EA Builds A Powerful Dynasty - NCAA Football 11 - Xbox 360 - www.GameInformer.com
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NCAA Football 11

EA Builds A Powerful Dynasty

They say success on the football field starts with the running game. With all the crazy multi-receiver and option formations in college football these days, this isn’t necessarily as true, but it’s a philosophy that NCAA Football 11 uses to great effect. The new locomotion running engine gives the game a powerful foundation, and it drives the franchise forward by offering a fluid experience every time you touch the ball. It’s one of the key components that takes this series to the next level.

The locomotion engine’s fluidity and realism transfer to the animations you see out of the ball carrier and the defenders tackling him as well. Instead of seeing a player pop in and out of specific right analog moves like in NCAA 10, such as a running back jumping hard left or right on a juke, movements in NCAA 11 are more precise. A player will gather his body, plant his feet, shift his weight, and then start accelerating again. It’s not all just a pretty-looking sequence, either. You can combo moves better than in NCAA 10, and you don’t even have to use the right analog special moves to reap the benefits of the new engine. Using just the left analog stick feels nice and smooth, and I feel like I can make small cuts and adjustments to follow my blockers and find daylight without having to sacrifice control, jack the right analog, or have an obvious running lane.

Offensive line blocking receives a boost thanks to reworked double-teams and edge blocking on sweeps – which you can now see diagrammed before the snap. That being said, it’s not perfect, and you’ll still see some boneheaded blockers miss their assignments. The most glaring mistake happens when backs try to step up and block on pass plays. This is hard to do when they just stand in your quarterback’s lap. These little annoyances (and some from year’s past – like magnet catches and canned interception animations) keep the game from being perfect, but they aren’t enough to spoil my enjoyment of the game as a whole.

NCAA’s dynasty recruiting is another area of the game that makes a big leap forward while still retaining some of its old flaws. Being able to do it all on your browser is a huge plus, and the improved feedback recruits offer lets you know exactly where your program and pitches stand in relation to the competition. That said, there’s no getting away from the fact that recruiting is still a grind, and if you want to get blue chippers you have to be willing to put the time in (or pay up the recruiting microtransactions). Despite these improvements, it’s confusing when you are awarded the same number of points for topics in which the recruit had differing levels of interest.

NCAA has its flaws, but with improved on-the-field action, recruiting, and presentation (including the option to generate custom stories on your Dynasty), for the first time in years I feel like I’m getting the college experience. I know what it feels like to be a man among boys when dodging tackles, shrugging off players, and breaking for the end zone. Saturday is no longer just a diversion before the pros take the field on Sunday. It’s a time to build dynasties, crush the competition, and bask in the glow of millions.

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Second Opinion:

8.75

<p>While college football struggles with a terrible BCS system, no playoffs, and crumbling conferences, its virtual gridiron counterpart is just starting to hit its stride. NCAA 11’s new locomotion engine puts the skill of Barry Sanders at your fingertips, making running backs feel like real threats every time they touch the ball. Revamped blocking mechanics help make formerly useless plays like draws and counters legit options for the first time. The refined gameplay is impressive, with the only standout issues being ranging linebackers picking off too many mid-range passes over the middle and the AI ineffectively running the option. Off the field, EA wisely retooled the recruiting mechanic to give you more feedback as to how your pitches stand in comparison to other schools, and the new Facebook-meets-ESPN Dynasty Wire is a great tool that lets hardcore online dynasty players chronicle their seasons. NCAA also makes a greater effort at capturing the minor details that make college football great, but the crowds still don’t look the part and the commentary is starting to sound stale. Minor annoyances aside, this is the best NCAA title in years.</p>

User Reviews:

  • 9.25
    This is a big a turnaround for this series. A lot of people (myself included) felt that NCAA 09 (the first year they had online dynasty) was a step towards getting this franchise back to the glory days of the PS2 and XBox versions, only to be followed by NCAA 10, which was a step back and had tons of...
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  • 9.25
    Before I start, let me explain something. I'm a hardcore football fan and hardcore sports gamer that fell off the bandwagon a few years ago. Every year I would rent, or if I had the money, buy the latest Madden or NCAA title. Between the two, I always preferred Madden. But with the release of EA...
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  • 7.75
    While I agree with Game Informer about the new locomotion engine, I feel that they have rated this year's version of NCAA Football entirely too high. Granted, I am referring to the factory settings of the game. I have not tweaked the game, but I am playing it as it was presented to me. I have played...
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  • 9.00
    I love NCAA football, but for the past few seasons I like my fellow NCAA fans have been forced to play subpar NCAA games. This season the focus was placed on line play for the first time I can ever remember. Now offensive and defensive line play the right sort of speed and movement. Now for the first...
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