NCAA Football 12 Review
A college football Saturday is unlike any other normal Saturday. Fans tailgate hours before gates even open, bands play their school songs, and players sacrifice everything to earn another victory---it's all part of the college football atmosphere. NCAA Football, EA and Tiburon's annual title, is back and looking to reproduce an experience that you could only find at the stadium. Does the game put a fresh, exciting twist on college football, or is it another year, another game for NCAA Football 12?
The game handles better than any other title over the years. From the overhauled tackling system to the ability to truly command the play you're running, NCAA Football 12 fixes what was broken while maintaining the fantastic gameplay. When running the ball, the ball carrier will not have a tackler sucked into him, making an unauthentic tackle as seen in previous years. Though this is not a core aspect of the game, the few tweaks that are there have created an authentic experience close to what you see on Saturday football.
The highlight of this year's title is the stellar presentation. ESPN is back, but it's integrated in a good way. ESPN pre-game introduction resembles what you would see prior to a Saturday kick-off. Commentary is better than ever, with plays correctly analyzed by the guys in the booth. Along with the TV introduction, the schools' pre-game traditions---such as Florida's slapping the gator, NIU's slapping the husky, and Colorado's famed buffalo---help complete the genuine college football environment.
What EA and Tiburon have yet to fix are the little nagging issues that have been present in the series since its start. Players disappearing into the stands behind the field goal is one such problem. And besides the cinematic fan poses, the crowd looks as horrible as ever. I understand it's hard to generate 50,000-plus fans, but I expected a better detailed crowd. While these minor issues do not detract from the overall experience, long-time fans will be aware of them right away.
This year, the title focused on changes to the Dynasty and Road to Glory modes. The core component of last year's dynasty—the option of being in a league with all your friends—is still available, but customizable features headline the mode. Creating and naming your own conferences is just one of these additions. With conferences, the competition in your Dynasty can be even instead of certain teams getting higher quality opponents. NCAA Football 11's Road to Glory mode was almost an exact clone to the 2010 mode, but thankfully the mode in 12 has been redone for the better. Rather than just practicing to earn the starting spot, you will have to gain experience points and then earn the trust of your coach to keep your spot. You will also have to compete against the man behind you because a challenge to your starting spot can happen at any time. Experience points can be used to boost your player's stats, such as throwing or running.
NCAA Football 12 brings a true college football experience previously unrealized in the franchise. Problems that have kept past titles from achieving high ratings have been fixed. Added features to modes will keep you playing longer than ever before. Fans will appreciate the steps taken by Tiburon to create a game that accurately depicts what college football is all about: tradition. While the game isn't perfect, NCAA Football 12 is one that any sports fan can pick up and enjoy.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]