Year after year, we hear about how the Gameday series has been revived and how this could be the year in which Gameday would become a top-notch football title. But then the less heard about and the lesser known NCAA Gamebreaker was released along side it with little to no hype, and usually for good reason. This year is more of the same for the Gamebreaker series, it quietly released along side Gameday and in fact isn’t even much of an improvement from last season.
Similar to the Gameday series, Gamebreaker is a series that was pretty successful on the PlayStation but has had a rough transition to the PS2. The game started out on the PS2 just plain bad, and although has shown improvements over the years, it’s still not enough to put the series over its more successful rivals. Now that Gamebreaker 2004 has released, there are more disappointments and more of the same old frustration that we have had in previous years.
NCAA Gamebreaker 2004 has a total of 117 Division 1-A schools for you to choose from, along with thirty classic teams, as well as the ability to create your own team. Gamebreaker hosts a pretty standard list of game modes, ranging from Practice, Scrimmage, Bowl Season, Tournament Season, Career Mode, and Online. The Bowl Season is basically exactly how it sounds; you play through a season and depending on how well you doing you get invited to a bowl game. The tournament mode is about the same thing where you can go through a season with a team and enter one of the ending tournaments at the end of the season.
The Career Mode in Gamebreaker is actually very nicely done, and that is mainly due to its depth. You start at a small school in hope to lighting a spark to try and get coaching jobs at bigger and better schools. If you are successful at the beginning, you will start to get job offers from schools, which will then allow you to move onto bigger and better things. You must be careful to choose the right schools, and to not be too picky because there are times where you will just lose all offers and be stuck at a particular school.
The online mode in NCAA Gamebreaker is very similar to that of Gameday 2004, which is very impressive. The online mode is very customizable and is set up very nicely. There are leagues, chat rooms, buddy lists, and a lot of features that really make this a solid online mode. The play online is pretty solid as well, I found that most of my games were pretty smooth. As long as you find some one with a good connection, you can get pretty smooth games going.
Similar to Gameday, you can put your SOCOM headset to good use in this game, with the ability to call plays. And even though on paper this sounds great, and for a while it’s a fun little toy, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to make this system worthwhile to use.
The gameplay of NCAA Gamebreaker 2004 is where things start to get a little scratchy and disappointing. The Gamebreaker 2004 had some problems widt consistency, mainly in the passing game where big passes seem to be caught and dropped at weird times. It seems like when you are wide open and you drop the pass, and when you are in triple coverage you seem to make amazing catches.
Basically Gamebreaker 2004 feels incomplete and a little rugged around the edges. The game doesn’t run at a smooth pace like other football games on the market. It is hard to explain the overall feel of the game, but simply this game doesn’t have that polished feel that EA Sport’s NCAA series has exuded over the years.
One of the biggest issues that really plagued the Gamebreaker series since its appearance on the PS2 is the graphics, which has been struggling to get up to par with the other football titles on the market. With NCAA Gamebreaker 2004, you are given a game with some upgraded graphics from previous years, but it still is nowhere near where the series should be at this point in its life-cycle.
As we look at Gamebreaker as a whole, there is just not much to brag about. Compared to last year’s edition, there has only been some slight upgrades in the players’ designs, and a few other minor improvements here and there that really haven’t done enough to further enhance the series.
Overall there is still a lot of work to be done to get the series’ graphics back on track. With everything looking decent before the snap, and hectic after the snap, there is just a lack of consistency in the game, and that in the long run hurts it quite a bit.
The one thing about college football games that separates them from the NFL titles, is the fact that most of the time they are a lot more fun. College football can be much more explosive, and they plays use a lot more trickery in the college level. For example everyone knows and loves the college option plays and those usually are what really help make college football games fun. In Gamebreaker’s case, there is some fun to be had, but when you know there are better college football games out there, it is just hard to appreciate anything in the game.
NCAA Gamebreaker 2004 has been updated and upgraded from the last year’s edition, but there still needs to be some modifications to the games engine to make this a better interpretation of the sport. We should all just hope that 989 Sport can find that the current path they are on is not working and that they are going to seriously need to do some good things to get this series going again. Gamebreaker is worth a rental but anywhere past that would just be a waste of money.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.