After months of anticipation, fueled by a frustrating last minute delay, College Lacrosse 2010 has finally arrived on the Xbox 360 marketplace. So was it worth the wait?
The last attempt at a lacrosse game on a major platform (2001’s Blast Lacrosse) was an epic failure. The players all looked liked a Mr. Universe contestant, jump kicking your opponents was not only legal, but encouraged, and the announcer sounded like he was ringside at Wrestlemania.
Considering the circumstances, whether or not CL2010 would raise the bar wasn’t the question, but rather how high the bar would be raised.
The game makes a good first impression with its $5 price tag. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I’ve spent a similar amount on games for my phone. While it’s likely that most XBoxing lacrosse players would have bought CL2010 for a little bit more, the super low price was a nice nod to the lax community.
When you first load up CL2010, you won’t be blown away with any bells and whistles on the main menu. Don’t let that fool you though, because scrolling through the options you’ll find that there are plenty of features. In addition to being able to take a team through season mode (complete with post-season tournament) you have the option of building your own team in a user created conference. Want to relive your high school years and run a train through your cross-town rival? This game lets you do it.
As you play the game you earn cash that can be spent on equipment upgrades. These upgrades travel with the user no matter what team they are controlling, and can improve anything from your shot speed to your stamina.
A lot of rules you might not expect to be included, such as only having 10 seconds to step in the box, have made their way in to CL2010. Unfortunately, all of the rules included are of the possession variety. You won’t have to spend 60 seconds in the sin bin if you treat your opponent’s helmet like a piñata. Therefore, there aren’t any man-up or man-down opportunities. Hopefully they can fix this in the next version.
I like the passing system, which makes it easy to find the man you are looking for while also giving the defense a chance to read your eyes. It’s no guarantee that you are going to connect on every one of your passes, but it’s not unnecessarily hard either. You have the option to set your guys up in a number of different formations, but unfortunately your teammates don’t necessarily run “an offense.” When dodging another player will come in to fill the area that you vacated, but it’s usually the man you are dodging towards.
The easiest way to get around your opponent is choosing the right time to start sprinting. However, you do have a few dodges at your disposal. I wish a split or face dodge would have been included, but for now your only options are the roll, the swim, and the “stutter step”, which I haven’t quite been able to figure out how to use effectively.
The 360 degree shooting stick is a little hard to get the hang of, but once you do, your shot percentage will skyrocket.
Tip: You wind up by pulling the right thumbstick away from the cage in relation to where you are on the field, and then pointing it towards the cage when you’re ready to fire.
Defensive options are fairly limited. You can either put pressure on the offense or bunch your guys up in to a makeshift zone. Just like the real game, if you play defense with your feet and put an emphasis on staying in front of your man, it hard for the offense to get a quality shot off.
I kept having flashbacks to my days in grade school playing NHL ’94 on the Sega Genesis. The players move like they are on skates. Suggestion for the future would be for the game play to more closely resemble that of the FIFA series.
Also, while the game is a lot of fun, it is a little too easy to master. After playing casually for a couple of days, I don’t feel like the computer will ever beat me. For instance, I took one of the lowest rated teams in the game up against one of the highest rated teams, and came away with a 27-2 victory. I fancy myself a pretty decent gamer but I’m no pinball wizard and it’s simply not all that challenging. If you’re looking for a close game, you better be playing against a friend.
Final Grade: A-
Considering the low budget, the low price, and the fact that this was the first attempt at a true field lacrosse game, I’m giving it an A-. The game is fun, and most importantly, has opened the door for further development of the lacrosse genre in the future.