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NCAA Basketball 10

 

NCAA Basketball 10

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Sports
 
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Features:

1-4 Players
9MB to Game Save
HDTV (all formats)
In-Game Dolby Digital
2 Players Online Multiplayer

Being Canadian we often do not get a lot exposure to NCAA College Basketball on TV. Granted, we get some highlights buried at the back end of TSN's Sportscenter, and most sports tickers seem to have an endless stream of NCAA final score results. Yet at the end of the day, if it were not for March Madness many Canadians would go through life never having watched a single NCAA Basketball game. So it likely comes as a surprise to many Canadian gamers that there is a video game based on the NCAA Basketball experience. Being this my first experience with such a game I was very curious to see if it not only measures up to EA Sports NBA Live franchise, but also if it managed to accurately convey the realism and authenticity of the college basketball experience. Did they succeed? You will just have to continue reading to find out.

Graphics

As far as the visuals are concerned, NCAA Basketball 10 is an impressive looking game. The presentation is top-notch as everything you would typically see in any given college hoops game is accurately portrayed in the virtual game. From the player animations to the shiny looking courts, NCAA 10 leaves you wanting more and more. From the moment you fire up the game, the presentation has a way of building a level of excitement and authenticity that any college basketball fan will appreciate. This does not always translate into stellar gameplay but as far as the games visuals are concerned, NCAA 10 scores high marks.

I was most impressed with the games bright colours featured throughout the game. They simply look stunning in full 1080p HD. The colours really pop out at you and the attention to detail is impressive. Some of the arenas were unbelievably realistic looking and the player animations are equally life-like within them. From the team logos at center court to glossy finish of the paint on the floor, everything looks impressive. Even the fans look great as they do not look like generic paper board cut-outs. There is some occasional slow-down and a few other graphical hiccups, but at the end of the day NCAA Basketball 10 is a great looking game. You can tell a tremendous amount of attention went into the games presentation and graphics; and it truly pays off.

Sound

The NBA Live franchise has always been solid in the sound department, so it comes as no surprise NCAA Basketball 10 is also a great sounding game. Simply put, the game's audio is strong and sounds great in 5.1 surround sound. From the soundtrack to the commentating, NCAA 10 does a wonderful job at creating that crazy college hoops atmosphere. Not to mention, the sounds of the game are varied and effective. Everything from the crowd cheers, the ball bouncing, sneakers squeaking, to the player chatter; all of it is very good and adds to the overall atmosphere of the game. Other in-game sound effects are all bang-on as the sounds of the game are accurately portrayed in the game with perfection.

The trio of Dick Vitale, Brad Nessler and Erin Andrews do the commentary this time around and I was amazed at the quality of the play calling. You really feel like you are "in the game" and the trio lend to a truly authentic college basketball experience. Their voices are crystal clear and they comment on the game accurately and in a timely manner. The repetitiveness is an issue at times, as it is with pretty much all major sports tittles, but only becomes somewhat noticeable after a half a dozen games in.

Gameplay

I have to admit that when it comes to basketball games I am a bit of a novice. There aren't many advanced moves or designed plays I pull off during a game. For the most part, I just focus on solid passing and shooting. If you are a rookie to playing basketball games you will likely be impressed with NCAA Basketball 10; however, if you are veteran hoopster who has already had a taste of Sony's, 2K's or EA Sports' other basketball titles then you might be somewhat disappointed. Don't get me wrong overall NCAA 10 is a good game but with so many hoop games already saturating the market there are simply better options available.

According to some of the press material that arrived with the game, NCAA Basketball 10 features several gameplay enhancements. A new shot control system simplifies shooting to the touch of a button and new locomotion allows players to move intelligently based on their position. This sounds great in theory, but far too often players would not react as they should or play defence as they should. Far too often I would be able to drive from end to end cutting through the defence like ‘Swiss cheese’. Also, as good as some of the players animations are in the game we still see far too many phantom fouls in this game. I found that there were more instances than I thought there should have been where I would not even touch the opposing player and the whistle would blow calling a foul. Granted, poor play calling by the officials is part of the game at times but it just seemed a bit too much for my liking.

On a more positive note, NCAA Basketball 10 also features a signature motion offence where each school brings a different flavour to the court including the Dribble Drive, Princeton, and Zone Motion. For those hardcore b-ball gamers, the signature motion offence is a great feature as spacing and movement is the core to the college game. Pressing the left bumper initiates the motion control movement and open players will display an icon making it easier to hit them with a pass. Overall it works quite well, but it certainly does take some practice. The window to hit the open player is very short and if you completely rely on the icon you will be sadly disappointed.

For many gamers picking up the game, the majority of time will likely be spent in the season mode. Picking your favourite team and pounding away at a full season is always enjoyable for those hardcore fans and was certainly enjoyable for me as well. The mode offers up lots of depth with all the stat tracking your heart can desire. On the downside, for some reason you cannot play your teams actual 2009 schedule which I found odd, especially considering NCAA Basketball 10 features dynamic updates where stats are updated from ESPN every Monday. The Top 25, RPI for every school, and teams stats are all updated every week. It certainly adds to the realism of the game, but it is hard to pay much attention to the ESPN updates when my virtual season does not line up with the actual one in the real world. The traditional 5-on-5 game itself plays pretty good and seemingly all my games were very close when it came to the final score. Granted I did notice some blatant rule violations which were ignored, and I also noticed some aspects of the gameplay which seemed out of place, but for the most part the game plays fairly well and was an enjoyment. I am not convinced NCAA Basketball 10 plays any better than NBA Live though, but they are certainly on par with one another.

The multiplayer component of the game was much better than I expected. Granted, I did experience some slowdown here and there, but overall my online games ran fairly well. Admittedly I did not spend as much time online as I could have; however, the time I did spend was an enjoyable and humbling experience. Needless to say, there are a lot of good b-ball gamers online.


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