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NCAA Football 2004 - PS2, Xbox, GameCube

NCAA 2004 May Be Your New Favorite Football Game

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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What isn't there to like about NCAA 2004. It was an awesome football sim, they've expanded the list of schools, songs, and mascots, taken it online (PS2 only...grrr) and added a slew of new features, and unlockables. This is more than a 'minor update' this is a must have football game.
Let me be upfront and honest with y'all... I'm not the biggest college football fan. GASP! I know, my buddies all swear it's better than the NFL, the rivalries, the pageantry, the yadda yadda yadaa. I just like pro football better. Maybe it's the lack of a superbowl, or perhaps the fact that players play for four years, tops. Anyway, with that out in the open, I can honestly say I am shocked at how much I liked NCAA 2004. Heck, it may even turn me into a Saturday football fan... maybe.

Let's cut straight to it: It's a fun game to play. If you like football sims, and you liked Madden you'll love NCAA Football 2004. Yes it sorta looks like Madden, yes it kinda plays like Madden, so what keeps this game from being Madden Jr.? Extras, extras, extras.

The scope of the game is mind blowing. There are more teams than colleges I've ever heard of. To top it off, this year they've added 165 new teams, and over 100 new classic teams complete with throwback uniforms and those suicidal leather helmets. Can't find your alma matter (what kind of funky school did you go to?) then just create it.

Choose a division, design uniforms, pick a mascot and a fight song and before you know it Green River Community College is trouncing USC in the Rose Bowl. The stadiums, the pageantry my buddies love so much, it's all here, and I must admit I found myself getting swept up in the moment when my Northwest College Eagles were on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Sniff, it like a dream come true.

Of course the biggest changes this year have to be online play and the EA sports bio. OK, it has to be said by someone, somewhere... EA what the stink are you doing!!! Yes, I appreciate being able to play online with my PS2, but come on, no Xbox Live support? Is this a joke? What does Sony have pictures of y'all in 'compromising situations' at a launch party or what? Get in the game folks, Xbox is a huge sports market and it's just plain silly not to offer Xbox Live Support. OK, I'll put away the soapbox now, and save it for when John Romero decides to release another game. Yes, like all new EA sports titles it does support the PS2 network adaptor, and you can now use that Socom USB headset to trash talk your opponents, the Lower Alabama Mudhawgs, while you play. Perhaps even more interesting is the addition of the EA Sports Bio.

The Bio will track how long, and how well you've played EA Sports games, supposedly all of the new ones. Then, after you rack up a certain amount of hours or achieved certain accomplishments it will unlock items, and secrets in all of your EA Sports games. So let's say you've been playing NCAA 2004, then you pop in that brand new copy off Madden...BOOM you may just start off with a slew of Madden Cards or other unlockables ready to go. Think of it as the EA frequent flyer card, they reward customer loyalty with extra unlockables. Not that they need they loyalty, as they already dominate the video game sports market, but it is a nice touch.

New additions and gimmicks aside NCAA Football 2004 is a solid game. Good graphics (Xbox version does look best, especially if you have HDTV), good sound, great controls and gameplay, and heaps of extra goodies and unlockables. All in all a very worthy purchase, and quite a fun game. Heck, after pounding away at NCAA Football 2004 I may just have to check out a few more games this year.

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