PS2 REVIEW: NCAA '06 FOOTBALL
With great new moves, excellent graphics, plenty of deep, exciting modes including a variety of mini-games, NCAA Football 06 comes highly recommended. If you passed on last year's game this is definitely the year to buy. College football has never looked and performed so professionally.

The road to the Heisman is paved with good intentions but unlike previous years this new road is like a freshly groomed snowmobile trial. It's smooth, adventurous and cool. You can't even compare this version to the 05 game. It's not only a deeper experience but it's more accessible and easier to play than even before. It captures the essence of college ball right down to each teams' fighting song. It's impressive to see the various arenas and crowd responses. It's almost better than being there - and the beer is cheaper at home.

At the start of the game you create a player and put him through training. As you perform various drills you will earn points and develop skills that will help determine his future in the game including the school he will attend and other such offers. Some of the drills rely on AI teammates where you're not always the center of attention. Often you won't even get the ball thrown to you which will cost you points in the long run. You have to be patient while you continue to reach your goal.

Impact players are the best players on the team. When they are in a position to take advantage of their skills, known as "in the zone," a white circle will appear underneath them indicating that you should get the ball to them as soon as possible to gain some yards or even score a touchdown. The impact players are like power-ups but whereas they will ultimately help your team they are also featured on the opposing team. If you manage to tackle one of them you will be rewarded with more points than normal. This feature serves to highlight the kind of inconsistent range of talent that exists on the college circuit which includes rank amateurs fresh out of high school that are prone to lots of mistakes, right on up to those that are one step away from being drafted in the NFL.

Recruiting talent is a seriously engaging mode. You will comb the high schools on your star search, checking out stats and interviewing prospects. Your travels will take you throughout the country but you can narrow your search to a number of states. You'll draw up contracts and try to entice some of the best players to attend your school. You can even invite them down to watch some games. It's a very interactive mode that allows you to wheel and deal with the best of them. The end results could be a winning team.

Controls are very accurate and arcade-like. It's still a complex game to play but at least you won't be fighting the control system. Passes are easy to execute but that all depends on how open the receiver is. The analog stick is a hit stick and really comes in handy for some quick reflex responses that really put you "in the moment." Tackle animations have been increased so you can expect the unexpected when you make one.

Online play is virtually indistinguishable from off-line play. Not only is the pace of the game faster but the framerate is smooth with no serious hiccups. Considering how detailed the graphics are this is a commendable accomplishment. Lights reflect off of helmets, jerseys sway in the breeze and the well-rendered faces of the players display emotions that range from steely-cold stares to ecstacy when a touchdown in scored. The audio is great with hard-hitting sound effects and a truly inspired crowd that reacts appropriately to each situation. The only bug in the ointment is that some of the commentary from the last game has been recycled. There are some new comments but there is a tendency to replay phrases to the point of wanting to hurt someone.

NCAA 2006 is now in the big leagues. Madden better have something really good to offer this fall because this game is just frothing at the mouth to kick his fat ass.

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System: Xbox, PS2, PC
Dev: Tiburon
Pub: EA
Release: July 2005
Players: 1 - 8 online
Review by Dan
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
5.0