Friday, July 29, 2005

Are you ready for some football?

This week's purchase was the annual EA Sports college football game, in this case, "NCAA 06."

Nothing like running the option as a warmup for some serious Raiders "Madden" playing.

Last year, I bought the big "Madden" Collector's Edition, and then hardly played. I never quite recovered from the Raiders cutting Tim Brown in real life. This year, I'm sure it will be different, though...

Usually, I only play the college game until "Madden" comes out, because the college game has been a) an inferior football game, more like the previous year's "Madden," and b) because they don't license player names, so I get sick of either living with guys named QB#12 or typing in names.

But this year, two major happenings: First, they enabled with button to just make up random names for players. Saves a ton of time when there's 119 Division I-A teams and a bunch of D I-AA ones. It's a little weird to see the guy I know is USC's star quarterback, Matt Leinert, called Willie Coe, but hey, I could always change it. But at 70 guys per team and about 150 teams... well, no, "NCAA 07" would be out before I'm done, and I type fast.

One serious downside: Whether it's my first-gen PS2 or what, the game hitches like mad on the loading screens - the gameplay's fine, but God is it annoying to try and wade through everything to get there. The disc is in perfect shape, so I'd guess it's my aging PS2.

The second major happening? "Heisman mode." It's like Dynasty mode, but with one player - you create a freshman, work out, win scholarship offers, and find yourself starting on opening day. You've got four years of eligibility and your goals are to win the Heisman and the national title (and, based on the inclusion of a girlfriend picture, get laid).

So on my third try at the workouts (first one went badly, as I chose my position poorly; second one, the computer hiccuped when I tried to save and I wound up losing my game) I wound up getting an offer from #1 USC. As a scrambling QB. But who's going to turn down the nation's top program?

There I am, in a passing offense, running like hell, while the nation's top player, in virtual form, is holding on placekicks. It's a little weird, but hey, I stunned 'em at the workout, what can I say?

And then, after four years, I can import my guy into "Madden," which apparently has a similar mode, with a 20-year career path (it's out in a couple of weeks). It's an awesome twist on the Dynasty mode, which is just about the greatest thing ever in video game history, or at least this side of "Resident Evil" and "Gran Turismo." Run every aspect of the franchise - the Raiders, of course - from ticket prices to free agent signings to my personal favorite, the NFL Draft. One year, I even did what Al Davis has never managed, to build a new, football-only stadium in Oakland.

And I won three straight Super Bowls, with Mild Bill Callahan as my head coach. For my next trick, I'll be out on the Passaic, walking.

EA Sports: It's in the game! ...

...Including a slow, overweight Asian Jew's white, rifle-armed, sprinter-speed teenage alter ego. Who rushed for 200 yards on opening day.