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NCAA Football 12

VIA:GI

NCAA Football 12

At The Top Of Its Game

TSG Rating 9.2 
GI Rating 9
IGN 8.5
GamesRadar: 9
Da Gameboyz: 9
PlanetXbox9.4
user rating 8.7
  • NCAA bolsters its game by giving Dynasty and Road to
    Glory modes a backbone by making coaches more prominent in both
  • Graphics:The new lighting system is noticeable while you’re
    playing as well as in replays. The 3D grass, however, is largely irrelevant
  • Sound:It sounds weird, but I miss third booth man Lee Corso.
    The booth sounds dull with just Kirk Herbstreit and Brad Nessler, and there are
    still comments that seem out of place
  • Playability:The improved tackling and catches fix those legacy
    issues, but the game doesn’t feel dramatically different
  • Entertainment:Despite the variety of improvements, the most
    exciting new feature is the ability to create custom conferences and mess around
    with the BCS bowl tie-ins
  • {review system }
  • ConceptWhat new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are
    presented.
  • GraphicsHow good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or
    pop-up.
  • SoundDoes the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you
    resolve to always play with the volume down?
  • PlayabilityBasically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the
    hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
  • EntertainmentFlat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in
    rating a game.
  • Replay Value
    • High – You’ll still be popping this game in five years from
      now.
    • Moderately High – Good for a long while, but the thrills
      won’t last forever.
    • Moderate – Good for a few months or a few times
      through.
    • Moderately Low – After finishing it, there’s not much
      reason to give it a second go.
    • Low – You’ll quit playing before you complete the
      game.

The year after a championship can be tricky. You may be the team to beat, but
you still have a long road ahead of you as you try to recapture that magic. Last
year, EA came out with a great college football product that captured the
feeling of the sport. NCAA 12 builds upon NCAA 11 with a list of improvements,
but how much better is it?

Going into this review, I was most interested in NCAA 12’s promise to fix the
magnet tackles and catches from years past. For the most part, developer EA
Tiburon succeeded, yet the game feels much like it always has. The new tackling
button doesn’t create unrealistic whiffs, nor does the catch button facilitate
unbelievable grabs. You won’t see wide receivers slide across the field towards
the ball or tackle animations engage too soon. True multi-defender gang tackles
don’t occur, either, although they look better than they did last year because
multiple defenders can throw their weight around to change the trajectory of the
runner.

Enhanced Tackling Engine

The franchise’s improvements, however, are balanced by an ongoing problem –
the AI’s lack of ball awareness. While I’m glad that receivers don’t magically
shoot forward to make catches, there are times when the opposite happens – the
ball sails by them and they don’t even put their hands up to catch it. The AI’s
ball awareness improves as you move away from the default difficulty, but even
then you’ll see the occasional defender letting the ball carrier run by without
attempting a tackle or an AI QB make some glaringly bad throwing choices. At
least defenders are more aggressive, moving fluidly in their zones, jumping
passes, and providing tighter coverage in general.

NCAA’s gameplay wrestles with the constant process of improving the past, and
I think Dynasty Mode’s new Coaching Carousel reveals a need to update the
series’ recruiting component. The Coaching Carousel lists goal-based
expectations that influence your coaching prestige and keep you gainfully
employed. This provides more structure to Dynasty mode, but it didn’t change how
I went about my business. Recruiting was renovated just last year, but I wish
the points you get for talking to recruits were more spread out and distinct
(right now you can get a similar amount of points for seemingly disparate
answers) and that recruiting encompassed the physical and mental traits of
players instead of just discovering whether they like the campus weight room.
Improving recruiting could take the coaching experience to the next level.

Road to Glory’s additions are more numerous than the Dynasty changes, but
stop short of being a full overhaul. Earning coach’s trust through your play and
working your way up the depth chart isn’t hard, and I have mixed feelings about
the mode. It’s fun to upgrade your player and unlock the ability to call
audibles, but that’s all stuff that I wish I had from the beginning.

NCAA 12 is better than NCAA 11, and yet I feel like we’ve come to the point
in the series’ lifecycle where the changes – while all worthwhile – are getting
harder to notice. Perhaps that’s because of all the hard work has already been
done. Consider the game’s online dynasties, which are already full-featured
enough that one of its main new additions – being able to sim ahead a week from
your computer – is an optional pay-to-play feature. When things are going this
good, it seems insane to ask for an overhaul of some core features like
recruiting. But as they always say in football, you’ve got to fight for every
yard

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