NCAA Football 13 – Game Analysis & Review
By Patrick Newman
Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: EA Sports
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Genre: American football simulation
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer or singleplayer on-line
EA’s newest entry in the NCAA series boasts a series of gameplay changes and improvements, including 430 new catches, and offers the new Heisman Challenge mode. Overall, the feel of the game is more realistic and encourages a conservative playing style, which comes as a welcome change of pace. With additional refinement in the passing game and an excellent running game that dwarfs even Madden, the newest iteration of EA’s NCAA series is another successful entry in the football genre, even if it falls short of last year’s predecessor.
Quarterbacks in this iteration are more realistic than they’ve ever been, and receiver AI is a huge improvement over the string of disappointments in earlier NCAA games. A considerable amount of new animation accompanies the improved AI that keeps the receivers rule-bound and on field to make the right catches. The most glaring misstep in the gameplay is the diminished defensive game, which allows for interceptions that are almost laughably easy on those rare occasions when the game gives the AI an errant pass.
NCAA 13’s online multiplayer is where the game shines brightest. Free from the problematic AI or the confusing, load time intensive menus, the game reflects all the thrills and strategy that makes basketball itself so exciting. The online Dynasty mode continues that trend by allowing you to run the league, sign contracts and recruit new players, a gameplay option from NCAA 12 that makes a welcome return this year.
The visual presentation of this version, including the new wipes and team entrances, derives more inspiration from ESPN, which makes the game feel more modern and vital. The best example is the new score ticker, which appears at the bottom of the screen to indicate other fictional games being played in 13’s universe. Pre-season scouting is an option that pays off immensely in Dynasty mode, and the new on-the-fly action abort option alleviates some of the game’s more frustrating moments. If only the game could have enhanced its commentary past the frustrating repetitiveness and sometimes completely irrelevant analysis of the game at hand, EA could really have something.
Heisman is the freshest new addition to NCAA 13’s stable of modes, and offers 10 initial trophy winners, including Barry Sanders, Doug Flutie and Marcus Allen, to play through a modern season with a team of choice. Using the Reaction Time effect in the gameplay enhances what is already the exciting use of a classic player. This is where the central appeal of this game, or any sports game really, is showcased expertly – the feeling that you are stepping into a professional athlete’s shoes and living out the same legends that they did.
The biggest setback for what is a generally entertaining and polished representation of the NCAA experience, is the introduction of so many innovative gameplay elements, but next to no improvement in the surrounding modes. Other than the fantastic Heisman Mode and an improved online Dynasty mode, much of this seems like a re-tread. The frustrating menus, which are jittery in their controls and contain an anxiety-inducing level of load times between options, only serve to remind you of the ways NCAA 13 falls short of greatness. As with any genre of gaming, if the sequel doesn’t distance itself as a significantly improved, original and worthwhile experience, it flounders in the presence of the new.
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