on July 9, 2013
Coming off two very weak efforts EA Sports needed to reestablish the NCAA Football franchise as something other than an also-ran to Madden. What used to be an innovative series has been anything but in recent years - and when trying for new features they've failed miserably with the implementation and their assessment of what consumers truly desired out of the product.
While NCAA Football 14 doesn't break any new ground actual effort is immediately recognized in areas that have desperately needed it. The challenge from the CPU - which can now execute all manner of plays - along with the physics engine and incredibly responsive player control makes the game fun again.
Debuting in NCAA this year is the "Infinity" engine physics that were first found in Madden NFL 13. The physics have been refined limiting the number of goofy looking pileups and players tripping over one another. There is still some of that but they're more easily overlooked. The benefit to gameplay though far outweighs those occasional oddities. Each play feels much more dynamic and the outcomes appear far more realistic.
The CPU AI is one of the biggest advancements made with NCAA Football 14. The CPU runs a wide variety of plays well - ones that it had always failed at in the past - and operates more true to the styles of each individual school. I've been absolutely gashed on the ground by an up-tempo pro style running team and had trouble stopping a team that primarily ran the triple option. The CPU QB just makes much better decisions. Users are also able to utilize a number of plays that had never worked in the past and that really opens things up to more creativity and variety.
Blocking improvements drive the success seen in the running game. Though there are instances where a blocker will break off prematurely to go after someone on the next level those haven't been too frequent. Whether at the line of scrimmage or downfield the blockers can be trusted much more. That, along with the exceptional player control, makes running the ball immensely enjoyable. Controlling the ball-carrier with the left stick is really all one needs to cut or make guys miss - but the right stick also offers up a number of combo moves.
A few other gameplay related notes: running the read-option is an absolute blast, there has been encouraging push by defensive tackles to create interior pressure, the presence of an actual pocket for the QB is great to see, and the new Coordinator camera angle is a nice option to have - I just can't commit to it since it isn't in Madden. My main takeaway gameplay wise is that I'm able to play the game the way I have always wanted to, go heavy in the run game and utilize movement in the passing game, and the competent CPU presents a unique challenge in every game.
While gameplay has seen dramatic advancement one area that notably lags behind is the presentation and atmosphere. This has been a weakness of the series that has yet to near an acceptable level. Commentary is more stale than ever, post-play scenes are better but still don't completely mesh with the idea of TV presentation, and the atmosphere just doesn't live up to what is expected from game day. It doesn't even come across as well as it can on TV let alone for those who experience it in person.
As far as Dynasty mode goes I'm not deep enough in to analyze the effects of the changes but so far like the simplified process in recruiting. Getting rid of what some will still feel was depth - truly it was artificial depth that made things tedious and few fully understood - was a good move. The skill trees for coaches is intriguing (tying in goals and point accumulation) as are the scouting effects and planning of campus visits while custom playbooks being brought in was a crucial move. The in-game Dynasty related presentation such as the new halftime show to go with the studio updates and bottom line ticker all add to the feel that the games are important and part of a bigger world.
The streamlined menu navigation and quicker loading times may be overlooked by some but it is a vast improvement over what has been arguably the most sluggish sports game this generation in those areas. No longer am I dreading firing up the game and moving through the menus.
Another valuable addition worth mentioning is the Nike Skills Trainer. EA has managed to create a tutorial that not only teaches well but is challenging to complete and has some rewards at the end in the form of Ultimate Team cards. I managed to get a feel for things like the Triple and Shovel Options that I never bothered to try and figure out in the past and now may choose to integrate in my gameplans and custom playbook.
Authenticity remains a problem with NCAA Football 14. It's astonishing how many uniforms are missing and stadium renovations not reflected. The new Husky Stadium isn't even in the game which makes playing as Washington far less appealing for me. I've actually hunted for different teams to use solely because of that and it's a bummer. For the most part only fans of the teams are likely to notice such specific omissions but there are a hell of a lot of fans of teams who are missing something. These are not things that sprung up as last second surprises but rather have been ignored, dismissed, or overlooked. EA will have difficulty hooking consumers for the long term when they fail to pay the proper attention to the specifics of each program.
