(Originally published on Unabashed) This is a great series of games, of which I have owned almost (if not) every version that’s been released. But there always seems to be something getting in the way of my full enjoyment of the games, so I thought I might write a bit about what’s wrong with them in the hopes that the EA folks might happen by here one day and possibly consider making a few modifications to the next release version.
First, the good, and there’s a lot of good. This game is consistently my favorite and most-played game. These are some of the main points, but rest assured gameplay is fantastic:
- ‘08’s front room (or main screen, or front screen) is a vast improvement over many of the previous versions. (The Gameday crew of the ’07 version on the game lead-in screen was absolutely laughable and horrendous and I’m glad they dropped it. It wasn’t all that bad an idea, but the application was pitifully atrocious.)
- I love being able to set my own schedule. Trading UL Monroe for USC or Michigan or Clemson or West Virginia is a treat and a great feature.
- The stadiums look great. The field looks great. The players look great. Visually this game is awesome. Sometimes the shadows are tough (try playing OSU at home wearing the black uniforms on a day game. You can’t see the players on the shadowy portion of the field) and often the crowds and the sidelines look ridiculous. It would be nice if they gave a bit more effort to the sidelines, made them look more realistic.
- Thank God they changed the kickoff difficulty. It was outrageous that a kickoff or punt was so extremely hard in previous versions when the difficulty setting was Heisman. It should be no more difficult to kick a field goal, from a controller perspective, on Heisman as on Freshman. So thanks for changing that.
And now, the bad:
- The playbook design option is great, if only it worked. I spent a lot of time designing my own playbook and then found that, once I’d saved it, I couldn’t access it. I couldn’t choose it to use during a game. This was infuriating.
- It takes no less than six option screens to get from the main page to your saved Dynasty screen, and then another three or four to get to play a game. There’s got to be a better way. Why do you have to choose the file, okay the load, then choose the file and okay the load again? The repetition is infuriating every time I load my Dynasty. Put a link to saved files on the main screen so we can click straight in for cripe’s sake.
- I’ve never been able to create a recruit and actually recruit him to my team. There should be an option for “Recruit normally” and “Recruit to my team.” Yes, this would be an easy way for someone who has a Dynasty to fill a void, or multiple voids, with great players, but it’s a game and I want to be able to do that. Otherwise the “create a recruit” is a big, fat, stupid waste of time.
- Different difficulty levels. I want to be able to score points, but at the same time I want to play in competitive games. This is almost impossible with a single difficulty level. They somewhat managed this by allowing you to change difficulty settings during the game, something you used to be penalized for in the game, but it would be much easier and nicer if I could set my offense to “Varsity” and my defense to “All-American” or something like that. I like that I can change the user and the CPU’s difficulty settings individually, but I would like to be able to do that with the overall difficulty setting as well. a. If my gameplay is advanced enough to compete at the Heisman difficulty setting, I want to be able to do that and still be able to recruit enough quality players to keep my Dynasty going. Give me a different difficulty setting for recruiting that from the game portion, and if I set it to “Freshman” then my team should by God be the number one recruiting class every time.
- Recruiting is too difficult and too convoluted, which is fine for some folks. Sometimes I want to spend time looking at recruits and analyzing them, but usually I just want to play the games. Give us an auto-recruit feature so we can pick which one we’ll do, and if my difficulty is set to Freshman my team should by God be the number one recruiting class every time.
- Each year there should be an amazing recruit with mad skillz in the recruiting pool, but usually there isn’t. He should be a stand-out super recruit, and if my difficulty is set to freshman my team should by God be able to recruit him. Period.
- It’s just irritating to spend recruiting time asking a recruit who wants to go pro to stay another year. Worse, when the answer is, “I don’t know coach. I’m undecided.” And you have to do it over again. And sometimes for a third or fourth time. Sure, it might work that way in real life, but this is a game. Give me an answer one way or the other right off the bat. I’ve got recruiting to get to.
- Why should you only be able to change a player’s position on one screen during the pre-season options? And that option comes before the depth chart setting screen. How can I know where I’m deficient for next year like that? I need to be able to look at my depth chart, see where I need help, and then change positions to fill holes.
- Also: when you change a players position he immediately sucks at the new position. This is not like real life at all. True, a three year cornerback might not catch as well as a wide receiver, but many of the skills are there. Sometimes running backs are moved to DE in the real world, OL to DL, TE to MLB or OLB, but in the game this is virtually impossible. Real life scenario: This season Alabama moved Jimmy Johns from RB to LB. I tried that on my game and his rating dropped from the 80s to the 50s. That’s bull. JJ is a phenomenal athlete with a broad set of skills, he can play better linebacker than that. Sure, he may not be upper 80s, but he still should be able to play.
- Let me delete games from the “Great Game” screen. I lost 17-14 to LSU on the last play of the game on the Heisman difficulty setting and manned up and saved the season. But now that game is recorded infinitely as one of my “Greatest Games.” You know what? Nobody considers a loss, no matter how great the game was, to be one of their greatest games. Penn State probably doesn’t cherish the ’79 Sugar Bowl like Alabama does. Don’t make me stare at my failures like that. 10. As for gameplay, as I’ve already stated it’s remarkable. But it could be better. If a well thrown ball is lobbed up to a receiver who has the lead on a DB to the corner of the end zone, the DB will invariably jump some fifteen feet into the air and swat it away or pick it. To which I say, huh? This is a mainstay play in football, and if a WR has a DB beat, the well thrown ball is caught probably 90% of the time in real life. Fix it.