NCAA Football 07 Review
If you love college football then chances are you’ll love NCAA Football 07. The game is more than “Madden with more teams” and puts a lot of effort into recreating the energy and atmosphere that is such a part of college football. The very first time that you start the game you’ll be asked to pick a favorite team and from there onward you’ll be treated to your school of choice’s fight songs and images of the team in action on every menu screen in the game. This helps get you in the mood, but it’s after you walk through the tunnel and take the field that the game really does its best to bring the collegiate experience home.
Every stadium for every school has been carefully recreated in the game, and not just the layout of the stands. The bands are where they’re supposed to be, the visitors’ sections are in the right places, all stadium features and landmarks are there, and even the views out over the top of the stands have been recreated. Fans wear the home team’s colors and in the visitors’ section fans wear their own colors, and when their team does well fans stand up and cheer and when they don’t they sit down shaking their heads. There is such a feeling of satisfaction that comes with scoring a big touchdown in a rival’s stadium and watching your fan section erupt in the middle of a hushed and stunned home crowd. Of course it can be pretty intimidating to be down by a couple of scores on the road as the crowd chants in unison while doing the Tomahawk Chop.
NCAA Football 07 carries the atmosphere onto the gridiron itself with the franchise’s new Momentum Meter. Put a few good plays together and the momentum will swing to your side, the crowd will get fired up (or shut down), and close plays will start to seem to go your way. Or you could find yourself on the short end of the Momentum Meter, trying desperately to claw your way back into things. The Momentum Meter is a pretty cool idea and a good inclusion into the game except for one minor issue: it doesn’t seem to work. Sometimes the meter will swing all the way to one side early on and it will be darn near impossible for the other team to pull it the other way for the rest of the game. At other times its actions just don’t make sense – I once scored on a long touchdown play and then followed that up by intercepting the other team’s next pass and taking it in for the score … back to back touchdowns and an eleven point lead and the meter did not budge one iota in my direction. I felt like I was playing for Rodney Dangerfield U.
The gameplay itself is excellent, although I’d swear the computer tends to cheat when it faces third and long. If you’ve played EA football games recently you’ll find a couple of changes to the controls. First of all the kicking control has been completely changed. You aim the kick as before, but when kicking you now pull back on the right stick to start the power meter and then move the stick forward when the meter’s maxed. If you move the stick to the right or left as you move it forward you’ll cause the kick to go to the right or left, respectively. I found the new control to make the kicking game easier than before, especially for long field goals. Aiming is still iffy enough (especially when you’re right on a hash mark) to keep field goals from being automatic.
The second change is a new “jump the snap” button. Pressing Y before the ball is snapped will cause your defensive lineman to surge forward. Push the button too soon and you’ll be offside, but time it right and you’ll be in the backfield before the offense can get their play going. Adding to the challenge of timing the jump right is that fake snaps will cause the camera to pull back as it does for an actual snap. If this is what you’re looking for as your cue, you’ll let the other team march right to your end zone five yards at a time.