Some issues spotted in early play include safeties stopping their drop back and coming forward when they shouldn't - allowing for deep routes to be wide open. This seems to occur primarily when multiple receivers are going deep (hail mary and four verticals as examples). There are some reports of turnovers in the end zone resulting in a touchdown or ball placement on the wrong 20. The CPU almost never (I've yet to see it happen with 40+ games started) chooses to receive when they win the coin toss. Also somehow it's 2013 and there still are no surprise onside kicks despite that being a legitimate strategy coaches have at their disposal and attempt from time to time.
Ultimate Team has a lot interesting ideas that have been implemented but it falls short with some of them either due to limitations or aspects that went overlooked. Having professional players and some legends re-created as their college selves is pretty neat - and legendary teams comprised of them are cool to go up against. The number of players who look nothing like themselves, not being able to challenge friends to head-to-head games, and the inability to see how the opposition's team shapes up hurts the mode though.
Despite the deficiencies the bottom line is that the fun factor is back with NCAA Football 14 thanks to the gameplay enhancements and changes in Dynasty. Two troubled iterations are now in the rear view mirror and this one has at least stepped back into adequate territory and may resonate far better than that with many. Other thoughts will be included after additional time is spent Dynasty, online play, and the new Ultimate Team mode.
on July 24, 2013
Look, by now you either know what NCAA Football and Madden are or you're probably not interested. They're football video games. This is more of that. If I hadn't lost last year's version in a move, I would have regretted this purchase.
In this version, EA crammed in four new features that I can think of, though I'm sure EA marketing can think of more:
1) Trading Cards
The trading cards are a dumb gimmick, but if you've ever wanted to collect electronic trading cards featuring former college athletes, well, I guess you might like them. It's part of a new mode featuring online and single-player games that let you build a custom team. If you say 'well isn't that kind of what Dynasty mode was already?' you'd be right.
2) RPG-Style Coach Skill Trees
This is my favorite new part of the series, but mostly because I think an RPG-Sports genre bender sounds amazing. You level up your coach and can follow a skill tree, choosing to be better at different aspects of your game. Not that deep, but at least novel.
3) New physics engine
For all the hype, their new physics engine is horrible. They tout 'bone-crunching tackles' and et cetera, but in reality what has changed is that you will regularly see players falling all over each other after a play is over and achieve never-before-experience levels of frustration as your dumb AI lineman trips up your HB more effectively than ever before.
4) A tutorial (finally)
Another definite positive. These games have long been inaccessible unless you already know everything about football, and their clear disregard for people who just want to learn the game was always baffling. Finally they've added a tutorial, though from the blatant ad placement it seems that Nike actually led the effort. It'll teach you when to do what and why and then let you practice, and it's great. If, though, you already know the stuff, don't expect 20 reps of an option play to be too fun.
Another new feature for this year: Now includes a bug that causes Kirk Herbstreit to continually mock you (in the same voice clips from last year) for going for it on fourth down, regardless of whether you do so.
Look, the rules of football haven't changed much since last year. If you want a new version of the same tired football game that asks for $60 and then spams you with pleas for microtransactions and in-game advertisements, this is for you. If you already have last year's version, don't get it. EA needs to stop this annualized garbage until they decide to actually innovate.
on July 9, 2013
Its another year of NCAA Football. I had the pleasure of getting to play this game since Friday with the EA Sports Season Ticket Package. This is my last year having EA season tickets since I'm not sure what system I will be playing NCAA on next year. Anyway let's talk about football....
