A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a college football game attempting to authentically replicate the NCAA atmosphere. The game contains a large dose of advertising from companies like Old Spice. It is playable online, a feature Common Sense Media doesn't recommend for kids under age 12.
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What's it about?
In video games, the college football season starts a little earlier than in real life. Electronic Arts has just rolled out NCAA FOOTBALL 09, the latest and perhaps one of the most disappointing in the series. Players can choose to command a school to supremacy via recruiting and clutch gameplay, or propel an athlete to Heisman Trophy status in Campus Legend. There are also mini-games to choose from, including a variation on Horse.
Longtime fans of the series will find the controls very familiar, although they might be complicated for new players. You can control everything from play calling to individual pre-play adjustments as well as straightforward passing and catching. Presentation is much cleaner as well. Visuals look more polished, particularly with players. Animations are more varied. You'll see multiple celebrations after plays as well as players slowly returning to their feet after hard hits. New to the franchise is a Breakaway Engine, in which ballcarriers can juke, spin, or stiff-arm their way past opponents for big gains. While this feat can be gratifying, it sometimes leads to sloppy tackling by computer-controlled players attempting to bring you down from behind.
Is it any good?
In general, NCAA Football 09 is a decent football game, just not as good as earlier versions in the NCAA Football series. Instead of introducing interesting or groundbreaking features, NCAA Football 09 is more or less a prettier version of last year's game. Defensive pressure is mild. Computer-controlled offensive schemes are adequate, and yet they focus on slowly moving up field as opposed to mixing up plays. There are some quality additions, like the increased appearance of mascots and cheerleaders to bolster the college atmosphere and the enhanced online components including dynasty modes and roster sharing, but overall, the game lacks real innovation to separate it from its predecessors. While the quality of football portrayed is solid, fans of this series may feel like it's a step down.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.