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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

NCAA Football 12 Reviews - NCAA Football 12 Video Review from ign.com -










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NCAA Football 12 Video Review from ign.com



NCAA Football 12 Review

Does EA capitalize on last season's success or fail to deliver?


College is many things to many people, but my four years at Mizzou were defined by football. Faurot Field, the colors black and gold, and waking up at 5 a.m. to be at the tailgate spot long before kickoff are the memories that define my college experience. If you're an NCAA football fan, chances are you have some kind of memory similar to this -- college is all about tradition, and that's what NCAA Football 12 brings to the forefront this year alongside a bunch of other bells and whistles.

NCAA Football 12 is EA Sports and developer Tiburon's latest stab at boiling down one of America's most revered pastimes to something you can play in your living room. Luckily for players, NCAA Football 12 is great at this. It takes all the teams, stadiums, fight songs as well as pomp and circumstance we'd expect and shoves it on a disc for you to enjoy.

It starts with the way the game is presented. The ESPN integration is back from last year, and it's more interwoven than ever before. The games kickoff with an introduction pulled from Saturday's cable line-up, the commentary is energetic and interesting, and camera angles make it feel like you're watching the real thing. Tiburon put in a bunch of tunnel entrances and touch traditions to make your school feel like your school. The Wake Forest Deacon riding in on a motorcycle, slapping the NIU Husky statue, the LSU Tiger roaring in its cage -- it's all there, and this attention to detail makes the games feel more like the real thing than any NCAA game I've played before.

Of course, then there are the little things that pulled me out of the experience and reminded me I was playing a game. A shadow would freak out on the ground, a cameraman would be cut in half by the field goal net, and so on. Anyone who has played NCAA Football in the past few years is used to these little moments. Seasoned players are also going to be used to the gameplay in general.

Yes, NCAA Football 12 packs a new collision system that makes tackling more lifelike and the 3D grass makes for some breathtaking replays, but the nuts and bolts of gameplay feels largely the same. That's fine, as it's as awesome as ever to read blocks and break a big run or pick off a cocky QB, but it does keep NCAA Football 12 from feeling like it made any massive leaps forward. Last year's game was great and this year's game adds a bunch of flair, but the additions are all about presentation and leave the meat of the game feeling familiar.

Coach Pinkel for President.
Dynasty was great last year with its ability to run an online league with friends from a computer, call recruits, and create your own stories. All of that is back, but Dynasty in NCAA Football 12 is about customizing the experience. When I started my dynasty, I was able to create conferences, tweak bowl game settings, and rename divisions. When I had it just right, I created a coach and took the hard road -- choosing the new option to start as an offensive or defensive coordinator. This restricted me to only playing one side of the ball, but it made the rise of my coach -- Fran Mirabella III -- more realistic. I signed a two-year contract and got to watch my job security rise and fall based on whether I was hitting my contract's objectives.

In the past, I've always watched my record and the school's prestige, but the coaching contracts put a new twist on that. Even when Fran's offense was rocking, we'd lose games thanks to the defense falling apart when I was off the field. In the grand scheme, though, it didn't matter as my contract was judging me for yards gained and records broken -- not the number of wins we were pulling in. That's a worry for a head coach.

When my contract was up, I got to get hands-on with the new Coaching Carousel. Here, teams fire, rehire and sign on new coaches. I chose to investigate my options rather than immediately re-sign, and that let me field offers from teams looking for a new direction. This is where you'll make your moves, and it was a bit nerve-wracking for me to pass on my current school's final offer in hopes of getting something better down the road.