This is it for current generation consoles. I don't see things getting much better for the NCAA franchise until the next generation systems really start to blossom. The gameplay is very similar to last years. This year there is more emphasize on smoother running animations than anything else. Juke moves look more natural than ever and spin moves still work to well. The graphics look the exact same as the last 2 years. Nothing improved at all. I managed to make it through 2 seasons of Road to Glory and 2 season of a Dynasty over the weekend and both modes feel the same as last year with a few dynasty mode changes... In Dynasty mode the recruiting is streamlined. Instead of making phone calls every week you simply allocate points to each player that carries over from week to week. No more talking to each player about special things your school is known for. Honestly I think it's almost too dumbed down. There is really nothing special to do. Allocate your points, offer a scholarship and simply play the season. The recruit visits are a little different this year in you can get more bonus points for your recruits if you do certain things during the game. For example you have a WR visiting your school week 11 and he wants you to throw for more than 250 yards in the game. IF you do he gets bonus points. Nothing special but it adds a little different challenge to those games. I found myself a couple times trying to pass for 250 yards, Rush for 100 and get 2 picks and 3 pass deflections all in the same game to appease all my recruits in town. The biggest change to recruiting comes in the off season. Now you only have 1 week to recruit in the off season. You can put all your points into a single player if you wish... As I said before the whole recruiting system is far to dumb down for what I'm use too. The whole point of playing dynasty is to go through the recruiting phase, not a streamlined allocate points and forget about them system. Then again NCAA killed the whole point of recruiting when they allowed users to be modified teams during the season. Simple start a game with any team you want and you can change all your players to 99's if you want. Then you can simply recruit 1 star prospect and make them 99's once they join your team.... I'm sure some people like all-star squads but it makes recruiting absolutely pointless.
The new feature I liked the most in this year's addition is definitely the skills tree for coaches. As your play through dynasty games your coach earns XP that can be spent on different upgrade for recruiting or gameplay. Sort of like Madden's introduction of XP last year. At first I was really excited but after playing through 2 seasons the only real benefit my coach received was I able to get more recruiting points each week. I wish the decisions I made had a bigger impact on the game but it's their first year with this new XP system.
The Big Question most people know already is can draft classes be exported to Madden?... Yes they can. Its back which is great because without draft classes my purchase of NCAA last year was pointless.
So that's about it for the new features. I know I'm leaving stuff out like the fact there are 20 different new option plays and things of that nature but they don't drastically change ones viewpoint on the game. Honestly NCAA FOOTBALL 13 was a better game but didn't have the draft class option which made people hate it. Some people will really like the new recruiting. I'm pretty indifferent about it but honestly preferred the old method of learning about players interests and trying to appease them. However like I said before the new XP system makes you feel like you can sort of customize your coach to your play style. Even if after 2 seasons your choices don't do much on the field for you. If you are an NCAA fan this is probably the best its going to get on current gen consoles so I recommend picking it up.
on September 13, 2013
I've been playing the NCAA franchise since 06, and am an avid college football fan, so I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what makes a good college football game. Over the past 4 or 5 years, I've been pretty disappointed with the games that have been put out. I thought 06 and 07 were both great games, and 08 and 09 were both good as well, but starting with 10 the games went on a bit of a downward spiral.
It feels like the main focus, gameplay-wise, has been passing on all of the recent installments, leading to many players abandoning the run game entirely because passing was so easy. Unfortunately, passing still isn't fixed in this title. The good news is that EA finally chose to focus on the running game, completely changing the physics of the game engine. This allows for sharp cuts and jukes and makes running the ball really enjoyable and realistic in this game. While it is good, it's not nearly perfect. The run blocking is still not great, and sometimes is face-palmingly bad. Often times lead blockers will run right past a linebacker to block a safety 15 yards further downfield, leaving the ball carrier to deal with the linebacker. When the blocking actually does occur, it's generally pretty good. The only quip I have with engaged blocks is running through holes at the line of scrimmage. If the hole is big enough, it works just fine, but if a hole isn't gaping then it's impossible to run through it. The ball carrier runs through and, magically, right as you put your foot through the D linemen disengage from the block and wrap you up. This leads to less inside running because it's so unlikely to get to the 2nd level. Despite the flaws, the running game is sometimes ridiculously fun and overall much more realistic and enjoyable in this game.
