams and a custom game where you can invite a friend or a random guy in a lobby room. Even teams is where you can pick any team you want and it will be closely matched to the team the other guy picks. This is so you can be your favorite team and still have a fair game no matter whom you are playing.

One of the coolest new features about online games is the statistics sent by email. After a game this year you can have the option to have the stats from the game sent to your email account. The stats that are included in the email are general team stats like passing attempts. Individual stats are not included in the email but it is still a very nice feature.

I have not tried the online tournament feature so I can’t comment on how this is or how it works.

DYNASTY MODE
Dynasty Mode is the heart and soul of the NCAA Football series. This is where you can lead your team from a .500 season all the way to a national title.

I would argue that the most pure love of a sports fan is their love for their college team. Sure people are passionate about their favorite NFL or NBA team, but the college level, in this case football, just seems more pure. You don’t love a player…you love a team. The names change on the back of the uniform, but the front stays the same. That’s the beauty of college football. And when you build a Dynasty, like they have in Oklahoma, Michigan, Texas and Notre Dame, you’re reminded of everything that is great about college football.

Ncaa Football 2005 Xbox

This year’s Dynasty Mode in “NCAA 2005” brings you even closer to real drama that is played out every fall on campuses across the country. The gameplay, the Home Field Advantage and all the other things that make a great title are in there.

Whether you start with a powerhouse like Michigan, a mid-major like Memphis, or an upstart program like Florida International, you are the man in charge of everything that is right and wrong in your program. Open your first season by Red-Shirting those youngsters that aren’t quite ready to see the field. Then customize your schedule to your liking. Add a cupcake or plan an early season visit to “The Swamp.” Pick your poison. Conference schedules are locked and can’t be edited and, unlike previous versions, conference schedules now rotate in future years of the Dynasty.

Once you’re into the season, be sure to pick up your weekly issue of Sports Illustrated. That’s right, SI is back for year two. While it is mostly the same as last year, a couple nice additions have been added to the pre-season issue including “Toughest Places to Play” and “All Americans By Conference.” I’m not a sucker for the eye candy, but this feature never gets old for me. Making the cover of SI, even in a loss, is a treat that just adds to the replay value.

Probably the most talked about addition to Dynasty Mode takes place during the season. And, while I am shocked that the NCAA allowed it into the game, you are now in charge of the discipline and overall program prestige that you are building. If players start skipping practices or shirk their academic responsibilities, you’re going to here about it. Using what the game calls Discipline Action Points, you have to decide whether to suspend your player or simply let it slide. Suspensions range anywhere from one quarter to an entire season! It may seem like fluff, but be careful, overlook that star CB’s constant class cutting and the NCAA may penalize you. If it’s in the game, right?

After your season comes to a close and you’ve hopefully laid a resounding smack down on your New Year’s Day Bowl opponent, there is no time for a vacation, coach. While the recruiting process stays basically the same from 2004, there are a few very notable additions. First, the team at EA has added Transfers. If that Blue Chip Freshman QB of yours is sick of riding the bench, he may pack it up and move on to greener pastures somewhere else. The beauty of this addition, besides the added realism of the goings on of the NCAA, the AI is actually correct and it forces transfers to sit out one season before they can play for their new team.

The major improvement that I see in recruiting is the reduced number of blue chippers out there. I ran a few simulated seasons and the most Blue Chips I saw in any given off-season were 56. That is far more realistic than we have seen in years past. It’s still a little high, but it’s progress. If I had one complaint, it is still a little too easy to recruit great athletes to small schools after just one good season.

I received my copy of “NCAA 2005” on a Tuesday. That Monday I was still playing a Dynasty on NCAA 2004. My coaching career had taken me from Eastern Michigan to BYU to Arizona State to Colorado to the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. This mode is unsurpassed in replay factor among any (yes I said ANY) other console sports title on the market. And the best got better this year.

BOTTOM LINE
If you have enjoyed this game in the past, its highly unlikely your feeling for this iteration will be any different. EA Tiburon has added depth to the series with the addition of Home Field Advantage, composure and Xbox Live. Despite a few pit falls, “NCAA 2005” is a solid rendition of college football.

SECOND OPINION

A quick take from Staff Writer Robert Fetter

If it wasn’t the best game on the market in 2004, NCAA has proven with its previous attempts that it’s only amateur in name and that it could compete with any of the other college or pro football games on the market. This year, EA set their sites on making some big improvements to the college game and finally gives Xbox gamers a chance to compete head to head online against one another.

Unfortunately I’ll start off with what seems to be the only downside to this game over years past. This year the speed of gameplay has taken a turn for the worse; it’s not quite as fast as the 2004 addition. The slowdown is annoying at first, but it’s not bothersome enough that you shouldn’t be able to get over it after a few games.

On a brighter note EA has stepped up the running game for ‘05. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but this year your HBs are better able to squeeze through the holes that you can now see the offensive line create, where as in past years you’d, at times, get stuck behind your massive line with no place to go. The toss plays to the outside also seem much better, they’re not all guaranteed positive yardage, but you will be able to pick up yardage and possibly even be able to break a few for long runs with a couple of key moves. In “NCAA 2005” you’ll also get a much larger dose of momentum, you’ll no longer be able to cut back and forth on a dime in order to confuse and break away from defenders.