The Coaching Carousel is a welcome addition to the NCAA Football franchise -- even though I'd like to see some tweaks. No matter where you start (coordinator or head coach), you're in charge of recruiting for the entire team. That's a bit unreal and should be another honor saved for landing the top slot on a program. I want to be locked out of options until I have the big job so the move feels like a big deal.
The part of NCAA Football 12 getting the biggest overhaul (thankfully) is Road to Glory. Last year's mode was pretty much a rehash, but this year's takes the idea of playing as just one player from high school through college to a different place. Now, it's like a role-playing game. You earn and lose experience points as you practice and play, and this leads to you leveling up in your role on the team. You can go all the way from third string to a campus god, and it unlocks various options along the way.
I chose to be a quarterback, and when I first started, my options were severely limited. The coach gave a play, I executed it. However, as I leveled, I began to take more control. I could flip the play. I could call hot routes at home. I could get additional plays to choose from a certain number of times. It's a really fun mechanic. After years of playing football games, it's interesting to have the choices I've taken for granted stripped away and be left to re-earn them. It makes Road to Glory feel like something other than just another football mode.
Boosters are a part of that, too, but they also tend to break the experience. You can spend the experience points you're earning on career and one-game stat boosts. I could improve my throwing accuracy and power for a game or make my agility better for my entire career. Again, this is a cool idea I dug, but there's a flaw -- it's too easy. By the middle of my freshman year, I was already a 99 overall thanks to boosters. I still struggled in games and didn't have an amazing record, but it was silly to be done with this new option less than a fourth into my career. I hope Tiburon balances it for next year's installment, as it has a ton of promise.
Come to NIU. We have... just come're.
Outside of all that, though, you're getting the NCAA video game you probably already know and love. Passing feels tight, running's fun, loading still takes too long, and online action has the tendency to be a split second off. Little additions such as Road to Glory's online leaderboards and the ability to create your very own playbooks are cool, but the majority of the experience is what you'd expect.

Closing Comments

NCAA Football 12 is great. I love the coaching changes in Dynasty, Road to Glory isn't perfect but has good ideas, and the new presentation tweaks really make the games feel special. The gameplay is the sweetness fans expect, but it's largely unchanged. That's not a knock -- you don't need to reinvent the wheel every year -- but it does keep NCAA Football 12 from feeling like a groundbreaking experience. Instead, it's more like a special edition of NCAA Football 11, which I'm more than happy to play for hours and hours.

IGN Ratings for NCAA Football 12 (PS3).

9.0 Presentation
The touch traditions and entrances make the games feel more real than ever and the Road to Glory and Dynasty tweaks are welcome. Loads could be faster.

9.0 Graphics
The replays are gorgeous, and the video game can look like the real thing at a glance. Shadows and sideline people could use some work, and the field itself can look flat in action.

8.5 Sound
I like Brad Nessler and Kirk Herbstreit in the box and enjoy their new dialogue, but there’s still some stale stuff here and there. Bands and fan noise sound great.

8.5 Gameplay
It's the same rock solid football so many of us know. Passing, running and defending all feel great. New tackle system is nice, but could've gone for more additions.

8.5 Lasting Appeal
Online Dynasties should keep people around, and Road to Glory isn't perfect but is fun. Still, it can seem like last year's game and that could turn some off. Not me, though.

8.5
OVERALL
Great



NCAA Football 12 Review
psnation.org

Title: NCAA Football 12
Format: Blu Ray
Release Date: July 12, 2011
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: Tiburon
Price: $59.99


I love College Football, but really only when it pertains to the Wisconsin Badgers. I’m not one of those people that likes to create a player and build him up over 4 years etc. I just like to play the game, and kick some butt in hopes to making it to a Bowl Game. You’ll see other reviews out there written by people that recognize if a uniform isn’t accurate, or if there aren’t the correct number of sections in the stadium. My focus in this review is about the meat of the game; how it looks, how it plays, and if it satisfies my Badger Football cravings. For the meticulous technical stuff, this review is NOT for you.

Gameplay:
I’m not going to bore you with what every button does where, but I will say, this is the best an EA Football game has ever felt. The running game especially is so well done this year, and those hitches when the ball is hiked, gone. This is the classic interface that we’ve seen over the past few years, and with some refinemtents this year, they’ve done a great job at streamlining the entire experience.

The passing game is pretty-much what you’d expect, and Play Action doesn’t result in a sack every time now, which is welcome change. The biggest gameplay change though, is definitely the running game. It’s hard to actually describe, but it “feels” so natural now. Your runner will bounce off of defenders the way that you’d expect, he’ll roll away from a gang-tackle if you’re quick enough on the right stick, and the motion just feels so much better this time around. Even draw plays work this year, where in years past it would almost certainly result in a tackle behind the line.

