School pride is an indescribable feeling. Four years of rivalries, upsets, cheering, screaming, drinking… and some learning in between there somewhere. But, as a gamer, nothing is quite like playing inside of that stadium where you consistently had your team’s back.
NCAA Basketball 10 is EA Canada’s latest college hoops title. For two years now it has stood uncontested in the college basketball market. Despite that fact, EA has taken this as a challenge to vastly improve a title that was in dire need of reinventions in gameplay and presentation.
In collaboration with its NBA counterpart (NBA Live 10), NCAA Basketball 10 has taken those things that you love from NBA Live 10, as it tries to redeem itself after a disappointing ’09. The additions this year, including new play calling, one button to shoot and dunk, and improved broadcasting, provide a much more fluid, realistic collegiate experience. However, the core mechanics and AI may have been too influenced by its big brother as some of the pitfalls now exist in both titles.
While the AI was improved in the motion offense, ball handling logic, and ball player logic, there are a few glaring issues with the AI that will leave a sour taste in your mouth. Ball movement between AI players is questionable at times as unexplainable back court violations and out of bounds passes occur at least a couple times a game.
Despite this, gamers will be happy to hear that the improvements to the gameplay mechanics and AI greatly overshadow these intermittent AI issues. Motion offense is one of the driving forces behind the fast paced game that is college basketball. Whether tapping the left bumper button to initiate motion movement, or holding it down to bring up offensive schemes, the seamless control of the motion offense is a fantastic addition to provide full control of the offense while still maintaining the pace and tempo.
Freestyle passing and direct pass receiver control are other features that provides that extra touch of control. While holding the left trigger, you are able to either use the right analog stick to throw a pass in any direction you would like, even while moving. Alternatively, also while holding the left trigger, you can select a player on the court and control them with the left analog stick, which will allow even more control to open up a key player for a shot, a driving lane, or an advantage at the post.
Between these gameplay improvements, NCAA Basketball 10 provides the player with an enormous amount of options to open up passing lanes, create picks, overload one side of the court, and much more. For any sports gamer, this is one of the most important aspects of a sports game; staying true to the sport and its mechanics, while still making it a challenging, rewarding, and fun experience.
It is quite evident that gameplay mechanics were the major focus of this new installment, as the gameplay modes are still lacking greatly. In fact, Online Mode is what is to be expected, but nothing stellar. Matchmaking contains your usual ranked and unranked games, while rivalry games are only a click away.
Should you enjoy a deep, customizable offline mode, dynasty will be the greatest time-sink in this game. With options of playing a ten to thirty-year dynasty, an enjoyable recruiting system, and full control over your favorite team’s destiny, dynasty mode is easily the best game type in NCAA Basketball 10. Unfortunately, that isn’t saying much.
Game mode expectations have vastly increased over the past couple of years as EA’s NHL series and 2K Games’ NBA 2K series have provided some of the more popular modes among gamers today: “Team Play”, and “My Player.” “Team Play” allows for each player on both teams to be controlled by one person; this is a game mode that preaches collaboration and realism, which quickly turns into a fresh experience. “My Player” mode allows for the player to create and customize their own player, leading him through his entire career. Allowing the player to start from the bottom and work his way to the top brings an almost RPG element to these sports games, and puts a whole new spin on them. Having to study, practice, and perform on game day, simply playing as your sole created player would have been an exhilarating, all new experience.
True revolutionary integration with the NBA Live series could lie within this mode. Taking a college basketball star from a freshman nobody, through March Madness, and into the NBA. Being able to play the same player from college and into the pros is something I have always wished for in both basketball and football games. No longer would NCAA sports games feel like that niche alternative, but, instead, a fantastic addition to each year’s pro game titles. This is something I find to be one of the best modes alongside a dynasty mode. Because Team Play and My Player are excluded in this title, when comparing NCAA Basketball 10 with other sports games, it feels a bit light for a $60 purchase
The question I keep asking myself now is “What next?” NCAA Basketball 10 feels like a title that is only meant for college basketball fans. But when the game feels almost entirely like the NBA Live engine, there are no game modes to differentiate it from its big brother, and it comes out a full month after NBA Live, I truly question who else this game is for. While it is a solid title, it may have only two options: differentiate, or integrate.
Differentiating itself from NBA Live would be a difficult task. While one can’t help but compare the two year in, year out, there will still be a superior alternative. But it may be integration that could really revitalize a series that so rightly deserves it.
NCAA Basketball 10 is a great game where it counts for a majority of sim sports fanatics. Gameplay mechanics and controls, despite some issues, provide fluidity and realism, but, again, having to play the game around its AI issues tends to be a bit frustrating at times. While some enthusiasts may be disappointed to hear that there aren’t any new game modes, NCAA Basketball 10 is a great purchase this holiday for any college basketball fan, especially considering EA’s recent 30% off sale using coupon code EAPARTNERS2009.
With CBS and ESPN broadcasting, one of the best menu systems, and improvements to character models and animation, NCAA 10 truly sets the bar for sports games.
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Despite a couple of AI issues, the improvements to gameplay mechanics - most notably motion offense - bring together elements that make the best facets of college basketball stand out.
The crowd and commentary feel very realistic to the college experience. However, the commentary itself does feel a bit thin, as it can sound extremely repetitive at times.
Online gameplay is not as rich as one would hope. Sadly, Dynasty Mode is the only thing that may keep you playing.
A great addition to any college basketball fan's library. The issues with AI and lack of new game modes are a bit frustrating, but the overall improvements to gameplay and presentation make this title an enjoyable and rewarding experience.