The lights are on
Many ways exist to improve a yearly franchise like NCAA Football, and the development team at EA Tiburon has a number of things on its wish list for NCAA Football 13. Today it unveiled the first details about the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 title coming on June 10.
For those of you wondering about all-important gameplay changes for NCAA 13 – don't worry – they are forthcoming. EA Sports tells us big changes are in store for the passing game, but for the first batch of details the studio wanted to focus on presentation changes.
Different football programs' various traditions and quirks are some of the things that makes college football so fun, and EA Tiburon is always looking for more ways to tap into the college vibe.
NCAA 13 does this in a couple ways. Building on the school-specific touches from previous years, NCAA 13 adds USC's Song Girls as well as Texas' distinctly dressed cheerleaders. New mascots are coming to the sidelines as well, including the Texas A&M dog Reveille, and mascots are being given new antics like parachuting into stadiums. Since Battlefield 3 borrowed elements of the ANT animation system EA Sports uses for its titles, DICE returned the favor by allowing EA Tiburon to use its paratrooper animations to make sure the airborne drops look right.
Ever since the introduction of rivalry trophies, fans of the series have clamored for celebration sequences for these emotional victories. This year players grab the trophies in jubilation, whether it be the Old Brass Spittoon that Michigan and Indiana play for or the BCS trophy.
Schools use of multiple alternate uniforms (like Nike's Pro Combat unis) are great for the fans, but it creates a moving target for EA Tiburon as it attempts to keep up with an unveiling process shrouded in secrecy by the schools. Although the day-one disc includes some of the alternate uniforms being used in the upcoming season, the development team is still considering the right way to deliver the unannounced jerseys. EA wouldn't clarify whether it plans to sell these as paid-DLC or release them via free updates.
NCAA 13 builds on the foundation of NCAA 12 improvements by improving to the high-dynamic range (HDR) lighting introduced last year. This brings more depth and variation to colors on the field, brightening them as they are bathed in light and dimming them when players pass through shadows.
The game also introduces motion-blur and evolving lighting passes that occur per play instead of only at the beginning of a new quarter. The time of day no longer suddenly skips forward from bright sun to dusk at the beginning of the third quarter.
While the addition of motion-blur could be one of those small details that ends up making a big difference, these additions could also end up being just minor blips for the back of the game box.
In past NCAA titles, EA Tiburon recorded the crowd audio by rounding up a group of developers in the studio's nearby parking garage for the echo and having everyone yell their lungs out. The resulting audio was then padded out in the studio.
NCAA 13's crowd audio is being created with a new crowd mix using tech from EA Canada that integrates ESPN's on-field audio feed. The difference between the two is noticeable, with this year's crowd chants containing more depth of sound. Specifically, I enjoy the fact that you can hear what sounds like random crowd noise mixed in with the chanters, making it sound like a spontaneous, free-form occurrence. In all, EA Tiburon recorded 24 new chants for the game, including specific chants for Ohio State, Pitt, Virginia Tech, LSU, Georgia, Arkansas, and many more.
Most importantly, EA has re-recorded commentary from mainstays Kirk Herbstreit and Brad Nessler. Not only will you hear more lines from each, but EA identified repetitive passages in NCAA 12 (like after sacks, during punts, etc.) and made sure that for NCAA 13 the duo delivers more varied audio during these natural chokepoints. To further diversify the commentary, EA Tiburon is promising more in-game teaching moments by Kirk and Brad, as well as references to previous events in the games. This could be anything from mentioning a blown lead or recalling an early turnover that now holds added significance.
Stay tuned for gameplay details from EA Sports in mid-April.
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