Running still isn’t perfect, but neither is it in real-life. Your Fullback will miss a block occasionally, and sometimes your Tight End will cut too early when blocking, but again, that happens in real-life as well. Screen passes actually work too, instead of being spied every time. Your Tight End will actually make an effort to keep his feet inbounds when there’s a close throw, something that happens out of Play Action quite a bit when I’m playing because well, I’m old.

Passing overall is pretty tight, but it does still feel like defenders have this ability to just jump a route from ten yards away. It’s not as frequent as in past years, but there have been occasions still, and it was frustrating. Better though, is that it seems like there’s a better opportunity to connect downfield with a covered receiver, where in years past it would be swatted-away nine times out of ten. All of this is tied-in to a pretty refined play calling system that works extremely well. I never felt rushed or confused about play to call. I’m pretty simople though, as I can play an entire game using on I-Formation, but that’s only in certain games.

Defense has also been refined, including the ability to click the left stick to bring the camera behind the player you’re using instead of the camera always behind the offense. It’s pretty sweet to be able to click that quick for a different read on the Offense. Getting past the O-Line feels a lot better this year, and it’s much easier to identify mis-matches at the line. Pass defense though, still needs a bit of work. Your defenders will do what they’re supposed to do more than in past games, but even when I had a ball thrown directly into my Safety’s hands, with no one around him for at least 5 yards, he still couldn’t catch the ball for an interception. For some reason, Interception’s still feel like there’s a dice roll controlling whether your defender will catch the ball or not, since the ones I actually did catch seemed FAR tougher (maybe this is just sour grapes though.)

Kicking is petty standard, and hasn’t seemed to have changed much, which is fine. It’s still using the “pull the right stick back, then push forward” method, but it works, so I’m fine with it. Can I say again though, that the running game is SO good this year? Really, it’s awesome!

One piece that I really do want to complain about though, is the fact that there’s not simply a “Season” mode. Instead, you can either build a character and work him through his College Career, or start a “Dynasty” in which you have to run all of the aspects of a team, including recruting players and running the day-to-day stuff. Well, I don’t want to do any of that crap. I just want to start a season and play through it. Honestly, I hate that they’ve taken a simple season mode away, and am thankful that at least in Dynastly mode, you can have the CPU handle most of that stuff.

Visuals:
EA Sports did something wonderful with the games visuals this year. It looks so natural in terms of the turf, the lighting, the stadiums, and the players themselves. The turf looks great this year, as do the stadiums. With the addition of a new HDR lighting system this year, everythign just looks more natural than any other Football game that I’ve played. Also, the framerate has definitely gotten a boost this year, with a lot less hitching and much better animations and transitions.

Some things are still not perfect, like when a highlight is shown at halftime or at the end of the game. Implemented this year is an actual day-to-night transition in the lighting and in the sky itself. But if a replay from earlier in the game is run, the lighting etc kinda freak-out for a second or two, but nothing here that detracts from the actual game. At a few other times you may see a quick glitch, or framerate change, but again, it never really affects gameplay, which is key. Also, you have the ability to save highlight photographs and videos that can be accessed in-game and on the EA Webpage, which is a great way to share with your friends. The photos, two of which you see below, really look great too. You only get so many slots though, unless you want to buy more…

All-in-all though, this is a great looking Football game, probably one of the best visually. The new engine is quite impressive, and even with some of the weird glitches, it’s beautiful to look at in any situation. It’s also cool to actually see activity around the stadium during gameplay, epsecially with the mascots that roam around the perimeter of the field. You catch a glimpse of the mascot trying to rile the crowd up, or even doing some cool gymnastics moves. It feels a lot less “pre-canned” this year for sure.

Audio:
As usual, the sound is superb. The announcers keep-up with the action, and everything on the field has that grittiness and impact that you’d expect. Well done also is how the crowd audio is handled, well, mostly,.What’s there is great, but a couple aspects in terms of specific atmosphere are still missing. First, when I attempt to fire the crowd up, at home, before a pivotal play, the crowd sometimes is essentially silent. It only seemed to really ratchet things up when I scored or when it was 3rd/4th down. Also, not an audio thing really, but they still don’t have Bucky doing pushup’s when the Badgers score a touchdown, which is really disappointing,

Online/Multiplayer:
As with most of the EA games this past year, included in the package is the code for your online pass. When you get online, you can either choose to do a quick match in ranked or unranked, or you can scroll more to the right to find the lobbies. The system is very straightforward and works well.

