NCAA Basketball 10 review
Available for
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher
Electronic Arts
NCAA Basketball 10

Reviewed by Rich DeWester

E

A's "NCAA Basketball" franchise has never received quite the same love and attention that their other sports titles get. It's really never found a way to successfully co-exist with its pro league counterpart the way EA’s football titles have, but this year, they’ve made some key changes to try and fix all that.

Graphically, the game has seen some significant improvements since last year. The players are a lot more detailed and the new crowd animations really add a nice boost, but the game’s interface is the most obvious improvement, with both CBS and ESPN lending their commentators and visuals for "NCAA Basketball 2010." This has been pulled off so brilliantly that it really becomes the game’s most authentic element. If only EA could have used that same eye for detail on some of the game's other areas. Dick Vitale, Brad Nessler, and Erin Andrews from the ESPN side do an especially amazing job of bringing more life to the game.

Everything else seems like small but very welcome additions to gameplay. This year borrows their college football idea of "toughest places to play," so now the crowd plays a slightly bigger role; as they get more involved in the game, the noise factor becomes more intense and the camera begins to shake more and more. This can be a bitch when trying to take a much needed free-throw shot with the freshman you almost immediately regret subbing in.

The other new addition is the game’s expanded play-calling ability, which allows for better use of motion plays and overall strategies to play out. They’ve also managed to keep mechanics simple – tap the left shoulder button and it will set up the motion play, and a little icon appears over a teammate’s head when they’re open. You'll find a lot more offensive options if you hold down the left shoulder button, too.

However, "NCAA Basketball 2010" has some of the same AI issues that "NBA Live 10" has had problems with, and it can at times undo all your efforts – like the game’s annoying tendency to claim players have passing lanes open when they don’t. I openly admit that I'm not the best at basketball games, but I also don't care what you think – either I have a team of pathological liars, or there’s an AI issue here. Players not understanding how the boundaries outside of the court work is a bit annoying as well.

When you boil it all down, there just isn't enough done this year to satisfy anyone besides the hardcore “NCAA” fans. Basketball fans in general will find this game too similar to “Live” to make it seem fresh and worthy of a second purchase. It's unfortunate that EA found itself unable to truly showcase all the drama and intense competition that plays through every college season. Oh well, there’s always next year.

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