The passing game still causes so many sighs. Last year, the slot receiver was nearly impossible to cover if he had 90+ speed, and inside routes were mostly a piece of cake against just about any defense. The good thing this year is that this is fixed-well, not exactly fixed, more like patched. It's still very successful but is possible to stop now. The bad news is that, while the inside routes are pretty decent now, the OUTSIDE routes are now terrible. They're probably actually even worse than inside routes in 13. Tight ends with subpar ratings (85- speed, 80- route running) consistently beat good cornerbacks (90+ speed, 85+ man coverage) on corner routes. It's ridiculous. The tight end/receiver will make his break on the corner route and then it takes the DB (I play in a quarter defense often) a full second to react and, by that time, he's beat by 10+ yards. Corners and outs are overpowered. I mostly play the CPU, but in playing against other users, curl routes are also pretty overpowered. Another thing I hate about the passing game is how QBs throw. EA really really needs to come out with a new passing system. It's simply ridiculous that there's only two options on how to throw a pass--lob or bullet. There are FAR too many instances when neither a lob nor a bullet will work. Let's say the defense is running a simple cover 2 and I have a slot receiver running a deep in. He ends up about 10 yards behind the linebacker and 15 yards in front of a safety, so how do you pass it? He's open, but if you throw a bullet, the linebacker has an easy interception. If you lob it, the QB throws it 20 yards in the air as if he's trying to throw a hail mary and the safety either picks it off or nails the receiver attempting to catch it. Oh, there's the next area of concern--jump balls. Can EA PLEASE fix the "catch" button? It's absolutely horrific. It's not worth switching to receivers to manually catch the ball because, half the time, the button doesn't work and the receiver doesn't try to catch the ball. On deep passes in 1-on-1 situations, 90% of the time the DB has an easy jumping interception because the receiver either doesn't try to catch the ball or tries to catch the ball in front of him.
Speaking of interceptions, there really needs to be more animations for defensive backs. I love the new pass catching animations for receivers, they're a great addition and make each catch more unique. Now why can't they do that for tipped passes? The problem with the passing game is that it's usually either a completion or an interception. People always complain about the large amount of dropped interceptions by DBs, but that's because just about anytime a DB deflects a pass he gets both hands on the ball. It would be very unrealistic if they caught every interception they had. There simply needs to be more 1-handed tips added to the game for the defense. Defenders shouldn't be able to pick off a pass unless they have a good angle on the ball. Anyways, I have more to say about the passing game but I feel like I'm rambling now so I'll move on.
Dynasty has always been my favorite feature of the NCAA games. I love taking a team and building it through recruiting and winning bowls. This year, EA hit the nail on the head with dynasty mode. The new coaching skill trees are a great addition and make the mode retain interest even after building a great team. The only problem I have with it is I wish it were possible to negotiate contracts with coordinators as a head coach. Recruiting-wise, EA took an entirely different approach this year and changed the normal system. At first I was a little skeptical and had my growing pains, but now I really enjoy it. It's simple and efficient. No more are the days of spending nearly as much time recruiting as playing games. Another awesome improvement this year is the athlete position. I know that there's always been athletes, but usually they could only play 1 or 2 positions and weren't as good at that position as recruits that play that specific position. In this game, athletes are how they should be: dynamic. There's guys that can play 4 or 5+ positions, which adds a whole new dimension. I found an athlete that had good passing skills and 95 speed, so now 3 years later I have a QB with 99 speed that is a lot of fun to play with. I also found a guy with good athleticism and really good defensive skills. He probably should have been a DB, but I put him at OLB with 97 speed and he's amazing. It's just another element that adds to the longevity of dynasty mode in this game. Also, finding gems and busts through scouting is a cool feature too.
The Ultimate Team mode is interesting, but not quite enough to take my interest away from dynasty mode. Same with Road to Glory, which is still decently fun. Overall, I know I'm critiquing the game fairly harshly, but that's because I'm a college football junkie that wouldn't be satisfied with anything but perfection. This truly is a pretty good game and is fun, I've logged a lot of hours into it and I'm still having a great time with dynasty mode. Hopefully EA will keep improving more and more with future games.
on October 3, 2013
For anyone curious about the title, well a short explanation is that NCAA ended their licensing agreement with EA Sports. Also after the recent lawsuit, EA is done making future College football games as of now. Which to me is disappointing because EA was really starting to pick up their game and had a great looking future of NCAA games ahead. With that said I will start the real review, with what I liked and disliked about the game.
