NCAA Football 12 Review
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A clean and realistic presentation with addicting game modes makes this game a must-have for college football fans.
- The excellent Road to Glory mode and advanced coaching system
- The crisp and authentic college game day presentation
- The solid collision system
- The spotty AI, which needs greater refinement
- The occasional visual hiccup
- The fact the gameplay feels a little stale
The NCAA Football franchise saw some notable improvements last year. With so much attention put into the gameplay and dynasty mode, it appeared EA Sports had found itself in a position where it would be unable to improve upon the formula for the 2012’s entry. On the surface, NCAA Football 12 has a respectable facelift. The new lighting offers dramatic effects on the field, casting deep shadows as the game drifts into the evening hours. The players and their uniforms look better than ever, and even the 3D grass effect is a welcome addition—although, you’ll only notice the enhanced turf during replays. But beyond that surface polish, EA Tiburon has improved upon what it got right in the 2011 version, and added just enough extras to give fans of the Saturday afternoon game day a reason to give NCAA Football 12 a try.
The casual football fan will likely pick up Madden instead of NCAA largely because of brand recognition, but if you live and bleed college sports, you have every right to put NCAA on a pedestal. EA Sports has tried very hard to capture that college athletic atmosphere with the return of the realistic ESPN broadcast, unique tunnel entrances and stadiums, and your favorite mascots. Everything about NCAA Football 12 is made to look, feel, and sound like a real game—all the way from the broadcast booth, to the muddy field and camera angles. There are still some issues in the visual department in that it’s not uncommon to see players run through each other or shadows mysteriously vanish, though these are relatively minor niggles.
Overall the presentation works quite well, but there is one massive element missing from that authentic feeling. The crowds lack any depth, uniqueness, and they show virtually no emotion. I say massive because they take up a fair amount of the screen, but in reality it’s not something you will dwell on. Sure, you can still pump the crowd and earn their audible support, but don’t expect to see the crowd lining up to do the wave, and don’t look for more than three or four different spectator avatars. This is such a petty complaint, but as you read on you’ll see that there isn’t all that much wrong with the game; rather, there’s just a few things that were left out that keep it from offering the perfect college football experience.
Beyond that killer presentation the upgraded collision system works quite well. Just like with FIFA 12, it’s clear that the EA is trending towards more attention paid to individual body parts, joints, muscles, and what should happen when two unmovable forces collide. There is just enough precision to the collision system to make it unnoticeable, but that just means it works well. It’s not more realistic when your halfback rolls around lineman and is hit from the left side by a safety. If he’s caught high enough, he’ll go down. But, if that halfback manages to take one small step ahead of that safety, he may simply stumble and make a break from the end zone.
The gameplay is virtually untouched outside of that collision system. It’s still remarkably easy to run the ball and perform simple moves with the analog sticks—a system I think more sports games should pay attention to. It’s hard to fault a game for not changing the gameplay when it wasn’t broken, but I hope next year we see more effort put into the actual game mechanics instead of the game modes.
And this is where NCAA Football 12 shines. The online trash-talking of last year's dynasty mode sets the groundwork for the 2012 version. This year we get a deep system that puts players in the role of a coach. So what, you say? Well, it’s done extremely well and is one of the best examples of finding entertainment on the sidelines. I typically dislike coaching or managing in any sports game, not including FIFA, but NCAA Football 12 is all about customization and role playing—yup, you read that right. You get to create the conference, team, plays, you name it. You can start as either a defensive or offensive coordinator, sign a contract, recruit your team, earn some credibility as you complete various goals, and eventually move around the country ... (continued on next page)
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