Every year at about this time we end up with another slate of sports titles. NCAA Football 2007's time has come yet again, and is it the football game we've all dreamed of, or is it not worth the time of day? The answer to that question depends on what system you own.
Technically, this NCAA is one of the best yet. The momentum system has been revamped to be a bit more fair and less dominating. Instead of rapidly pressing a button to try and hype up the crowd, your momentum depends on your performance, just like in real life. Big plays, killer sacks, and touchdowns will tilt the odds in your favor. High momentum results better playing by your team and more mistakes by the other team. There's nothing quite like having the defense leap across the line early because they're bugged out over your lengthy lead.
The defense has been upgraded and revamped, too. The incredible and impossibly long passes that everyone hates are now much harder to pull off. Defensive coverage is tighter, though still quite customizable. A new addition is the "Jump Snap" button. With proper timing, it'll let you leap across the line of scrimmage just in time to dodge a block and make the sack.
The graphics and animation haven't been completely overhauled, but there are a few new additions. Player interaction has been given a shot in the arm, so tackles and blocks look much better. Big hits will give you a slow-motion look at the slaughter, and post-play actions range from players leaping over fallen players to celebrations. As usual, the graphics are good on the Xbox and PS2. That's really all you can say. The game isn't exactly breaking down new barriers for graphics, but they are quite realistic. This is especially true on the Xbox 360 version of the game. The texturing and modeling are all top notch and look excellent in HD. It's easy to confuse a game of NCAA with an actual broadcast if you aren't paying attention.
The big draw this year, at least for Xbox and PS2 players, is Campus Legend mode. Take the Heisman mode from last year and add even more details. Now you have to manage school as well as your football career. Passing exams, managing your social life, and controlling your academic future all come into play in Campus Legend. It's an odd mix, and one I wasn't particularly fond of when I first got into it, but it grows on you. It's a nice and new level of depth that's very welcome in a genre that could easily go stagnant.
There's one problem with Campus Legend mode. It isn't present in what should be the pinnacle of college football gaming: the Xbox 360 version. The 360 version costs ten dollars more and lacks Campus Legend mode and the Division I-AA teams. Both of these are puzzling and crippling omissions. I'll admit that I'm not exactly privy to EA's development teams, but I'm pretty sure that most multi-platform games follow parallel development paths. The omission of both, and the introduction of generic I-AA regional teams, makes NCAA Football 2007 on the 360 feel rushed and incomplete. Sure, the graphics are nice, but where's the meat? Where's the rest of the game?
The current and next gen versions of NCAA Footbal 2007 are, in general, quite well done. The football itself is very fun and better than ever. The two versions split when you compare the feature set. The Xbox and PS2 games come out on top when compared to the Xbox 360 version. The 360 game went with style over substance, and that was a poor choice. Franchise mode is lovely, but we've had that for years. You have to keep delivering new modes and gimmicks to keep the series fresh, and when you strip all of that out of what should've been the superior version of the game, you've made a huge mistake. That makes your 2007 football game feel like a prettier and more balanced version of a 2001 football game.
This presents an interesting dilemma. You have a choice of either settling for a less attractive game on an older system, or paying more for a title that's lacking in features, but has awesome graphics. This bizarre move by EA marred what would've been a perfectly good entry in the series. Hopefully they'll give us a complete experience across the board next year, rather than holding things back.