This year it seems the mechanics were a lot more polished than previous versions of NCAA Football. Now I've been buying the NCAA Football games since '04, (With the exceptions of '09, '10, and '12) 2006 has always been my favorite version from the series, and to be honest, it's been hard to find one since then to match it. EA Sports has been known to just throw out a new version year after year, with no big changes. This really goes for Madden as well, but there is always something special about the College football games that I liked. For one, it's the atmosphere of the crowd, that's 1 thing they can never seem to get right with Madden. Madden always feels too dull (Nowadays anyways) whereas NCAA always felt energetic and fun.
This year they have made a lot of steady improvements with the infinity engine. Initially I was disappointed when playing Madden 13 (When they introduced infinity physics) the gameplay didn't really grasp me, so I was a bit wary when I heard they were bringing pretty much the same thing to this years version of NCAA. Well my initial doubts were quickly thrown out when I played the demo and realized how much better the game felt. Now having it and playing it quite a bit, it is a huge improvement over last years game and the years before that. It even works much better than Madden. It feels like a real college football game again, no more of players "gliding" across the field, no more stiff looking animations. The game plays much more fluid now, with the players actually being able to make cuts, and they actually look like they run now. Before the running animations seemed off, and clunky. NCAA 13 was fun, but NCAA 14 has really set the bar. A bar that can no longer be passed with the cancellation of the series lol.
If you're a fan of the series, you'll love the new look, the players look more realistic. Catching, running, tackling animations are much more realistic this year. The atmosphere is still there and better than ever, which like I said before is 1 thing I always enjoyed about the series. Whether you like to play with friends or like to win the championship in Dynasty mode, you will love this installment of the franchise.
Dynasty Mode: My favorite mode I use, it's pretty much the only mode I use anymore. This year they've fixed it and returned back to the days of old.
Recruiting: Is so much better this year, ever since they introduced the calling system of NCAA 11, I've been wanting back the system of 06 where you just used points to recruit your players. This year they finally brought it back! Don't get me wrong,I liked the calling system at first, but after the first few weeks in a season, you get tired of it really quick. It took you away from the time you could be playing the actual game. Now it's quick and simple.
Other than recruiting Dynasty mode hasn't changed a whole lot, in terms of features, but that really doesn't matter as all we really want to do is play football anyways right?
With that said I do have a few minor gripes about the game. The actual gameplay itself, like I said is really top notch and fun. There is always those lingering issues they can never seem to get right. The "Shoestring tackle" for instance, when you dive for a player a fair distance away and tackle them at the feet, EA Sports haven't really been getting this entirely right. As it is annoying when the CPU goes for a shoestring tackle and they are further away from me when they are on the ground, them bam, they fly forward and bring me to the ground. An annoying issue when you have an open hole to break a huge run, it can get annoying. Also interceptions in the game, I get they wanted a more fluid style of play, which is what they have created, but also it's annoying when you intercept the ball, you're holding down to run and the camera turns around then you're running away from where you want to. I do more so prefer the old stop, screen turns then you go. I guess this way can make things a little more interesting in some instances.
The Pause Menu: Ugh I don't know where to begin here, I don't get why they insist on changing this every year. To get a "Fresher look" I can understand that, but do they really have to make you go to such great lengths to find things? Like when you are in the game and need to use that 1 challenge you have, you have to pause, go over to strategy go down to coach's challenge. They could have just put it in the pause menu for in game use. It can be a nuisance to be looking around for something when you just want to get it over with to play the game.
There still is the other issues of calling a fumble from the QB an incomplete pass, when you look and it's clearly a fumble. You can't do anything about it though, the commentating is off in some parts of the game. Saying things that really don't make much sense to what is really going on in the game.
One last thing that annoys me this year, EA Sports finally brought back Draft class exporting. I've been wanting this feature back and the year they finally do it, the timing couldn't have been more worse. It's practically useless (to me anyways) with the problems I've been hearing about Madden again, and the fact that I didn't much care for the Madden demo again. I will be skipping on Madden this generation, and I'm holding out for Next-Gen to see if it is improved at all. (from what I've seen, no lol) With no NCAA on Next-Gen (Or anymore NCAA games at all for that matter) them bringing back draft class exporting is like a slap in the face. IMO.
