When it comes to game modes, NCAA 07 for the PSP is missing the Campus Legend mode, as well as the minigames featured in the console versions. That's the bad news. The good news is that Dynasty mode--the central component of NCAA 07's success over the past few years--is in the game; in fact, it's more or less the centerpiece of the PSP game's gameplay. Yes, you can spend some time with a rivalry or mascot game in NCAA 07, but with such a deep and rewarding Dynasty mode available to you, why would you want to? Dynasty mode is the real meat that college-football fanatics will want to sink their teeth into, and for the most part, it's a tasty meal indeed.
New control tweaks and camera perspectives help keep this year's game fresh.
Whether you're looking to take on a program from scratch and raise it up to the level of national prominence or continue the winning ways of a Texas or a USC, Dynasty mode continues to be one of the more compelling "general manager"-style modes in sports gaming. Forget dealing with salary caps and hot dog vending prices; in NCAA 07, your only job is dealing with high school talent and doing whatever it takes to get the five-star prospects to bring their game to your school. For the most part, the PSP presentation of NCAA 07's Dynasty mode is easy to follow and well organized. You'll always have access to your team's needs, so you'll know which positions need filling, and you get even better pitch feedback during the off-season, letting you know which subjects a recruit responds to and which ones he couldn't care less about.
Dynasty mode isn't always perfect. The weekly recruiting model, for example, could probably stand to be overhauled. As it is now, you have just five scant weeks to work with during the off-season--five chances to get your recruiting right, use up all your available scholarships, and woo the talent you wish to lure. After you've completed that week's activities, you simply move forward to the next week and repeat the procedure. A daily format, combined with some more specific feedback from recruits on your program's chances, would make a good thing even better. Certainly, the ability to recruit year-round helps and lets you always have your finger on the future of your team's roster, but we're still waiting for that really big Dynasty-mode makeover that reinvigorates the series' best gameplay mode.
The Xbox 360 version of NCAA Football 07 is certainly the graphical crown jewel of the series so far, but the PSP version is no visual slouch either. Though the player models aren't as sharp as you might expect, the game runs at a decent clip throughout. A few weird camera issues crop up from time to time--the camera never seems to get behind the player catching the ball fast enough when returning punts, for example--but for the most part, it's a good-looking game that has a respectable frame rate. It's too bad, then, that some of the stadiums found in the game are flat-out wrong--Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium and Washington's Husky Stadium spring immediately, and most egregiously, to mind--but the casual college-football fan might not even notice something like that. Then again, is there really such a thing as a "casual" college-football fan? The other half of the presentation equation--the game's sound--is a solid package. Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, and Brad Nessler have added new lines to an ever-growing collection of witty (and sometimes insightful) commentary; the college fight songs are a marked improvement from the standard EA Trax audio drivel; and the crowd chants sound enthusiastic, if not huge, as they support their favorite team.
We beat Alabama 48-3 in this game. Fear the thumb, suckers!
Online play via both infrastructure and ad hoc mode is functional, but inconsistent. For games played via ad hoc, the game performs fairly well--there's a little lag in the menus and during some plays, but nothing that's going to bog the game down. Sadly, this isn't always the case in infrastructure mode--where games can be hampered by frustrating performance. It's especially noticeable in the kicking game, where timing is everything. Furthermore, we experienced several cases playing in both ad hoc and infrastructure games where plays didn't unravel as they should (the quarterback missed a handoff) or the player we controlled simply stopped responding to input when running the ball. On the plus side, the game offers a number of different options when creating your game--skill level, home field advantage, evening team performance--that will help keep multiplayer games fresh.
In all, NCAA Football 07 is a good option for the devoted college-football faithful, and the PSP version brings more quality than quantity. Here's hoping future installments of the PSP series not only bring the game up to the console's standards in terms of sheer content but also make use of the inherent advantages of the handheld platform (such as letting you synchronize your dynasty between the PSP and console versions of the game). For now, it's nice to know that you can bring the passion of college pigskin with you, no matter where you go.