Customize your coach, conference, playbook and so much more.
It can be hard getting excited for an annual football franchise. Sure, there will be new players, new mechanics, and a new sheen to everything, but in reality, isn’t it just the same thing as last year? In the case of NCAA Football 12, the answer is “hell no.”
We already know that the presentation in NCAA Football 12 has been amped up this year with team traditions, the Georgia bulldog sitting on the sidelines, and so on. Still, there’s a lot left in this story, and it’s yours to write — particularly in the game’s Dynasty mode.
One of the first “professional” video game articles I ever wrote was bitching about how my alma mater Mizzou’s coach was a fat ass in the NCAA games but not in real life. Well, five years after publishing that insightful editorial, EA and Tiburon have responded and given players the ability to create their own coaches from scratch. You can modify looks, set ages and even pick an alma mater. Save these changes, and you can share them with the world and every mode in your game.
That stuff might sound cosmetic, but it plays into the cool changes in Dynasty mode. When you start, you can choose to go be the head coach of whatever school you like, but the real challenge is taking on one of the new offensive or defensive coordinator slots and working your way up to running an entire team. Yes, this year you can be one of the assistant coaches and manage just one side of the ball for entire games. Do well, and the shot at a head coaching job might pop up.
Monitoring how well you’re doing comes down to dynamic meters and annual goals. As your boys perform on the field, you’re going to be able to see how satisfied your school is with you. That’s not entirely new, but the change here is that each goal you’re assigned has a different weight. Winning your division is going to mean a lot to a smaller school, but Ohio State’s going to want that and a National Championship.
At the end of each season, the coaching carousel pops up and shows who has retired, who has been fired, and who has taken another job. This is your chance to see how things shake down for the school you really want to go to. Your prestige is obviously what schools are looking at when offering you a contract, but if you’re alma mater is on the market, it’ll be more attracted to you and likely to cut you some slack if your prestige isn’t rocking. Similarly, if your coach is getting ancient, don’t expect people to be beating down his door with offers.
I was a big fan of online Dynasty last year, and applying these coaching options to a group of friends is what really gets me excited. A Dynasty where we all start out as offensive or defensive coordinators puts a new spin on the competition, but it’s far from the only tweak. When you setup a Dynasty, you have control like never before — you can make and break conferences.
Now, sure, you could customize conferences in NCAA Football 11, but that was really just a swap. You could switch a team out of a given conference, but you had to put another in its place. This year, you can do whatever the hell you want. You can take the Big 12 and drop it down to four teams or go nuts and crank it up to 16. You can set it so that your conference only plays weekday games, name the divisions, and even mess with who gets to go to which bowl. NCAA Football 12 gives you the keys and lets you drive the game wherever you want it to go.
I can’t wait to see what this means for my online Dynasty with friends, but there are even more bells and whistles in that vein. Whereas last year I could go on the web at work and recruit players for my console-based team, this year I can go on and simulate games against the computer where I’m actually calling the shots. Rather than have to play the AI when I get home, I can play the game from my work PC — pick plays and even sub in players. I can watch the on-screen dots (it looks like when you watch a football game on summary on ESPN.com) move down the field during conference calls and make progress for my Dynasty. The league commissioner can even advance the week via the web this year.
I like NCAA Football as a series, but before, I felt like I could skip an iteration of the franchise if I had just bought the last one. I have NCAA Football 11, and there’s no doubt I’m getting NCAA Football 12. The changes EA has made this year speak to what I’ve wanted out of the game for so long — customization. I can’t wait to start an online Dynasty with my best friend and work our way up from lowly offensive coordinators to a National Championship coaches.
Plus, not having a really fat Mizzou coach by default will be sweet.
by Greg Miller