We love it when developers take a risk, pouring their heart and soul into an underdog project when it’s clear that they love the subject matter. Black College Football The Xperience (BCFX) is obviously a labor of love, focusing on a small but vibrant aspect of college football that somehow doesn’t fall under the auspices of EA’s exclusive deal with the NCAA. Unfortunately, developer Nerjyzed doesn’t have anywhere near EA’s resources, and it’s apparent right from the start. BCFX has its heart in the right place – but that’s about it.
The on-field experience is a glitchy, stuttery, confused mess that struggles in every way. From snap to whistle, you’ll suffer from bizarre behavior that makes it impossible to get into any sort of flow. There are missteps galore, including magically teleporting footballs, brain-dead blockers and tacklers, even obvious mathematical errors in the stats. What’s more, the audio mix is a train wreck, as the blaring marching band music constantly steps on the PA announcer and play-by-play commentary, rendering it impossible to understand. It’s a shame, too, since the music is so good.
One of the differentiators that BCFX has is that it taps into the soul of these historically black schools – the marching bands and drum lines that are as much of the game as the action on the gridiron. BCFX tosses in a rhythm button-pressing game as part of the halftime ceremonies, and it’s surprisingly compelling. The marching band movements, formations, and music are impressive (even if you miss most of it while you frantically mash buttons in time) and doing a good job gets you tokens that can be used as powerups of sorts in the second half. However, it’s pretty lengthy and only fun the first couple of times. After that, you’ll wish you could skip it and not be penalized.
BCFX does what it can to honor its subject in many ways. The opening cutscenes show legendary Grambling coach Eddie Robinson watching over current coach Doug Williams, and there is a museum area you can peruse which is chock full of historical information about past events in the sport’s history. None of these help overcome a desultory football game, of course, but will educate you a little bit.
The only modes are exhibition games, a “Road to the Championship” season, and one-off marching band and drumline rhythm minigames. There’s no online play or multi-season dynasty options, either (not that we were exactly clamoring for more). We really, really wanted to like BCFX, as the idea of any kind of competition for EA’s NCAA monopoly is music to our ears. Sadly, BCFX simply isn’t anywhere near ready for the big time.
Oct 5, 2009