NCAA Football 13 Review
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NCAA Football 13 adds an exciting Heisman Challenge mode and some solid gameplay tweaks to make it one of the best games in the franchise's 20-year history.
- Playing the Heisman Challenges
- Solid passing mechanic upgrades
- Upgraded dynasty mode
- Graphic and audio glitches
- Missed Heisman opportunities
- Long load times
It must be hard to make sweeping changes to yearly-installment sports games because few developers stray from their tried and trusted formulas. Luckily for the NCAA Football franchise, the formula is quite strong. The gameplay is consistently smooth, the presentation feels like a television broadcast, and diehard college sports fans have plenty to dig their teeth into with recruiting for their favorite team. But does NCAA Football 13 warrant a purchase if you already own any of the previous years? That largely depends on your devotion to college football, and if you want to relive Heisman Trophy legends’ careers, and even put them on your favorite team.
What would Doug Flutie look like in a Syracuse jersey? I found out. What about Barry Sanders playing for UConn? It looked dumb, I can’t lie. But, Heisman Challenge is a highly addicting and enjoyable addition to NCAA Football. You get a several Heisman winners, including Marcus Allen, Andre Ware, Eddie George, Robert Griffin III, and Desmond Howard. You get a list of objectives to meet during a season—like throwing for a certain amount of yards and scoring touchdowns. The goals line-up with the individual players’ real life college careers, so if you are a fan of college football, it’s a blast to play through history.
If the basic concept sounds fun, the execution may deflate your balloon, but only slightly. Some of the challenges are extremely easy. If you are playing as a running back, for example, just about every play will go to you. Of course this makes the game actually fun, so we can’t complain that it’s boring, but it’s frequently too one sided, almost too easy. Dig a bit deeper and you’ll discover that some of the winners from the ‘80s had some incredible careers. For some, Heisman Challenge is where they’ll spend hours upon hours trying to beat records, set new records, and moving those legends into their favorite squads.
The mode, along with Road to Glory, comes with a new gameplay feature. Heisman players can use Reaction Time to slow down time, similar to Max Payne 3. The concept makes sense: these are the best players; they must have some edge over their competition. But I couldn’t help but feel this takes away from the realistic gameplay and presentation developer EA Tiburon tried to create. For me, this is a leave it alone feature. But if you are interested, know that it effectively slows-down time to give you the edge. You get those extra few seconds to line-up a perfect pass or dodge defenders.
The gameplay remains pretty strong, and new tweaks make the passing game more enjoyable. There are a ton of new throwing animations and quarterback dropbacks. There is also more freedom through Total Control Passion. This feature allows you to find holes in zone defense by using the left analog stick to carefully place your passes. In addition, there are 20 new pass trajectories. All of this sounds great on paper, but unless you play NCAA Football games like it’s your job, you probably won’t notice these tweaks. However, what you probably will notice if you’ve played other NCAA Football games is that this is the best passing in the franchise to date. Receivers quickly react on the sidelines and play action actually works this year.
The other end of the field is fairly weak. Defense is still boring and basics, like interceptions, seem random. Sure, I threw a few terrible passes, mistaking the stupid ref for a defender, but many times my receivers acted so relaxed it was like playing flag football. While the actual passing game is fun, catching the ball can be annoying. I couldn’t help shaking my head when my receiver missed a perfectly placed pass, only to see the pigskin bouncing through the hands of a defender. Of course, this could be really smart development as we are playing with ... (continued on next page)
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