NCAA Football 14 – Game Analysis and Review
By Christopher Jester
Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: EA Sports
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Genre: American Football Simulation, NCAA College Football
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer or Single-player on-line
Each iteration of NCAA Football aims to improve upon something. Whether it is graphical or gameplay wise, the development team over at Tiburon has the fans in mind and that is a good thing. However, the issue with annual releases for sports games is that if there is not enough enhancement from its previous version, the game falls flat on its face. NCAA Football 14 may fall flat in some areas, but it has also made some tremendous advances in others.
If you’re a fan of football, you have to give Tiburon credit for one thing: they take pride in their football. College football has a tradition like no other collegiate sport. It is fun, innovative, and have an atmosphere that cannot be toppled. NCAA Football 14 delivers this in stunning fashion. From the stadium, to the mascots, to the interaction in the crowd, the atmosphere of the football college arena is displayed to near-perfection in NCAA Football 14.
But that is all just one part of it. Where NCAA Football 14 truly shines this year is within its gameplay. Football games are becoming more realistic every year. At some point, common fans may not be able to tell the difference. Tiburon’s use of the Infinity Engine makes the gameplay smoother, cleaner, and all-around fantastic to play with. From the multitude of camera angles with views that covers the whole field, players can immerse themselves in the game.
What is noticeable from the first time you snap the ball, players interact very lifelike. The axiom that football is a game of inches has never been truer. On a third and 1 play, a running back has to fight for that one yard. Cutbacks and option plays become so useful this year because the running game has stepped up. No longer are you dependent on the arm of the quarterback.
Running no longer feels like a luck of the draw whether you get one yard or breakaway for a touchdown. The Infinity Engine is most useful here as players can shred tackles with a new combo running system. Juking and other running back actions can combine to make the running more dynamic. It becomes easier to leave a defender behind and continue to rush down the field for yards. A shredded tackle may leave the player stumbling and readjusting themselves for those last few yards to gain but all of it simply brings a much more entertaining running system, where previous games has centered on the quarterback and the passing game. This time around, players will find themselves using their running backs and fullbacks more effectively.
The other major overhaul is in Dynasty mode. They attempted to streamline the recruiting portion of the game. Instead of making phone calls, you simply spin weekly allotted points on players you want to recruit. This helps the player know more about potential recruit’s strengths, weaknesses, how they feel about the school, academics, and more. Additionally, the player will spend less time behind the scenes and more on the field playing the game. What assists in both areas is the ability for your coach to gain XP points. Even the Offensive and Defensive coordinators can gain points to help their perspective part of the coaching scheme.
As previously mentioned, presentation plays a large part of what makes NCAA Football more fun. Capturing that college atmosphere whether through the new camera angles or the pre or post-scene animations. The latter is where this game fails. This game still features some of the same animations from NCAA Football 12 and so on. After a game is finished, coaches still come over to shake each other hands. This may not have been a problem if the animation was not the exact same. A new angle or a different way to clasp hands would have helped here. The crowd still looks stiff, and also do the same cheers. The player faces in Dynasty mode and Road to Glory are still very generic, where more than one player will look eerily similar. These sort of issues lower the uniqueness of the game’s key game modes.
The ultimate problem is those lack of changes or laziness in innovation derails what could have been a game that reinvigorated the NCAA Football franchise. Some will surely claim that this is more of a DLC improvement than a new and improved game. You cannot cry foul on anyone who says that, because the game did plug and play various portions of the game without changing animations, etc. But this may not be Tiburon’s fault, this could simply be the issue with annual game releases.
There are still other modes that fans of the game can become lost in. The new Nike Skills Trainer is a good way to up your talent. Building the ultimate team has never been better in Ultimate Team mode. Road To Glory is back with little to no changes, but it is still fun to take your player from humble beginnings to potential Heisman winner. If only they added some more RPG elements like becoming a Johnny Manziel type star, where partying between the week and game day affects the player’s performance. Well, here’s hoping for next year, right?
NCAA Football 14 has shown improvements that if taken in the right direction will renovate the franchise. However, this is not likely to happen on current-gen systems. Its innovations in the gameplay truly excites and only stimulates what is to come from future sports games. The series may be tried and worn out, because Tiburon cannot make many changes from year to year, without upsetting some fans and pleasing others. That is the dilemma with sports games. Regardless, there is fun to be he had here but it will take some ignorance to look past some of its glaring faults.
PunchDrunkGamer Score: 7.8
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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