NCAA 2008 Demo Impressions

It's available on the marketplace. Just played my first game. Love the gangtackling. Seemed a little slow or is that just me?

/I tried finding the NCAA 2008 thread, but didn't see one. If I missed it...well, you know the drill.

I'm looking forward to trying this tonight, I've heard nothing but good things about it.

I can't wait to get home and play this. I may have to call home and have my wife start the download for me.

Quick notes as I'm supposed to be working. Played a couple of games. USC - Michigan. The gang tackles look really good. Somewhat concerned about it being a little sluggish. After a play, there's a delay of a second or two when I can't advance past the animation screen and jump into play selection. (this was my major complaint with Madden last year). Haven't figured out how to change the difficulty yet or if it can even be done in the demo, because it's set to way too easy at the moment. Lots of INTs...4 in one game w 2 minute halfs.

magnus wrote:
Quick notes as I'm supposed to be working. Played a couple of games. USC - Michigan. The gang tackles look really good. Somewhat concerned about it being a little sluggish. After a play, there's a delay of a second or two when I can't advance past the animation screen and jump into play selection. (this was my major complaint with Madden last year).

So, it runs at 60 fps except when it runs at 0 fps? I agree -- this was a major annoyance with both Madden and NCAA last year.

Don't get me wrong, it's not as bad at all as Madden last year. And hey, it's a demo. The Forza 2 demo was horrible that way. Gameplay is hard to judge on varsity level, 4 minute games, because it's so dang easy.

magnus wrote:
Don't get me wrong, it's not as bad at all as Madden last year. And hey, it's a demo. The Forza 2 demo was horrible that way.

Yeah. Pre-release demos often are missing the final round of polish and optimization. Hell, the Shadowrun beta was night and day from the actual final product, even though it preceded the final game by less than 2 months.

Immediate impressions:

Camera angle sucks. I'm not sure when EA decided that seeing downfield was less important than a nice shot of the tailback's ass. This especially blows on defense if you actually try to play pass coverage. You also can't see the receivers on the edges until they're 5+ yards downfield. I'm viewing this on a 47" 1080p LCD, not a tiny little SD box either. Hopefully this is only a default angle and that there is a nice, high angle shot to choose from in the full game.

Framerate, unlike every EA football effort to date, does not suck. This is what made the other EA 360 football games completely unplayable for me, and I'm excited to see that it's no longer a problem here. There are some pre-play pauses sometimes, but they're not nearly as regular as before, and as has already been said here, this is just a demo.

Pass placement seems to be improved, but I have to be able to take it into a practice mode to really see.

Lots of bodies clipping through each other during between-play stuff.

*Legion* wrote:

Lots of bodies clipping through each other during between-play stuff.

I'll trade that for good gameplay in a heartbeat. I usually end up skipping all the between-play stuff anyway.

magnus wrote:
I'll trade that for good gameplay in a heartbeat. I usually end up skipping all the between-play stuff anyway.

I'll trade a lot for good gameplay. But because you can't really judge that well until you're able to play the real game on real settings, these are the things to pick out.

Yep. I got bored with the demo after 3 games. Varsity level doesn't give us much information. Got it on pre-order with overnight shipping, so hope to get it on release day. I do make this mistake every single year though.

Lots of bodies clipping through each other during between-play stuff.

Not just that, but I've run into lots of magical, sudden displacements of players during play. I just saw a USC TE move laterally by 3-5 yards to make a catch in a split second. Also saw a defensive player teleport to make a tackle.

The new play calling screens...well, the plays themselves are a lot easier to see. I don't like the way the call plays by formation selection is set up. The previous incarnation was fine. Maybe it'll just take some getting used to, but right now it just takes a bit more time to get where I'm going.

The Pontiac Drive Summary crap takes up the whole frickin' screen!

All in all it seems a lot more polished than last year's effort. I'm with Legion that the pauses at the end of each play seem to be a lot less obvious, although now there is often a less obvious hiccup just after calling a play.

Seen some silly bugs, like a safety who somehow had no assignment and just floated around in space until a pass was completed. Another time a DB failed to properly follow his assigned WR in motion, leaving him wide open for a quick pass (which the AI dutifully took advantage of)

Also got a nice view of a Michigan DE's ass as he lined up facing the wrong way.

But still, a decent camera angle will make this a must-play game for me. No camera control may kill my interest completely, though. As much as I want to just "get used to it", depth perception is complete and utter sh*t beyond 10 yards downfield, and there's just no getting around that.

EDIT: Here's a fun one that I just had happen: in overtime, rough the opponent's kicker on an extra point. Then be amazed as you get to do something nobody else in college football does - receive a kickoff in overtime! Then be amazed again as the ball is magically put on the 25 yard line, regardless of where you returned it to (I wonder what would happen if I managed to get a TD on the return)

Often these demos represent old code. Here's hoping.

Certis wrote:
Often these demos represent old code. Here's hoping.

Yeah, I'm assuming that's the case until shown otherwise. If it is old code, it's actually reasonably impressive, as it does hit 60fps without stutter during the action.

If the final code reduces/removes the between-play hiccups and fixes these bugs (and provides camera control!), then I expect to be impressed with this game.

