Did you pick up EA's new college football game? Of course not. You wouldn't be reading this right now if you had. You'd be so busy designing high school uniforms for your virtual doppelganger that you'd probably forget to eat.
It's been awhile since I've played an up-to-date version of one of EA Sports' football games and it's good to know that they continue to push the envelope on massive time wasting. There are so many options and modes and mini-games, that you can get lost in this thing forever and never find your way back out. Would you like to simulate 60 years worth of a college football dynasty? Why not! Who needs family and friends? (But first personalize every player in the game by choosing from one of 30 different faces.)
I can't even begin to fathom the time commitment required to master every level of this game. There's dynasty mode, which requires a Kiffin-like dedication to slander and innuendo to woo digital recruits to your team. There's online dynasty mode, where you create your own fake schools and earn them accreditation, like the University of Phoenix. There's a massive online competition that will take place during the real college football season, where the games you play at home somehow win prizes and glory for your favorite school in real life. Oh, and there's an actual football game in there somewhere.
There's also a single-player career mode that allows you control an individual player from his high school state playoffs to college graduation. I think I like this one the best because it really captures the torment and endless soul searching that comes from being a fifth-string running back on a Big Ten also-ran. When I say control the player, I mean you control his life. You go to practice every day, you have to decide whether he goes to the library or the gym in the evenings, and you're not even guaranteed playing time. Now that's realism.
The other thing I like about career mode is that you don't have to call your own plays, because I barely understand the playbooks as it is. On the rare occasions when I was playing an actual game, I was completely flummoxed by the various schemes, particularly on defense. (There was no way in hell I was pulling off a "defensive hot route." What is that?) I'm going to need at least another month of two-a-days to get this stuff down. I didn't do this much homework when I was actually a college student. Fortunately, there's a "family" (i.e., dumb guy) mode for old people with bad hand-eye coordination like myself.
I have no doubt that you could play this game for weeks without ever participating in a full football game and you would still not run out of features to mess with. Even more amazing, you wouldn't get bored. If you like that level of minutiae and nerd-ery then you will definitely get your money's worth.
Since I obviously have no idea how to play or review video game, would those of you who don't have the game yet like to know more? Tell me what you'd like to know or see and I'll try to figure it out this weekend and report back. And if you do have the game, feel free to share your tips and tricks in the comments. Help me, help you.
[Images from EA.com]