Online play is as solid as you’d expect from EA Sports. It still has that little twinge of lag that I think we’ll always have, but the game is incredibly playable online. Lobbies are available, as well as the opportunities to hook-up a Quick-Match in Ranked or Unranked varieties, and of course, you can always setup your own game for someone else to join. Voice Chat sounds good, and the responsiveness is exactly what I expected. Just don’t think that it’s going to play like the Single Player. If you do, prepare for frustration.

Conclusion:
It’s been a long time since a Football game has felt as refreshing and new as NCAA 12. It’s still sitting on the foundation that’s been established over the last few years, but the leap that the visuals have taken is noticeable, and the refinements to the running game are welcome and bring a huge new element to the game as a whole. I only wish that they would have included a simple “season” mode for those of us that don’t want to deal with managing other aspects of the team. The bottom line though, is that I am thoroughly enjoying NCAA 12, and it’s definitely one the best Football games that I’ve ever played. Go Badgers!

Grade:A



NCAA Football 12 Review

By Jeff Rider
The Charleston Gazette

In "NCAA Football 12," players can create custom conferences during Dynasty mode.Advertiser
The college football landscape is in a constant state of flux.

Players leave and new recruits arrive to take their place. Coaches are hired and fired, opening the door for eager assistants hungry for a chance to take the reins. Programs rise and fall, with true dynasties becoming the exception rather than the rule. Schools abandon decades of tradition to seek glory and fame in a new conference. Even the game itself is constantly evolving, with trendy new offenses replacing "3 yards and a cloud of dust" and defenses adapting to keep pace.

Indeed, nothing about the sport of college football remains the same for very long.

With "NCAA Football 12," the developers at EA Tiburon have not only given gamers the tools needed to keep up with this ever-changing world, but also to create their own unique college football universe. Combine that with the most compelling on-field gameplay the series has ever offered, and it's clear that "NCAA 12" isn't simply the best college football game to date.

It may also be the last college football game you will ever have to buy.

Before talking about the revolutionary features that give "NCAA 12" its near infinite replayability, let's focus on what really matters - the action between the lines. I loved the way "NCAA 11" played, but the Tiburon team has taken things to a whole new level this year.

It starts on the defensive side of the ball, where a new collision-based tackling engine has eliminated all of the player warping and suction from years past. Now, tackles aren't initiated until the defender makes contact with the ball carrier. This new collision system not only leads to more realistic-looking tackles, but also affects the way players block and run their routes.

As offensive linemen are no longer automatically sucked into a blocking animation when the ball is snapped, they are free to disengage players at the line of scrimmage and seek out blocks down field. One of the first long touchdown runs I had was made possible by a guard who pancaked his defender at the line of scrimmage, then took on a safety who was moving into position to make a tackle some 10 yards further down field.

For receivers, the new collision system makes it much more difficult to get a clean release off the line when a defender has tight coverage. I've watched as receivers stumble and get knocked off-balance trying to free themselves from defensive backs, disrupting the timing of their routes. This dynamic works both ways, though, as I have had receivers get wide open deep down field after the defensive back missed his initial jam at the line of scrimmage. Playing bump-and-run coverage is a definite risk-reward proposition.

While the new collision system is an overwhelming success, I did discover one unfortunate bug caused by it that cost me one game and nearly a second - roughing the passer penalties. In years past, a player could get near the quarterback and even collide with him withou triggering a tackle animation. This year, the quarterback instead reacts to any contact from an opposing player. The first time this happened, one of my defensive linemen was rushing off the edge and putting pressure on the quarterback, who stepped up and fired a pass down field. After the ball had been released and both players were walking back toward the line of scrimmage, my player brushed up against the QB, which sent him flailing to the ground like a European soccer player. Fifteen yards and an automatic first down. The second time this happened was even more egregious. My defensive tackle, while still engaged with an offensive lineman, barely touched the quarterback with his foot - yes, his foot - yet that was enough to send the signal caller tumbling to the turf and draw another roughing the passer call.

