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EA Sports returns to the gridiron for another season of collegiate competition with this "2005" edition of NCAA Football. In addition to offering the realistic graphics, engaging play, and attention to detail that many have come to expect from a game that's built on the best-selling Madden NFL engine, this year's NCAA Football is designed to accommodate the many emotional and environmental factors that influence the action on the field. The collective enthusiasm of a passionate crowd can be a significant factor in nearly any team sport, but it is especially powerful in college football.
Not only can the intangible inertia of an emotional stadium influence a game's momentum, but more substantial factors, such as crowd noise, or even the unsettling rumble of a thousand foot-stomping fans, can have direct effects on snaps and play-calling. Individual players may react differently as they run on field to the cheers and jeers of 100,000 over-excited fans, too, and smart gamers can turn this to their advantage using NCAA Football 2005's new "Match-Up Stick" feature. Coaches can now spot that nervous freshman tight end, for example, and perhaps gain the upper hand by matching him up against a seasoned senior linebacker.
Of course, "home field advantage" is not an automatic — visiting squads that can shut down an opponent on its own turf will take the crowd right out of the game, and perhaps even enjoy a few on-field advantages of their own. Either way, these emotional and environmental effects may be most drastic when competing in one of NCAA Football 2005's "Top 25 Toughest Places to Play," which include famous stadiums such as Florida's "Swamp," LSU's "Death Valley," and Michigan's "Big House." Nevertheless, the crowd can be a factor in the smaller stadiums and leagues as well.
As in previous editions, NCAA 2005 features a nearly comprehensive selection of major conference teams, as well as squads from more than 70 smaller 1AA schools. Crowds cheer realistically for their home team, no matter how large or small, but a number of higher profile squads may also see their fans performing signature celebrations in the stands, such as the "Gator Chomp" or "Texas Hook 'Em Horns." Once they have a feel for the new emotional flow of this year's college football game, PS2 and Xbox players can go online to compete against other EA Sports fans. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide