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NCAA Gamebreaker 2001 (PS2) Review

Background Info
I just want to ask 989 Sports one question. Do we all really look so stupid that you don't think that anyone can tell the difference between a PlayStation 1 and a PlayStation 2 game? Titles like NCAA Gamebreaker 2001 for the PS2 are the type of games that caused the videogame crash of 1984. As we all know 989's first football effort, Gameday 2001 for the PS2, got many awards last year in the worst game category. So, did you expect anything different from their follow up college football title? I gave it a shot and I'm sorry to say that not much has changed from the pros to the college game.

Presentation/Graphics : 30
What we have here are the hideous Gameday 2001 graphics, wrapped in college uniforms. No change at all and what that leaves you with is player models that are down right fat looking. Jenny Craig, where are you? You have overweight offensive lineman coupled with hard-edged, flat polygons. Ah, what more could you ask for in a game. Not enough, you say. How about washed out colors and stadium lighting so dull, the day games look like night games. I know now what it feels like to have cataracts. If all this isn't bad enough and you thought it couldn't get any worse--you can add the good old N64 fog to the mix. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would see N64 fog in a PS2 videogame but there it is lurking in the background. 989, I'm so ashamed. If I have to say one good thing about the graphics in Gamebreaker 2001, each team's logo on the field looks nice but that's about it.

Presentation/Audio : 55
Thank goodness Keith Jackson is doing all of the announcing in this game. It's just about the only bright spot going for it. Mr. Jackson does a good job of calling the game and his "Whoa Nellys" really gives a badly needed boost to what's going on down on the field. It's always nice to hear a familiar voice in a strange and unpleasant place that's called Gamebreaker 2001. The college band's are all playing their hearts out and do a nice job of giving you a little more college atmosphere. As for the rest of the audio, that's a different story. When the crowd starts cheering, at times it sounds like they're on a track that's keeps repeating over and over. A tad bit like the days of 16-bit football. Too sum it all up: when you hit the speed burst button, your player makes a grunting noise like he could really use a box of Ex-lax.

Interface/Options : 60
Gamebreaker 2001 has more of the same options as the previous versions on the PS1. You get a fantasy game, tournament, scrimmage, bowl season, and a coaching career mode. In the coaching career mode you can take a job at a small time school and work your way up in the rankings and maybe just maybe get a job offer by a big name school. Also you can take a look at school rosters and bribe, I mean recruit, blue-chip athletes. Finally, you have the walk-on option. This is basically a create-a-player mode that lets you make a player and change anything from his physical skills to his physical appearance. All of this would be pretty cool if the actual game was worth playing.

Gameplay : 30
I have always been more of an NFL videogame man myself, but one feature of the Gamebreaker 2001 that I really like is the quarterback option. Being able to turn the corner with Michael Vick and deciding to pitch it back to my tailback is always a lot of fun. Now that's all fine and dandy if gameplay was anywhere up to par as it should be on the PS2. What's wrong with the gameplay, you ask? We will start off with non-existent tackling animation. One second your player's running with the ball, next thing you know he's lying flat on his back. There might be one or two frames of him falling to the ground, but you will be hard pressed to see more than that. It reminded me a lot of playing Madden for the Gameboy. You think I'm joking, don't you? Next up is the useless dive button. About the most a player seemed to be able to dive is a half-yard. You can fall down and get more yards than that. Let's not forget about the CPU's A.I. You will find it riding the short bus to school and turning it up a notch or two will not make it any smarter...just faster. So just consider the skill level setting a speed setting instead. To top all of this off, your screen seems to have the bad case of the shakes. For some reason, especially when attempting a pass, the screen will get all jerky and throw off what little control that you might have while trying to catch the ball. Will somebody shoot me now and put me out of my misery.

Replay Value : 20
Yes, there are all 115 Division 1-A teams with 60 classic college teams from the past. Yes, you have more than 600 plays and 26 formations with some being specific to each college. And finally yes, the coaching mode can add a lot of replay value to Gamebreaker 2001 but what it all boils down to is that you can't polish a turd.

Overall : 30
There could not have been a better time for Sega to drop out of the hardware market and focus only on software. Hopefully the guys from Visual Concepts will start making sports games for the PS2. Someone needs to put 989 Sports out of their misery. NCAA Gamebreaker goes against all that is good. It teaches people to accept inferior products on supposedly superior systems. Sure, this would make a decent PS1 game but we all didn't shell out $300.00 and stand in line all night to play PS1 quality games. Did we all buy an N64 to play Super Nintendo games on? No. Or did we all buy a Super Nintendo to play original Nintendo games on. Nope. We all bought a PS2 to play PS2 games on. Although here lately you wouldn't have known it was anything more than an overpriced DVD player. I think I'll go watch The Matrix again.

By: Michael Wicks 2/9/01

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