Thursday, July 20, 2006

Randomization: 07/20/06

Well, I'm glad I did the Atlantic Division first. Not that it matters, because Duke still sucks at football, but QB Zack Asack decided to pull an Ann Coulter. Unfortunately for Asack, Duke's standards are a bit higher than the Universal Press Syndicate's, and Asack will not play football for the Dukies this season. With that in mind, I've moved them from last in the Atlantic to last in the Atlantic. Too bad for Ted Roof. He's recruited his tail off, only to have the guys who can stay healthy betray him in other ways. I hope he isn't judged by his wins and losses, because it's going to be another ugly year.

NCAA Football 07. For the first time ever, I acquired a new video game on the day of its release. And it's worth every penny. Sure, EA's latest college football title has its flaws (hang on to that thought), but there is so much to like.

Expanded playbooks. Both offensive and defensive playbooks are bigger this year, with the changes in the offensive playbooks being the most noticeable. There are more variations of formations, and there are more plays. Spread junkies will enjoy this game, as there are more spread formations and plays than you can fit in one custom playbook. Also new in the spread are option plays with wide receivers. Line up in four- or five-wide, and send your slot receiver in motion across the formation, and you can run him as the wing on an option play with your quarterback.

Momentum. It can be difficult, because momentum is probably tougher to reverse on this game than it should be, but it's a fun addition. Guys play better when they have the momentum, and when you're playing the computer, you're less likely to get some random 90-yard play out of nowhere when you've dominated the whole game (unless you screw something up). The one downside to it is that, as I mentioned, when you fall behind, it's excessively difficult to get a lot of positive momentum going.

Recruiting. I haven't done any offseason recruiting yet (only four games into my first season), but the in-season recruiting seems to be a little more well-done. You pick your guys like you did in NCAA 06, but I think I'm getting more feedback from potential recruits than I was getting in 06.

Practice. In Dynasty mode, you can conduct practices with your team. You can run skeleton drills, offense only, or the full squad in a full-contact workout. It's a good chance to work on some of the new plays available, so you know what works and what doesn't. It's also a good chance to see what you can do with the trick special teams plays available. Oh, yeah...

Better selection of trick plays on special teams. You can run the old Puntrooskie. You can pitch the ball to your placekicker for a fake field goal run. You can fake or execute reverses on kick/punt returns. Fun all around.

Announcing, part one. One of the wrinkles I noticed in ESPN College Hoops 2K5 was this: When you put in the names of the players, play-by-play guy Mike Patrick would actually say the names. And it wasn't just common names like "Wilkinson", "Tucker", or "Taylor". He said more obscure names like "Stiemsma" and "Butch" (Clearly, I am the Badgers in that game). On NCAA 07, which has some ESPN stuff in it, play-by-play guy Brad Nessler says a ton of players' names that he wouldn't normally say. Of course, you have to manually enter the names yourself (or send your memory card to one of the roster gurus available on various video game message boards), but if you enter the name, and it's the real player being depicted, Nessler will say the name at some point.

(Wisconsin examples: Mehlhaff, DeBausche, Ostrowski, Zalewski, Minton.)

The camera angle on kick/punt returns. It sucks. It's harder to see, and it was an unnecessary change.

The camera angle when making pre-snap reads. When you pan back to check your play against the defensive formation, the angle is different. It's much lower to the ground, and it's harder to see all your pass routes. This is more whiny than anything else, because now I have to memorize the pass routes on particular plays, especially for my outside receivers. Wah.

Announcing, part two. Not enough dialogue or graphic changes for me. Though I like all the Coke ads. I wonder what Coke had to pay to get their name splashed all over a video game of this caliber.

As you can see...more pros than cons. It's a fun game. And I'll probably buy it every year before I buy Madden that often, because of the fact that you can take a smaller Division I-A school and spend three or four seasons building the program into being a legitimate contender on the national stage. That's much more fun than you'll ever have in Owner Mode on Madden.

Noooooooooooooooo!!! Not THE HAIR!!! Steve Nash got a haircut, and apparently didn't think it was a big deal that he was ruining the most famous hair of any Canadian athlete. Now he'll never win another MVP. I hope he's happy. Of course, the upside is that maybe he'll play better defense now that he can actually see the player he's guarding.

The previews continue. ACC Coastal is coming, perhaps as soon as Sunday. I also hope to get the Big East and Big 10 done by next week. More Randomization tomorrow, time permitting.

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