For the past few years I have been reviewing NCAA football and telling fans that football really doesn’t get any better. Ok, I’m sure all you Madden fans have something to say about that last comment but no matter how you look at it NCAA has become the champ of video game pigskin. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an NFL junkie and I enjoy Madden just as much as the next guy but over the last few years I believe NCAA has slowly surpassed the gridiron giant.
After what seemed like eternity, I have finally gotten my hands on “NCAA 12″ and without time to spare – I need my football fix. “NCAA 12″ has officially become my football game of choice. I will say that “NCAA 12″ doesn’t break any molds from last year’s gameplay but what it does do is add to what was already great. Other than just offering a fantastic game of football, “NCAA 12″ adds to the college atmosphere which is essentially a major part of Saturday afternoon ball and EA nails it.
The first thing you will notice is the graphics and animations which received a very nice facelift. Granted there really wasn’t anything wrong with last year’s game but EA pushes the envelope so hard that you would swear that you’re watching a real game. I know I’ve made that comment in the past but we are beginning to reach a point where graphically I’m not sure how much better games can actual grow. This is a point where I would swear that there are live players out on that field and acting if they have a mind of their own. There will be plays where a receiver makes a catch, loses his balance and steadies himself with his hand without falling to the ground. Sometimes you’ll see a linebacker wrap up a running back and literally throw him backwards insuring he doesn’t get those extra yards or perhaps a quarterback blind-sided so badly that the ball seems like it landed on the sidelines.
It’s so hard to concentrate on a strategic match up sometimes since you’ll find yourself too busy watching the replays because the animations are so brilliant.
“NCAA 12″ returns, as always with all the game modes you’ve loved from last year. Had EA Tiburon stopped at simply tweaking the gameplay I would have been impressed with but the developers didn’t stop there. Not even close. The list of new features includes a full coach mode complete with a broadcast camera angle, the ability to create custom playbooks and a revamped Road to Glory mode that allows for a full high school season and the option of playing both sides of the ball. However, I would have to say the biggest additions were saved for Dynasty mode. For the first time, players have the freedom to tailor their “NCAA 12″ experience to their liking with conferences that can be completely realigned with as many as 16 teams or as few as four. Bowl tie-ins can be edited, even for the BCS games. Everything from the names of divisions to which days of the week games are played on can be changed either prior to starting a Dynasty or during the off season once your Dynasty is under way.
The other major addition to Dynasty mode this year is the Coaching Carousel. When you begin your Dynasty, you can choose to sign on as a head coach, offensive or defensive coordinator. Playing as a head coach gives you full control over your team once the ball is kicked off but coordinators can only call plays for their side of the ball. Each job has specific stat-based goals attached to it and reaching those goals helps maintain your job security. Perform well and your current school may give you a contract extension or another school could step in with an offer. Fail to meet your goals and you could find yourself looking for work elsewhere. A great addition to make Dynasty mode fresh and new.
As far as the audio is concerned, “NCAA 12″ is rock solid. The game’s sound is an excellent complement to the superb graphics. The developers managed to duplicate that college football feeling to perfection. Everything from the authentic commentary by Brad Nessler, Kirk Herbstreit, sideline reporter Erin Andrews, and along with each school’s marching band truly shines. College football has never sounded this good and it adds a level of intensity that you’ve never felt before. Never has then been a better excuse to turn up your surround sound to experience that ultimate college atmosphere.
There is no better football experience than what you’ll get with “NCAA 12.” Yes, Madden does pack an impressive package itself but the reality remains that many Madden football fans pass up EA Sports’ NCAA Football game year after year and I am guessing they make the assumption they are not missing out on their pigskin needs. The truth is – they are.
Over the years NCAA has slowly been working its way up to Madden and this year it’s poised to take the ring from the reigning champ.