Those are just a few of my minor gripes about the game, I'm sure I would have more, but no sports game is absolutely perfect, so those issues will always arise. I will finish by saying this is definitely the best NCAA I have played in a long time by far. If you are a fan of the franchise, then you really have to pick this one up. Because there is no more "holding out" for a better experience. The college football games are now finished it seems, and this being the last installment is perfectly fine with me, because this title will have longevity for the years to come, with downloadable rosters, the game should live on just fine for this gen. You can take this for what it is, it's just my opinion on the matter, buy the game you won't be disappointed.
TL;DR: Best one in awhile, Buy it. Lol
on June 28, 2015
NCAA Football is different enough from Madden that I wanted both. In this case you have very little chance of getting the best players if you don't have high ratings in several areas, such as winning, prestige, coaches that not only win but are well know with your school and things like that. So, for instance, a place like UTEP doesn't start out with enough respect to get the nearly perfect players I just created. I have to work on all those other things first while the guys I created get recruited to other schools. The stadiums all look right. I mean the ones I have actually attended in real life look and feel accurate in this game. Of course they play each school's proper music. I REALLY do like this game, but I almost took away a star because when I went to bowl games it never said the name of the bowl. It's probably a licensing thing, but if I am playing in the Rose Bowl, the screen should say so and the guys broadcasting the game should mention it. I'm just saying. The game play itself is very smooth. It works quite well. When I sit down to play just one game, I end up greedy to play an entire season. It IS that good.
on February 1, 2015
So if you're a college football fan and own an Xbox 360, I can't recommend this game enough. I took a few years off from the series and when I came back NCAA14 did not disappoint. One piece of advise though, the people trying to sell the game on here for $80 are pirates. Go on Xbox Live and get the digital copy for under $10 unless you absolutely NEED the disc.
on July 9, 2015
The best and final college football game likely to be made. Given the state of the NCAA and the constant altering of conferences it seems unlikely that another encompassing CFB game will ever be released. See the pricing for EA Sports NCAA Basketball 10' for reference on how 'final editions' hold value.
While personally I believe the 2008 year was the most feature rich, this edition really does have everything you need for an amazing, fun, and immersive experience. You can easily alter rosters, conferences, championships, and really any other aspect of the game. Plus with it likely being the last CFB game, you know that the online support for rosters and other aspects is going to be maintained. I recommend Operation Sports for those who are inclined to stay up to date.
on July 17, 2014
Though not without its flaws, this is easily the best college football game I've played. I usually alternated between NCAA and Madden from year to year, and sadly can't do that anymore. Compared with the last NCAA football game I played ('12), NCAA Football 14 has better/smoother graphics, streamlined Dynasty feature which I enjoyed after spending years on the old version--phoning recruits and so on for hours on end... improved AI, and better animations. Some of the load times are noticeably improved.
The biggest difference for me is that I no longer get fed up with the game for the AI defensive backs jumping out of their shoes to intercept my passes; now I'm mad at myself for throwing into contested passing lanes or at a defender that was clearly dropping into coverage. The tackling animations are as much as I would expect of this game. If you're still stuck with the last generation gaming consoles, or want to flash back to the (recent) past, this is a great one to pick up.. and at the price, there's no reason not to grab a copy.
on December 19, 2013
Let me start by saying I had very low expectations for this game. Even when I started playing it, nothing blew me away and I was not impressed. Maybe it was the fact that I have played the NCAA Football franchise for going on 8 years now that lead to my initial view of the game being so poor, but after getting a few games under my belt in Online Dynasty, my interest in the game did a 180. This review for the game is based solely on the Dynasty and Online Dynasty modes.
