Hi NCAA fans, Brian Parker from EA SPORTS Game Changers here to share all the details about the newest feature in NCAA Football 13. Since 1935, the Heisman Trophy has been awarded to 74 different college football players judged to be the most outstanding athlete in a given season. The 25-pound bronze trophy is perhaps the greatest individual achievement any collegiate athlete can attain, and NCAA Football 13’s new “Heisman Challenge” mode is a testament to the importance of this yearly award.
It all starts with the cover of the game, featuring reigning Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor University as well as Barry Sanders, the 1988 Heisman Trophy winner – and former Oklahoma State Cowboy – whose legend continued into the NFL as a member of the Detroit Lions. As Griffin III prepares to begin his own NFL career with the Washington Redskins, NCAA Football 13 allows gamers to use both athletes—as well as many others—in an attempt to replicate or even surpass the impressive statistics of each player’s Heisman Trophy campaign.
During my time with a work-in-progress build of the game at a recent Community Event, I got to sample the mode using Barry Sanders. Since I was only 4 years old when Sanders was tearing up the turf in Stillwater, Oklahoma, much of my understanding of his 1988 season is left to video highlights and statistical records. Thankfully, EA SPORTS sat down with each of the athletes featured in the Heisman Challenge mode to record face-to-face video interviews, which are interspersed over the course of the season as you play. Sometimes the videos are triggered by surpassing one of the athlete’s records in your season, or just as a result of an upcoming rivalry game like the Bedlam Series between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. In each case, hearing the athlete describe the achievements of their Heisman season helps to understand the individual outside the lines, reflecting back on glory days.
That said, gamers need not feel restricted to only use Barry Sanders as a Cowboy; the Heisman Challenge mode allows any team to be selected for the Heisman-winning athlete, so Sanders could just as well end up wearing the crimson and cream of the rival Oklahoma Sooners. Maybe you want to see whether or not Sanders’ 42 rushing touchdowns from the 1988 campaign could be replicated against the stout defenses of today’s SEC; all you need to do is select a team like Florida or Alabama and find out for yourself. Maybe your goal is completely different: to see if you can double up on Barry Sanders’ college career high in rushing yards (2,850); suiting up for a team in a smaller conference might be just what you need as you run over hapless defenders.
Once you’ve decided which school you’ll be playing for in the Heisman Challenge, the mode presents you with a list of achievements from the athlete’s real-life Heisman Trophy season, which serve as your goals as you prepare to play through a full college football season. Progress towards these milestones is tracked from the Heisman Challenge hub menu—very similar to the menu found in Dynasty and Online Dynasty modes—and you’ll also be tracking your standings in the current Heisman Trophy rankings as you try to relive history and bring the Heisman Trophy home all over again.
In order to make you feel like you’re controlling a true Heisman Trophy-caliber athlete on the field, the development team for NCAA Football 13 has introduced a new gameplay mechanic for this single-player mode: Reaction Time. We’ve all heard it said before from the world’s greatest athletes: “Everything just seems to slow down out there.” With Reaction Time, the game really does slow down; holding the L2 button on Sony PlayStation 3 or the Left Trigger on Microsoft Xbox 360 will send the game into slow-motion and allow you to look for openings in the defense and perform skill moves to get into the open field. Running between the tackles with Barry Sanders against a soft opponent early in Oklahoma State’s season was impressive enough, but once I started using Reaction Time it was addictive to bait defenders, go into slow-motion and make use of the various “skill moves” on the right analog stick to clear my way through to a touchdown. Seeing the game play out in that reduced speed also helped me improve my vision in the running game in general, which carried over to more successful play in the other game modes of NCAA Football 13.
With two star athletes sharing the cover of this year’s game, the new Heisman Challenge mode presents a great opportunity for gamers young and old to learn more about some of the athletes who have hoisted college football’s iconic individual award. On July 10th you’ll definitely want to give this NCAA Football 13 game mode the old college try.