*Legion* wrote:
Certis wrote:
Often these demos represent old code. Here's hoping.

Yeah, I'm assuming that's the case until shown otherwise. If it is old code, it's actually reasonably impressive, as it does hit 60fps without stutter during the action.

If the final code reduces/removes the between-play hiccups and fixes these bugs (and provides camera control!), then I expect to be impressed with this game.

I'm not getting my hopes up on the camera controls...do I remember that neither Madden or NCAA allowed you to change this last year?

Also, I don't like that it takes a RT pull and a R-stick push to get a view of the routes for the play you've called. Why not have the RT pull default to that view, then modify it with a LT or stick push to get the 'motivation', whatever the hell that is.

firesloth wrote:
I'm not getting my hopes up on the camera controls...do I remember that neither Madden or NCAA allowed you to change this last year?

Correct with regards to the 360 versions. The non next-gen versions had camera control, and I've been hoping that this is one of the missing features that finally crawl into the next gen.

Also, I don't like that it takes a RT pull and a R-stick push to get a view of the routes for the play you've called. Why not have the RT pull default to that view, then modify it with a LT or stick push to get the 'motivation', whatever the hell that is.

Agreed. I also don't like that the routes (the pass routes especially) are in this light super-transparent color that's hard to see. More opaque, please.

The more I play this demo, the more misgivings I am having about the AI.

I've seen safeties completely ignore the run until the ballcarrier crosses the line of scrimmage - which, on outside runs, is a long time to ignore the play.

I've seen blockers space out and ignore delayed rushers.

Outside running remains spotty because of offensive line failings. Pulling linemen don't "kick out" contain defenders on outside runs (which would provide a cutback lane for the runner). Instead, they tend to either cut upfield as if nobody's there, or they kinda stutter-step and halfheartedly engage the defender. In either case, the defender usually blows up the play.

Also, who makes these playbooks, and why has this person never heard of an "out" pattern? This was the case in Madden, too. The most basic and common pass pattern that wide receivers (the guys on the end - split ends and flankers) run is an out pattern on the sideline. Yet both NCAA and Madden rarely have anyone but slot receivers run the pattern. If what happened when I audibled to out patterns in the NCAA demo is any indication, there may be a reason for it - except when the DB is in tight man coverage, DBs have absolutely no idea how to cover it. I did some testing by grabbing two controllers and running Cover 2 zones on defense (where the CB should camp the shallow outside zone) and audibling the edge receiver to run a 5-and-out. This is a primo "interception" situation normally, but every time I tried it, the zone defender actually drifted back inside after a few seconds - AWAY from the WR - leaving the out pass perfectly open.

I hope some of this AI stupidity disappears on higher difficulty levels, but especially for multiplayer play, color me worried.

I don't think (hope?) the demo is as polished as the retail game. The guys over at operation sports that have it seem to be in love with the game.

Check this out: http://www.easportsworld.com/#video-831/HOME/518

I watch that and I see two linebackers who begin the play by sliding to their right without moving their feet, and a free safety who just kinda stands still and stares at the play before deciding that he should play too. It's an option play, so the second that the QB starts moving horizontal to the line of scrimmage, the free safety should be creeping to the outside. Instead, he doesn't take a step until just a hair before the QB pitches to the HB. By the time he actually starts moving, the left guard has already gone through two levels of the defense and is knocking him down.

The guard has no problem getting there, as the backside linebacker ran headfirst into traffic, directly at the ballcarrier, instead of sliding horizontally across the field in basic backside pursuit. His efforts are wasted, of course, as if you run directly at someone that's running upfield, he's gonna be well past you before you get to him.

I sure hope that the FS and WLB have low "awareness" ratings, or that's questionable AI. Still, even a high school safety knows when the QB takes the snap and runs sideways, you're now officially in run support.

Wow, I just had another nice foul-up with the demo. On a play-action pass, one of the defenders ran into my running back before the QB could perform the fake. So the QB continued to run down the field, ball outstretched in play-fake motion, not allowing me to do anything but continue to run with the QB. Finally he puts the ball away but the pass indicators never come up.

It's a testament to the GOOD things that the game does that I'm still playing it, and eager to get my GameFly copy.

I'm grateful that you're lowering my expectations, man, but I still can't wait to play it tomorrow

/I wonder who had contain on that play?
//Also, check out the play next to it.

My Blockbuster has it, but they refuse to release the game until tomorrow. Bastards.

magnus wrote:
I'm grateful that you're lowering my expectations, man, but I still can't wait to play it tomorrow

/I wonder who had contain on that play?
//Also, check out the play next to it.

The late, great NFL 2K5 had a laundry list of flaws that I can point out too, some of them maddening. Though I certainly expect more from a football game in 2007 than I did in 2004. Still, from what I've seen and played, my current expectation of NCAA 08 is a solid B, 4 out of 5, the first good next-gen EA Sports game outside of the fabulous Fight Night. But there will certainly be room for improvement next year.

But there will certainly be room for improvement next year.

That's probably by design...just to keep us buying 'em year after year. Yeah, I've got it on my Gamefly queue as well.

You guys are not going to believe me, but Campus Legend is fun.