Posted on July 21, 2012 AT 07:57pm
It’s that time of year again. The annual installment of NCAA football has arrived, and this year, it’s all about the largest individual piece of hardware in college football, the Heisman trophy. Featuring both the 2011 winner and number 2 overall pick in the NFL draft, Robert Griffin III, and the 1998 winner, Hall Of Fame running back Barry Sanders as cover athletes, this game looks like it’s eager to deliver all the excitement and atmosphere that has made college football such a popular sport.
The yearly release of the game has been met with less and less enthusiasm, as year after year, a full price product is released, with very little in the way of improvements. Sure, there has been some improvements in graphics and the tackling system, but basically, it’s been the same product each year, aside from updated rosters and new players on the cover. This year, however, there has been some additions. Not all improvements, but at least the folks over at EA are trying, for once.
There are all the major game modes, as well a brand new one to keep fans interested. There is, as always, the single game modes, which act as simple exhibition games for fans to get a quick fix in either single player, or online. There’s also the staple single player modes, with Dynasty Mode (also available through online play with friends) and Road To Glory mode, which allows players to create their own personal rising college star, guiding their avatar through high school, all the way through the full college football experience at any desired position. Added to this is the Heisman Challenge, where legendary players such as Griffin, Sanders, Doug Flutie and the polarizing Tim Tebow (who is one of the many players available in this mode through downloadable content) are taken back through their Heisman winning seasons, this time, on any time the player chooses.
There is little in the way of improvement in Road To Glory, save for the new position battle system, which allows players who are not in a starting role to, after gaining the trust of their coach, challenge the next string until gaining their place as the starter. Dynasty Mode got a bit of a menu overhaul, as well as the added ability for digital coaches to scout players they are recruiting, getting accurate core attributes for each player. Numerical ratings are also given to each player, which go up or down based on scouting. This takes a bit of the fun out of the recruiting process, but gives players the ability to get ore detailed with their recruiting process, which evens it out a bit. Also added into the Dynasty Mode is the ” ESPN Studio Update”, which gives players updates on the scores of other games throughout their own. This, added to the score ticker at the bottom of the screen is made to add to the realism of the game, but the updates comes far too frequently, interrupting the game to relay news every five plays, roughly.
The passing system has been given a bit of a makeover too, allowing player controlling the quarterback to lead receiver in the direction they choose, which makes passing a bit smoother. Also added into the new features is something called “Reaction Time”, which available in both Heisman Challenge and Road To Glory modes. This feature taps into the thought that players, when confident and skilled enough, can use their heightened reaction times to slow things down, allowing them to see things on the field with greater ease. This is a pretty interesting feature, although it doesn’t work as well as intended, usually. Most of the time, as a runner, at least, it allows the player to watch themselves get tackled in slow motion, instead of using a move to get by the would-be tackler. Good addition, however, when used properly.
Online play has been one of the weaknesses of the EA Sports games for years, and this year is no different. While the presentation is as good as always, lag is significant and frequent, leaving major time between plays where players just walk around the field, and at times, freeze the game mid-play for a few seconds, which can completely throw the play out of sync and cause problems. Fixing connectivity and lag issues should be the main focus by EA Sports through future updates.
NCAA Football ’13 does exactly what it should for fans of the sport: gives a realistic and fun experience, allowing fans to play as their favorite teams or players and lead them to glory. Adding in the Heisman mode was a good move, and some of the other changes, while sometimes hit or miss, are at least an attempt at innovation, something the franchise sorely needed. Adding in updated rosters with real player names instead of numbers would be appreciated, but at least they allow for fans to create the accurate rosters through their Team Builder mode. With the ability to export draft classes and players to Madden NFL ’13 (which is one of the major selling points for the game), NCAA Football ’13 does what it always has, but aside from a few additions, not much else.
The Good: New Features Are Innovative, Passing System Much Smoother
The Bad: Online Play Lags And Slows Down Often
The Ugly: Studio Updates Given Far Too Often
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