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When ND football once a week isn’t enough

Observer Scene | Tuesday, September 9, 2003

If you can’t make it through the week without your fix of blocked punts, safeties and mascots, or if you’re frustrated that you can never see the Fighting Irish play the Golden Gophers of Minnesota, EA Sports just may have your solution.

NCAA Football 2004 was released over the summer and is a must-have for any video game library.

The game-play is about the same as any other football game produced in recent memory, so if you’ve ever played a Madden game, you can pretty much handle the controls. One of the many novelties of this game is the obvious one that you can play as Notre Dame, which means that you can sack the quarterback with the guy who used to borrow your toothpaste or score a touchdown with that guy who’s in front of you in class. Once you get past that, this game has so much more to offer.

There’s dynasty mode that lets you take the role of the head coach and Athletic Director. Players need to be recruited, schedules made and National Championships won. You’re put in the driver’s seat and you have to build your program up to challenge year after year for the national championship, while at the same time losing players to graduation and recruiting more to fill the ranks.

Even regular exhibition games are fun to play. You have a huge selection of 1-A and 1-AA teams and, as an extra bonus, there are a slew of playable classic teams. If you’re ever in a sadistic mood, you can pit the 1924 Notre Dame team against Middle Tennessee State and watch the carnage that ensues.

Yet another fun feature is the college classic option. This one is personally my favorite. You’re given a real historical situation, one of the best games played in the past 25 years or so, and you either have to match a historic comeback or change history and win the game as the team that lost it. The game puts you in at the end of the game in a critical situation and you have to finish it out. After you do, the teams are unlocked as classic teams for regular game-play. This is a great feature, because not only can you play the great games that you remember watching when you were little, but they’re short enough that you can play during your lunch break or between classes and not have to worry about being late. The only frustrating part about this mode is overtime. Many of the classic games were actually played before the NCAA overtime rule, and yet. if you tie at the end of regulation, you play overtime as if the game were played today.

Beyond that, the limit of my frustrations has to do more with the NCAA than the game itself. Players’ names are not allowed to appear in the game – only their numbers. This can prove to be a little annoying but only detracts a little from the game. Overall, this game is definitely worth both your time and money.