2011-07-11

NCAA Football 12 – Same Game But Prettier

by Yo Snyder

Okay, full disclosure. I’m more of Broncos fan than I am a Buffaloes
fan (although I did grow up watching Air Force games at the Academy), so
when it comes to football, I enjoy the pros more than college football.
That preference also translates into the video game world, where I get
far more enjoyment out of Madden football than the NCAA football
franchise. Still, the college version of the game has often had some
gameplay and other elements that I enjoyed more than Madden (their
online Dynasty mode has been consistently superior to Madden’s online
franchise mode), but I still only play NCAA Football for about a month
until the big boys in the pros come along. Still, I do enjoy the
occasional college game, and there’s no denying that EA’s NCAA Football
has been a solid game in recent years, and this year’s version looks
like it’ll carry on that tradition in fine form.

As a matter of
fact, tradition is a big part of this year’s edition. One of the biggest
changes and added flourishes is a show of the various teams’ pre-game
traditions. Whatever it is your team does before heading out onto the
field, you’ll find it in this game. The demo features Oregan vs. Texas,
so you’ll see the Longhorns pat the…uh…longhorns as they leave the
locker room, and you’ll even see some cowboys wrangling a longhorn steer
on the field. While all of this is nice and definitely adds to the
flair of the proceedings, really making it feel like a college game, I’m
curious to see how quickly all of this pomp and circumstance will get
old. After all, I want to play football, and seeing this same pre-game
ritual every time I start a game could get tiresome. We’ll see how that
plays out in the full version here in the next few weeks.

A few
of the other improvements noticeable in the game. The ESPN brand is much
more integrated into everything; more than ever, this feels like a game
being broadcast on TV. Presentation is a big part of the immersion
factor, and it looks as though this year’s game is going to do a great
job with that. The graphics have been tweaked. The stadium is absolutely
saturated with gorgeous sunlight, which for some reason really adds to
the college atmosphere. Grass is fully 3-D rendered, which looks nice.
Tackle animations have been altered and everything runs very smooth. For
the most part, the changes in the game appear mostly cosmetic, and
aside from the improved tackling and some defensive A.I. tweaks (in Zone
defense, the players do a better job of handing off coverage as opposed
to rigidly staying in their assigned zone), the gameplay on the field
feels very familiar. It feels good and plays really well, but doesn’t
feel that much different from last year.

The demo also highlights
some other things that have changed in the full version. There’s a new
coaching carousel in Dynasty Mode that sounds like fun. You can also
customize conferences and much more in the newly tweaked Dynasty Mode.
The Road to Glory Mode has finally been updated after the cut and paste
job from the previous years. Now there are more RPG elements and you’ll
have to work more to grow and advance your player. It sounds cool, but
we’ll let you know.

From the demo I can tell you that things look
great, the game plays as well as ever, and the new flourishes to the
presentation add to the whole college atmosphere. Whether or not tweaks
to The Road to Glory or the Dynasty Mode will help make this the best
version of NCAA Football yet remains to be seen.