In Electronic Arts' "NCAA Football 2006," only one thing matters: the Heisman Trophy.
Before kickoff, you choose a position and your virtual player attends summer camp, where he participates in drills and is awarded scholarships based on performance.
Running backs who dash through defenses or cornerbacks who blanket receivers will find a spot on a contender for the national championship. But if your virtual player is a quarterback who has more passes that land on the ground than in your receivers' hands, he'll be playing for a bad team -- or taking his chances as a walk-on at any school.
But what happens next makes "NCAA Football 2006" ($50 for Xbox, PlayStation 2) so much better than any of its predecessors. Each game presents the chance to become a college legend.
Have one good game, and your player will start receiving fan mail, but have three or four, and his dorm room will be upgraded with better furniture and he'll be identified as a Heisman Trophy contender. String together three great seasons and you can make your player eligible for the National Football League draft by downloading him into EA's "Madden NFL 2006," which comes out next month.
And that's the goal. Start as an unproven freshman and try to become one of the greatest players in the video game world. Because let's face it: Leading your team to the NCAA championship is nice, but it's also something that most experienced users have already accomplished.
This year's game has been completely upgraded, as players are detailed down to the stains on their kneepads, and their movements -- especially the ability to juke defenders -- are fluid. The game also excels by paying attention to the little things: the way the stadium lights reflect off players' helmets and how the roar of the crowd can affect players.
"NCAA Football 2006" didn't just tinker with last year's successful version, it overhauled it, making this year's game one of the best football games ever produced.
-- Jon Gallo