The running game is not the only thing that has been improved for this year; NCAA has dramatically improved the D. The AI coverage is much smarter and while you still can find a couple of “money plays” the AI will learn to take them away if you keep going back to them, at least if you’re playing on the more difficult levels. The AI is also much smarter on special teams, as you’ll find the number of kick returns for TDs that are given up by your opponents is greatly reduced. One of the best improvements to the defense are the tackling animations. In the past you’d see a few different animations but this year it seems like you’re seeing a different tackle every time, a few of them may actually make you cringe when your stars get hit. This is the first year in the series that you’ve been given you the opportunity to make a “big hit” by using the white button when attempting to make a tackle, white button or no white button you’ll get your share of big hits in the ‘05 edition.

On offense WRs will frustrate you at times by dropping balls that should easily be caught. The key to passing is making sure you have your QB put the perfect touch on the ball. Once you get use to adding the right amount of touch to your pass you’ll start to see a lot less drops. There will still be that occasional perfect pass on 3rd and 10 that makes you want to toss your controller through the TV, because your top rated receiver has had his hands magically transformed to stone, but that’s football for you.

Ncaa Football 2005 Player Ratings

It’s not only the offense that has trouble hanging onto the ball at times. Last year one thing I loved about the game is that if a DB got their hands on the ball then you could count on it being a turnover. This year you’ll still see a fair amount of interceptions, but they have been toned down a bit, probably a change for the better in most people’s opinion but personally I can never get enough INTs. Luckily for me the people at EA were kind enough to give gamers sliders to play with so that the game can be adjusted to suit everyone’s preferences for catching the ball on both offense and defense. This year you’ll also see the defenders bat the ball into the air giving everyone a chance to pull it down, in an attempt to get that tipped interception.

The Dynasty mode for the year has been revamped to make recruiting more difficult. Now when recruiting people you are able to decide if you want to use one to fifteen recruiting points towards each instate recruit and out of state recruits will cost more depending on their region. You’ll also be forced to choose how much of your budget you want to spend on recruiting, training, and discipline. With the new system you’ll have to use your recruiting points wisely because it will now be easier to attempt to squander all of them on a particular couple of high rated recruits. This new system makes it more difficult for the smaller schools to have a top rated recruit class, as in ’04 it seemed that my San Diego State Aztecs would have the number one recruiting class almost every year. Now in my best years I’ll be sitting at around thirty and possibly one to two blue chip recruits at most versus the two to three that I was able to bring home every off-season in last year’s game.

Home field advantage finally allows gamers to feel the pressure of playing in front of a hostile crowd. This is one of the more creative ideas that went into the ’05 edition of NCAA. When playing away you’ll have the disadvantage of needing more time to call audible and hot routes because your receivers will be unable to hear you in unfriendly crowd environments due to the noise of the crowd. The hostile crowd will also cause your offensive line to false start more, and force you to play through a shaking screen and vibrating controller. From watching college football you know that not all crowds are alike and the people at EA have taken that into account. If you’re playing at Connecticut the crowd will not be nearly as loud as if you’re going into Miami. Also the crowd will be louder depending on what type of game it is, when two top ranked teams play one another the crowd is more likely to get amped up for the event. When rivals like Michigan and Ohio State play you know you’re going see a rowdy crowd. The crowd is pretty intelligent cheering louder on important third down situations, or in goal line situations. You’ll even see the crowd booing or cheering decisions to go for it on fourth and long or short depending on their thoughts of your decision. However it is always odd when you’re calling your play listening to the crowd chant “Go Go Go Go”, then coming out to the line to go for it on fourth and one only to be greeted at the line by a booing crowd.

There hasn’t been much of an improvement to this year’s player models or the look of the game on the field. The major visual improvements this year have come in the form of additions to the overall presentation of the game. Now after big plays you’ll get cut scenes focusing on the fans reactions to the plays. I’ve been amazed that at this point I’m not yet sick of the fan cut scenes since it seems that in many games most improvements similar to this are good for about two games, then I’m quick to skip through it. There is just enough variance of the signs to continue to keep things somewhat interesting. What really keeps the fans fresh is that in each stadium the fans will have their own somewhat unique look. At least since you’re not playing every game at home you’ll get to go on the road and see fans in different colors and with slightly different gear to match. You’ll also have the opportunity to create your own signs. You’re able to create multiple signs to be shown at different points of the game, for instance you can have one sign for fans to show when you make a big stop and another one for a key first down.

At this point the only thing about the fans that I can come up with to complain about is that, occasionally you’ll see a fan that has face paint on in the shape of a bull’s-eye, no self respecting fan of a team would ever wear this face paint, with the only reasonable excuse being too much tailgating for him.

Another subtle improvement but this year the replays have been slightly improved. I’ve enjoyed some replays of INTs where they’ll show the play from a camera view behind the QB then they’ll show you the play from a different angle showing you the DB’s angle on the play. This is a very tiny detail, but once games get this good it’s the small details that can help clean up rough edges to improve the game.

With 989’s canceling of the 'GameBreaker' series for the year, and still no word of any future plans of a Sega College game we’re only given “NCAA 2005” to fill our college football needs this season. It just happens to work out well since it’s hard to imagine anyone doing a better job of developing a full college football experience than what EA has done. Sure if you look hard enough you’re going find a couple of problems with the game here or there, but despite a couple of minor flaws “NCAA 2005” should be right there in the mix competing with the other games on the market for the ever so coveted “Stevie” for this year’s best football game or possibly even Game of the Year.

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out of 10