Preview

NCAA Football 12

Continuing a Dynasty
by Matthew Kato on Apr 21, 2011 at 03:00 AM
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Tiburon
Release:
Rating: Everyone
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

 

NCAA was a better game than Madden last year, and it was partially due to what designer Ben Haumiller has called an all-encompassing approach to development. Instead of highlighting a marquee focus for the year, the NCAA team made sure that they made improvements in a wide swath of areas. It paid off then, and hopefully it'll do so again in NCAA 12. Haumiller promised additions to various areas of the game, including online dynasties and custom playbooks, but right now EA Sports is talking about two features in particular: the game's presentation and its new tackling system.

Last year, a big deal was made about a new visual presentation, and this year the improvements continue with a new lighting system that uses different layers of exposure to reveal extra player detail as well as provide a visual pop. Moreover, lots of work has been done to beef up the custom team entrances, whether that's the spear of Florida State's Chief Osceola or Colorado U's bison. Best of all, these will be shown from different angles each time to help keep them fresh.

For fans of schools without famous pre-game ceremonies, don't worry, your team won't lack excitement. The game's presentation as a whole is being improved through things like more of a presence from ESPN, bowl- and conference-specific intros, and end-of-quarter highlights just like on TV.

NCAA 12's new presentation is alluring enough, but arguably more important work is being done to the title's gameplay. Suction/magnet tackles, blocks, and catches have plagued both NCAA and Madden for years, and while Haumiller wouldn't say that the game contained a whole new physics system, it is clear that the it's much smarter about the way it runs animations.

Tackles don't initiate until a defender makes contact with the ball carrier, which not only cuts down on animations (which were sometimes also mismatched) from running too early and thus causing players from unnaturally sliding towards each other, but this new contact system also creates more realistic tackles.

Since tackles are no longer initiated until direct contact is made, naturally gamers' timing is going to be off when they go to lay a hit on the ball carrier. While the right analog hit stick remains, the game has also changed the dive tackle button to a more generic tackle button. Press it just before contact and your defender will break down in anticipation of contact. Thus, it will help wrap up and drive through the ball carrier.

You can apply these new interactions to other areas, whether it's offensive linemen moving their feet to actually engage a defender correctly or receivers catching passes. Haumiller showed off how this applied to WRs diving to catch balls. Since the game no longer slides receivers into position before they make the catch, diving at the right time can ensure you grab those balls thrown just out of reach.

Better AI zone play from your defenders has also been added to shore up some of the franchise's legacy issues, and this means that a linebacker or corner will now trail and shade receivers out of their zone before passing them along to the safeties.

According to Haumiller, these additions and improvements are just the tip of the iceberg, and if that's true, then the series will have likely once again followed a winning game plan to success.

For more on NCAA, check out the video below as well as our previous coverage including: