The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.