NCAA Football 2004 (PS2) First Impressions
By Tim Martin -- Staff Writer/Reviews Editor
Published 7/15/2003

2 Quicktime Movies

PS2 Screens(6)

Xbox Screens(4)

GC Screens(4)

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Inserting the game into PS2 and then... I was disappointed to see the intro movie to the game is real footage like Madden as opposed to a neat collection of highlights from the actual video game. I liked the pump-up music and Brad Nessler giving a proper intro to the game. In my first play, Mike Doss, the former Ohio State All-American gave his props to NCAA.

After the intro scene you have to decide what your favorite team is. I, of course, chose Florida State. Next up is my first game: Florida State versus Florida in Doak.

The First Game...
It's tough to say how much and if the game has made of the quantum leap that has been so hyped. I think many of the game's changes will be seen the 30th or 40th game. But after the first game, I can say what everyone has been saying so far: the Rollout Camera is fantastic. I was able to see a few diagonal passing lanes I wouldn't have dreamed about last year.

Chris Rix was deadly on Varsity. He at one point nailed eight straight passes before Greg Jones dropped a four-foot pass. The interior passing seems to be a little better than last year. It seems like the quarterback will fit the ball into a passing lane instead of always giving the receiver a pass they will have to run under. I was able to get a few post route passes this way.

The running game seems about the same. The game does have a few new animations, as boasted in our interview and others, both running and tackling. I was still able to have huge success running the HB Counter play, but the draws were also pretty good. Jones had about 80 yards on the game. I can't say the holes opened up anymore or less than last year. It's still too early to tell.

I noticed a few slowdowns in the cut scenes and even during a few gameplay instances. Hopefully this doesn't happen too often, like in High Heat Baseball.

The biggest change so far, is the special teams play. EA really makes special teams play...special. I have a feeling my days sending back a punt blocker early to act as my lone wedge blocker are gone. I think. I was able to bust some seriously long punt returns and kick returns with an awesome looking wedge. There's different punt return plays instead of just the one generic PUNT RETURN. Same goes for punting...there's a tight and spread punt formation.

The announcing is about the same...from what I've heard. Nessler's mid-play commentary is pretty decent, but it's still nothing when compared to watching a real game. Is it an added element? Yes, but it's a little weird to hear Nessler go from mellow to really excited saying "There's an opening!" then go back to a laid-back, "he gains 7 yards on the play." Maybe this will grow on me.

I was only playing on Varsity, so...we'll see how things progress. I won the game easily 49-7. I should have bumped up another level at least, but I wanted to check out all the new features.

Northern Illinois HB wins Heisman...
Huh? What? He, who did what?

I went through and simmed a season and HB #32 from Northern Illinois won the Heisman. Although I know this player (can't think of his name) is a great player and I believe is the top returning rusher in the nation, him winning it is sort of weird. And so too is the 2nd, 4th, and 5th place finishers - ALL WASHINGTON Huskies players. WR #1, WR #10 and QB #3, who I know number one is Reggie Williams and the QB is Pickett, but this is obnoxious. Maybe one of the two, but not both and some guy I don't even know. The last guy in the Heisman is the running back from Kansas State.


At least some awards have names like Maxwell, Bednarik, Groza and Thorpe.

As simming for the Noles, FSU went 7-6 with a loss to Florida, 48-46. Ouch! We're playing in the Gator Bowl against Notre Dame. No. 1 Washington and No. 3 Texas are playing for the National Championship. Shall I say controversy? Yep. Because No. 2 is Miami. It's cool though because the Sports Illustrated covers both point this out. Very nice. I just hope that stuff like this doesn't happen all too often so the covers can correspond. Texas ends up winning the national championship. One other cool thing to note is that school AND national records are not denoted with special pop-up screens.

Off to the Off-Season
You can convince underclassmen to stay. They have a leave/stay gauge. I let Xavier Beitia go. I only took a quick peak at recruiting before simming it, but arm strength and accuracy is a grade, not pinpoint or canon. Nice touch.

The fastest scrambling QB I saw was only in the 4.5s. That's not good. The elite scrambling QB only ran a 4.6. That's disappointing.

Related Link: Madden Mania