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Gameplay, features make ‘NCAA Football 10’ a must-buy

EA Sports tends not to tinker too much with its gaming franchises.

The company will usually just add a new feature or two each year to spice up new releases.

But EA delivered some wholesale changes this season to “NCAA Football 10,” delivering the best game yet on the current generation of consoles.

The coolest addition is TeamBuilder, a feature that allows gamers to create a school and its players. In past versions of the game, you could create a school. But TeamBuilder is so much more advanced than that previous feature that it’s an insult to compare the two.

TeamBuilder allows you to customize the team, the uniforms, the logo, the field, the stadium and the players. Users can upload logos through the feature’s Web site and use that to customize their favorite college or high school. Nearly all of the Football Championship Subdivision logos are in the game, so creating Georgia Southern or Furman is pretty easy. So too is creating all-time teams from your favorite schools.

Creating high schools has become popular. EA’s Web site already lists 16 teams created for Northside High School and 11 for Warner Robins High School. Most local high schools already have a created team.

The other new feature is Season Showdown, which makes the player pick their favorite school and then receive points for in-game performance that add to the nationwide total for that school. Say you pick Georgia. You accumulate points for every game you play, which then are added to Georgia’s overall total. You can also lose points for poor sportsmanship — not punting on fourth down, running up the score, etc. The school with the most points at the end of the season will be crowned Season Showdown champ.

The recruiting feature receives tweaks in the dynasty mode, and the Road to Glory feature adds the lovely Erin Andrews as its host.

Some, however, might not appreciate the subtle changes in gameplay.

At its core, the latest incarnation of EA Sports’ college football franchise offers the same on-field experience that it has for the previous few games, but the minor gameplay additions do make a more realistic football game, and hardcore football fans will appreciate the changes.

Shotgun snaps can go high or low. Hitting the quarterback before he throws will force a bad pass. The receiver animations are improved, making it so the ball doesn’t go through a receiver’s helmet or chest like it did in previous games. You can lock in on a player, controlling from his perspective for the entire play.

EA Sports releases rarely gives this much advancement in terms of gameplay and features. So if you’re thinking about sticking with last year’s version with updated rosters, then you’re missing out on a pretty good game.

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