I'm hoping that turning down the slider that controls the frequency of roughing the passer penalties to zero with help eliminate this problem, but only time will tell. Perhaps this is something that can be addressed in a patch.

Outside of the new collision system, the biggest addition on the field is unquestionably the improved AI on both sides of the ball. This is especially true on defense, where zone coverage is finally an effective tool. Players recognize their assignments and actually point out receivers as they move from one zone to the next. Man-to-man coverage has also been tightened, but at no point did I feel as though the defensive AI was cheating. Middle linebackers no longer have world-class leaping ability or eyes in the back of their heads. I have thrown plenty of interceptions, but each one was my fault, not the result of crooked AI or a canned animation that caused a player to suddenly warp in front of my receiver.

On offense, the improved AI looked to exploit any weakness in my defense, be it on the ground or through the air. Running backs moved with a near human-like quality, utilizing their full range of jukes and spins to pick up extra yardage. Running out of the shotgun formation was still hit-or-miss for both myself and the computer, but AI quarterbacks aren't afraid to tuck the ball and run. In my West Virginia dynasty, the LSU quarterback consistently shredded my defense with both designed runs and improvised scrambles. He won the game for the Tigers with a 38-yard quarterback draw that caught me completely off-guard.

Had EA Tiburon stopped at simply tweaking the gameplay I would have been impressed with "NCAA 12." But the developers didn't stop there. Not even close. The list of new features includes a full coach mode complete with a broadcast camera angle, the ability to create custom playbooks and a revamped Road to Glory mode that allows for a full high-school season and the option of playing both sides of the ball.

But the biggest additions were saved for Dynasty mode.

Dynasty mode has long been the series' premier attraction, but after a while the experience tends to get stale. The world of college football is constantly changing, but seismic shifts rarely during in Dynasty mode. That isn't going to be a problem in "NCAA 12," because you control the world in which you're playing.

For the first time, players have the freedom to tailor their "NCAA 12" experience to their liking. Conferences can be completely realigned with as many as 16 teams or as few as four. Bowl tie-ins can be edited, even for the BCS games. Everything from the names of divisions to which days of the week games are played on can be changed either prior to starting a Dynasty or during the offseason once your Dynasty is under way. Want to transform the Big East to the way it was before the ACC swiped Miami (Fla.), Boston College and Virginia Tech? Go ahead. Think Notre Dame should join the Big 10? Make it happen. Feel like Conference USA deserves a BCS bowl bid? You need your head checked, but you can do it in "NCAA 12."

The other major addition to Dynasty mode is the Coaching Carousel. When you begin your Dynasty, you can chose to sign on as a head coach or either the offensive or defensive coordinator. Playing as a head coach gives you full control over your team once the ball is kicked off, but coordinators can only call plays for their side of the ball. Each job has specific stat-based goals attached to it, and reaching those goals helps maintain your job security. Perform well and your current school may give you a contract extension or another school could step in with an offer. Fail to meet your goals and you could find yourself looking for work elsewhere. Sadly, there is no option to try and undermine the credibility of other coaches on your staff by having former sports reporters dig up dirt on them, but maybe that can be added next year.

The most powerful new feature to grace Dynasty mode is one that most players will never make use of - the ability to edit players once your Dynasty has begun. Remember how I said "NCAA 12" could be the last college football game you'll ever have to buy? With the ability to edit players in Dynasty mode, you can keep your team's roster accurate for years to come. Even if you aren't concerned with maintaining an accurate roster, the ability to edit players will help eliminate one of the biggest flaws in "NCAA 11" - terrible computer-generated recruits. Would it take some work? Sure, but the reward is there for those willing to put in the time.

Online Dynasty mode also returns, complete with the Coaching Carousel and the ability to SuperSim games from the web (for a $2.99 fee).

The presentation side of "NCAA 12" received an overhaul, too, with several new team-specific entrances and mascots, including LSU's tiger and Oklahoma's Sooner Schooner. New graphic overlays and conference-specific wipes help move the game closer to a true broadcast experience, but the commentary from Brad Nessler and Kirk Herbstreit has outlived its usefulness. If nothing else is changed for "NCAA 13," the commentary has got to be redone.

