NCAA Football 13 PS3 Review
There are few times of the year when I get more excited, then when EA releases its annual offering of NCAA Football 13. This year, the recruitment aspect of the dynasty mode gets a new twist, but more importantly some of the biggest issues with past versions of the game have been addressed. Iím an offensive minded guy, even when I coach, I love offense. Defense is fun and all, but for me, itís always been about what goes on with the offenses that makes the games interesting. Defense is like a fine wine, where connoisseurs can watch the game and enjoy whatís taking place, but offense is like pizza, everyone likes it, and even it is isnít really good, itís still pretty fun... Anyone who watched this yearís BCS Championship game should understand exactly what I mean. When it comes to this game, they really do have a solid foundation here which does a pretty good job of balancing both offense and defense.
So, the major things that have been added to the game play itself may sound subtle, but they really do make all the difference in the world, not only in playability, but also replay value. This year, the team at EA Tiburon have added 20 new QB drop backs, 25 pass trajectory zones (areas where ball are thrown to on passing plays, as opposed to 1 last year). Since this is a bit harder to explain verbaly, here is a quick video:
Thanks to EA for the video
Several new pass animations for various situations including shovel passes, 400 + catch animations (which was great because there simply werenít enough in the past and this lead to broken plays simply because of a lack of animations for various situations like sideline catches, back of the end zone, and various leaping situations like fades), being able to cancel play action plays post snap, and probably one of my favorite additions, new hot routes which include block and go routes, as well as routes which change given situations, like the deep fly route that turns into a fade in goal line situations. Yet another under rated feature is that the controls for both Madden and NCAA this year follow Maddenís button configurations, making for symmetry between the two franchises. All of this makes for a really really fun offensive game in which you never really know what youíre going to get or see on nearly every play... Itís really quite refreshing.
On the defensive side of the ball, all is not lost, but gone are the days where the hit stick ruled the day, leaving the offense with the same old mechanics as before. There is extremely better zone coverage A.I., and the new passing system requires that the wide receivers be acutely looking at the QB before the ball is thrown, so QBs canít simply rifle the ball at a receiver three yards off the line on fly routes anymore, this adds more realism to the game and the playability as well, it isnít the vision cone, but in my opinion, itís the next best thing.
Another addition which affects the defense this year is also akin to this last point. Defensive players, not controlled by humans, will no longer make blind swats to break up plays. There's no indicator which shows if they're looking or not, as is the case with the passing, but thus far, it appears to work well wnough. This addition, plus the better zone A.I. makes calling plays a valid and conservative option in this yearís game, as calling a zone should be. Another feature, which works both for and against the offense this year, is the drop system. This system means that gone (or nearly gone) are the days of 20 yard drop backs or excessive scrambling outside of the pocket and throwing 80 yard bombs. If the QB isnít set, anything beyond maybe 20 yards isnít going to work, save for some very special players. This means that players have to stay in the pocket most of the time, giving the defenses a chance to pressure the QBs, as they should.
Now when it comes to this game, I havenít played all of the modes yet, like the new Heisman Challenge, or the updated Road to Glory mode. For me, this game lives and dies in head to head and Dynasty mode. Like EA did last year for Maddenís Franchise mode, they did a bit to improve this yearís Dynasty mode. The area that got the most attention was the recruiting mode. In years past, it was a simple matter of calling a player and making pitches, promises, visits and promises, rinse repeat. This year, they scaled back the amount of time that you have to call prospects, but theyíve added a scouting system which allows you to unlock specifics about the playersí skills. This leads to more strategy as you can go looking for gems, while avoiding busts or injury prone players.
Another addition is the ability to allow the prospect to choose one topic per phone call, this allows you to capitalize on the players interests, which results in more points for various pitches, even if your school isnít strong in a certain area. Recruitment aside, the presentation is still somewhat the same as itís ever been only that now thereís an ESPN ticker at the bottom of the screen which gives you updates around the nation of games taking place in the game, as well as having scoring updates that come up giving information on big wins, plays or scores. It really does make for a more immersive experience, though they really could do a lot more in the way of stats overlays, tale of the tape type match up information and things of this nature. But over all, itís still a pretty sweet game mode this year, and the recruitment now has another thing to keep you busy with in between games... Finding gems is truly a greatly rewarding thing.
Overall, there are still a few things which could be better, like clock management issues, and some collision detection improvements. But itís a solid addition for not only THE only college football game, but what in my opinion has always been a solid college football game. The one thing thatís missing, and maybe itíll turn out to be a good thing, is the new physics engine which EA will be introducing into Madden this year. Only time will tell if this, as I said, is a good thing or a bad thing. EA has a way of botching things the first year they introduce a new feature. But for right now, NCAA will be taking up my time and keeping me happy until both seasons start AND Madden comes out. All and all, keeping in mind that I didnít play all modes, Iíd still give this game somewhere in the area of an 8 out of 10. So while it isn't quite the BCS National Champion, it is still seriously good game that anyone wanting a solid game of pig skin should look at picking up sometime.
P.S. As a bonus, for people who want named rosters, here are two accounts which have pretty damn good free rosters with names, updates to appearances, transfers and what not.
PS: volstopfan14 (99% completed, but for offline only)
360: Geauxlden (work in progress, though apparently will work online when done)
They so stole the shovel pass from Romo
I'm still waiting for Madden 23, Avengers 6, and NCAA 54.
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