The graphics in this game are typical of what you would expect from a NCAA Football game. Year after year they improve the graphics just enough to make if feel like it’s a newer game than the previous edition. This year’s graphics are phenomenal. They are so good that the untrained eye often does not know it is just a video game. They added the Madden 13 physics engine to the game this year in order to improve the “realism” they always strive to achieve. Sometimes the physics engine actually hinders the so called “realism” by making players fall or get tackled awkwardly, or do things I cannot even describe. It also changes up how a player goes about running the ball behind their offensive lineman, because if they run into one of them, it completely stops their momentum and can cause them to get tackled for a loss. It can make them trip and fall over as well. This can happen to you often if you are not careful about where you are running because this sort of thing happens almost every time you run into the back of your linemen.
If you can figure out how to avoid running into your offensive line, the gameplay this year is better than ever. In years past, blocking schemes had no effect on the way you ran the ball at all. They simply blocked forward, and any defensive player who was being blocked could easily slip off of it and make a tackle if you ran next to them. This year that has been completely done away with. The blocking mechanics are amazing and it makes blocking schemes matter. You can run next to a defensive player who is being blocked by one of your players and no longer have to worry about them suddenly flying off and making a tackle. Plays out of the wildcat formation and reverses out of other formations actually work with much more success because you can wait on blocks to develop and find the hole to make a big play. All of this however depends on the skill level of both your players and the person controlling the ball carrier.
Defenses are much smarter this year and it makes it much more realistic than it has been in the past several games. They are better at learning what you are doing if you run the same plays repeatedly. This is not always the case but, it is most of the time. They have finally done away with the “Hercules” linebackers. It used to be that anytime you threw the ball over the middle and it was less than 10 yards down the field, a linebacker could literally leap 10 feet in the air in any direction and intercept the ball. This was very frustrating for players that loved to sling the ball around the field. The only issue with the smarter defense is that it is extremely hard to throw the ball down the field. You have to have a very strong armed quarterback and a speedy receiver most of the time in order to throw a deep ball, or else it will be intercepted more times than not. This also will depend on how good the person controlling the team is on whether or not it actually affects them. You can always adjust by aiming where you want the ball placed or just by not throwing the ball to those players unless they are wide open. The opponent’s offense tends to run the read option a lot in this game, which can be very annoying. Even on teams that do not usually run the read option, if they run it once on you and it works, they will continue to run it over and over again. It can become almost unstoppable because they are very smart on whether or not to hand the ball off or keep it; even when you read it right sometimes your player will just run right past the ball carrier rather than making the tackle.
Dynasty and Online Dynasty mode has been stale the past few years with too few improvements being added. This year they have gone to great lengths to change that and make it actually feel like a new game. The recruiting portion of the Dynasty modes has changed more than anything else in this entire game. It has been streamlined in order to make it easier and faster for those who do not wish to spend a lot of time recruiting, but it’s still just as deep for those who wish to get the most out of it. It does take a while to get used to since it has an all new interface and works in a completely different way, but after getting familiar with it the system becomes much more fun than it was last year. Initially the user is given 5,000 points a week to use and you can place up to 500 points on any given player you wish to recruit. Every week following that, you will continue to automatically spend those same points on that player unless you manually change it. This was done so that users can assign how many points they want on players and then allow them to not have to check it again for a few weeks if they choose not to. Users can still check in every week, and see their progress on the recruits if they wish, and make any changes they want to the overall points being spent on these players.
They have also added coach experience points and a leveling up system with a skill tree to the game. This can be a game changer for someone who plans to spend a long time in one of the Dynasty modes because the skill trees have some really rewarding skills. Examples of some of the skills include things like adding more points to your recruiting during the season, being able to spend more than 500 points on players every week, and being able to recruit a player that has locked you out. These all come over time, though, and you cannot buy them all at the beginning or it would make it too easy.
The Verdict: 8.5 out of 10
This game has all of the parts of the NCAA Football formula that has made it such a great game for the past several years, but it also finds ways to improve in many areas. It is a breath of fresh air to those of us who have been playing the game for close to a decade and a great game for newcomers to jump in to (especially since this may be the last college football game we see for a long time). It is fun to play a dynasty as your favorite teams and try to take them to the BCS National Championship Game every year and just as fun to play against your friends for bragging rights. This is definitely a video game for any college football fan and anyone who likes football games in general. I have enjoyed my experience with it after over four seasons of play and will continue to enjoy it for the foreseeable future.