Stupid AI is as stupid AI does.
Adding to 989's list of anticipated titles that fail to deliver is NCAA Gamebreaker 2000. This is an easy to pick up and play game, that, while fun for a while, just can't compare to the more accurate and complete NCAA Football 2000 from EA Sports.
To be fair, NCAA Gamebreaker 2000 is fun to play. The controls are easy, as is the gameplay. The graphics are pretty, and the sounds of the stadiums and the announcer are exciting. As you play further, however, all of the elements that make the game attractive at first begin to show their faults and eventually hurt the replay value. NCAA Gamebreaker 2000 is like one-dollar Chinese food: it looks good, so you try it, but an hour later you'll be hungry for something else.
The setup for Gamebreaker 2000 is very similar to Football 2000. Gameplay options include Scrimmage (essentially Exhibition), Tournament season, Bowl season, Career mode (new to the Gamebreaker series, but commonplace for EA sports football), and a unique mode called Fantasy league.
Fantasy league is a clever addition to this football title, letting you designate point values (1-5) for various actions (30 yard passes, interceptions, QB sacks, etc.). As cool as this option is, it isn't exploited to the full extent. For example, more actions could be added to the special point scoring, such as running a kickoff for a touchdown or turning the ball over by performing an onside kick. Also, the Fantasy league should be integrated into the season, instead of being only an option in Exhibition games. However, this is an interesting new addition to video game football and should be applauded.
Gamebreaker 2000 is essentially an arcade-style football game. There is very little sim realism to get in the way of good old-fashioned video game football action. In this sense, football gaming beginners can get into this game just as easily as experts. In fact, beginners probably have a good shot at beating the experts in head to head matches. But where this is an asset in a game like NFL Blitz, it's a hindrance here.
Why? Well, a majority of players run with the agility and strength of Olympic sprinters and never tire, which means you rarely (if never) have to revise your play strategy. Though many have different ability attributes, their differences aren't significant enough to affect general play.
Unlike the realistic player model scaling in NCAA Football 2000, Gamebreaker 2000 contains no variation in player size and shape. Blockers look and behave like they're lean wide receivers. This brings up another fault in the design of Gamebreaker 2000 - players in the game can be controlled too precisely. Commanding heavier and slower players versus commanding the quick ones (such as tight ends and running backs) feels nearly identical.
On top of this, certain physics are screwed up. The balls have too much bounce, and the dive move for players is faulty. Instead of diving forward, the player will appear to trip and fall straight down, ignoring the fact that his momentum is carrying him forward. Guess he had one too many.
Though unrealistic, control is the area in which Gamebreaker 2000 is more intuitive than Football 2000. Gamers can pick sim control (meaning standard), or total control, where different button combinations can be used to perform more precise plays. Unique actions include diving over piles, shoulder charging, high stepping, and juking. This control feature is most useful in human vs. human matches, because taunting another person after a cool juke is a lot more fun than taunting your Playstation. And like other football titles, up to 8 players can compete with a multi-tap.
But damnit, just when you start to enjoy parts of Gamebreaker 2000, its faults rear their ugly heads. The AI is incredibly stupid. The game is a cinch to beat with most college teams, even on the hardest level settings. Computer players don't anticipate what plays you're going to perform, so you can literally use the same play through an entire game, and if the computer doesn't stop you the first time you use it, they never will. I believe that in one game, I used a play called 'Toss Left' non-stop, and the final score was me 89, them 54.
Like many other arcade type games, Gamebreaker 2000 always favors the offense. It's nearly impossible to stop running plays, a fact that is worsened by the insane ability of most players to break tackles. Shaking off 3 defenders by simply tapping Circle is common.
This insane cheapness is made incredibly apparent once you play against a human player. Passes to receivers mobbed by 3 defensive men are completed a majority of the time. You can grab most passes simply by jumping, even in the tightest situations. Add this to the AI problems and playing againts the computer becomes mundane at best.
With help from UCLA coach Bob Toledo, 989 Sports has created an entirely different play book from other football games. This means that there are none of the classic shotgun plays that gamers love. There is no 'Deep Outs,' no 'QB Waggle,' no 'Hail Mary'...oh the humanity! 989 would have been wiser to make radical changes in the gameplay department, not in the play book. By changing the plays, 989 Sports is again gearing the game away from football fans and more towards casual gamers.
Unfortunately, the depth of the game is hampered by the poor recruiting, which is merely an afterthought in the game. You pick a certain number of players available to you, and hope that the good ones will find their way onto your roster. The best sim feature in the game is the ability to save seniors on your memory card and transport them into the draft for the 989 Sports' game NFL Gameday 2000. But, I wonder how many gamers will want to pay 40 more dollars for another football title made by 989 Sports?
NCAA Gamebreaker 2000 is an arcade football game packaged in a sim wrapping. It tries hard to look realistic, but fails when it comes to actual gameplay. Good for a rental, but true football fans will want to look towards EA's NCAA Football 2000.