Graphically, a new dynamic lighting engine gives the players and the field a realistic look and the true 3D grass is impressive to see in replays, but doesn't add much to the experience in real-time. Uniforms get dirty and grass fields degrade over time, and weather effects are well done, especially rain.

Last season, the "NCAA Football" franchise finally stepped out from the shadow of "Madden NFL." This year, it stands poised take that next step and surpass its cousin as the top video-game football experience. We'll have to wait another month to find out what "Madden NFL 12" is bringing to the table, but with "NCAA 12" the bar has most definitely been raised.

9.6/10



Embrace tradition – or gleefully throw it out the window

Words: Richard Grisham, GamesRadar US

There’s nothing in sports more traditional than college football, which is why it feels so subversively sweet to destroy much of it with a few clicks of a button. We no longer need to moan about BCS inequities or conference imbalances; NCAA Football 12 lets us alter the landscape of the game to our hearts’ content. So we put ourselves in the position of Czar, built ourselves a one-of-a-kind 16-team “Super Conference” featuring the best programs in the land, and let the dogs loose.
Our expectation was that our impossibly powerful group of first-rate schools like Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon, Wisconsin, and others would produce an endless parade of memorable Saturdays – and did it ever. Every weekend pitted storied universities against each other, with classic games unfolding regularly. Our hope, of course, was that the winners of the two divisions (named Bryant and Rockne, naturally) would square off in the Conference Championship game as undefeated contestants with a straight path to the BCS Title match. Unfortunately, the 16 teams beat each other up so badly during the regular season that the best any team could muster was two losses apiece – and a couple of upstarts from the strip-mined Pac 12 and ACC wound up as title game contestants. It was a hard lesson to learn, but a valuable one – and we’re already back at the drawing board to come up with an even more compelling scenario for next season.
Re-drawing the NCAA football map is only one small improvement in a sea of tweaks that make up EA Sports’ latest take on the collegiate game. But it’s indicative of what NCAA Football 12 provides - a broad series of improvements to pretty much everything without introducing any significant new modes or features. In a title this deep, that was probably the wisest possible choice.
Thanks to the best tackling system we’ve yet seen in a football game, the on-field action is incredibly compelling. We found ourselves being constantly impressed with the realistic angles that bodies would bend based on where they were hit or the velocity thrown into the ballcarrier. Whether getting flattened by a flying linebacker along the sidelines or pancaked by a 350 pound defensive tackle at the line of scrimmage, NCAA Football 12 convinced us that it may be wise to seek a career doing something other than playing big-time football.
The visuals haven’t changed much – they were already superb – but the one noticeable improvement is welcome. The field itself is the feature this season, as the grass comes alive like never before thanks to a 3D effect that we didn’t know we wanted until we saw it. It’s especially great in the replays, adding a layer of realism that’s always been missing.
Of course, if there’s anything that the current generation of hyper-realistic sports games has taught us, it’s impossible to remove the uncanny valley. The better the games get, the more the unnatural moments stand out. Players still glide through referees and even each other on occasion, the crowd appears non-responsive to big plays, and players don’t always react appropriately to what’s happening in front of them. In addition, the commentary remains mostly unchanged and can get repetitive. None of these are game breakers, but they do take you out of the moment.
We could spend hours talking about the finer details of so many aspects of NCAA Football. For the first time since its introduction a few seasons ago, the Road To Glory mode has gotten some meaningful updates, including an expanded amount of time for your player in High School (a full season plus the ability to play both sides of the ball), and a slew of improvements to your experience once you’ve chosen a university. The online dynasty options continue to be the best offerings of their kind with any sports game – between the incredible website for you to monitor your school and interact with your competitors to the custom Team Builder interface, the depth you can reach is unprecedented.
With an extra few weeks to savor NCAA Football 12 before Madden hits, you’ve never had a better chance to sink your teeth into a sublime sports experience. It ain’t perfect – and we’re more convinced than ever that perfection in an HD sports game is an impossibility – but it is another soaring triumph that has something for just about everyone.

You'll loveSublime tackling
Gorgeous visuals
Amazing depth all around
You'll hateStale, uninspired commentary
Crowds are hit-or-miss
No historic teams or players





NCAA Football 12

At The Top Of Its Game?
gameinformer
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.
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.

GI Rating
9.00
Concept:
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
Replay:
High

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