Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to my first game review that isn’t for a game that has been out for at least three or four years. Today we’ll be having a look at NCAA Football 12, the newest edition in the long running college football series.
In recent years, EA has been working on improving their presentation in a continuing effort to make it more and more like an ESPN broadcast, and this year is no different. From the beginning intro scenes to the actual game presentations, EA continues to take steps forward in the visual department. Unfortunately, the commentary seems to be stuck in 2010. On the plus side, a number of various animations have been improved. Two of the biggest improvements I picked up on were tackling animations, and the, wait for it, grass on the field. What can I say, it looks really good.
Also new this year were the much publicized Coaching Carousel and the ability to customize conferences. We could make swaps on conferences last year, but they had to be even one for one trades so to speak. This year, we can build 16 team super conferences, set cross divisional rivalries, decide if your conference plays week night games, and set up BCS tie-ins. Damn, no playoff option.
With all that covered, let’s jump in to some some of the features shall we?
Dynasty starts out much as it has for the past several years. The pre-season option to set up your recruiting board, customize your schedule, red shirt players, and set your depth chart. The season plays out as in years past as well, complete with random celebrity names for some recruits. Case in point, in my test dynasty, I missed out on a four star running back named Michael Jackson. Fear not though, I did pick up the long lost Baldwin brother.
During the off season is where we see the new additions, the coaching carousel and the ability to make conference changes. All told it was a somewhat successful season for all the simulating I did. Obviously, like many people, I took my favorite team. In my case that was the Virginia Tech Hokies. Wound up making some adjustments to my non-conference schedule, and ended up dropping one of those games to South Carolina, followed up by losses to Miami and then to NC State in the ACC Championship game. My boys did rebound to win the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against Mississippi State. Ended up finishing 11-3 and ranked 12th in the country. Very similar to a typical Hokie season as of late. Not typical of a Hokie season, I brought in the top ranked recruiting class with a pair of five star commitments and 15 that were four star prospects.
If I had more time before this writing, I would have tested out the custom conference feature by adding a couple of teams, and I think I will be doing just that when I start my actual dynasty later this week.
The Online Dynasty is similar to the offline Dynasty, other than you can play along with your friends or just random gamers from across the country or from around the world. Unfortunately for me, my internet sucks so I think I’m going to have to “retire” from the league I’m in. Aside from my horrid internet, and the typical EA server issues, it is a fun feature.
Road to Glory
Another feature that was expanded upon was the Road to Glory. New this year is the ability to play through your senior year of high school in addition to the playoffs. I decided to give it a go as a defensive end since I played a little end back when I was in school, and looking back I wish I could have spent more time at that spot. I don’t really care for the camera angle I got stuck with for this excursion, and I ended up struggling for the first half of the season. I was able to step it up a bit in the second half of the year and wound up being a three star end, with a few nice scholarship offers.
I ended up not earning an offer from Virginia Tech, though I could have walked on as a second stringer. Instead, I took an offer from Tennessee to be a second stringer. After two weeks, I had enough coach trust points to challenge for the starting spot. As a warm up to that challenge, I ended up getting most of the snaps in the week two match-up against Cincinnati as the result of an injury. Sadly, the Volunteer’s offense is awful and they could not score, and we lost the game 10-2. In my position challenge, much like my high school season, I started off a little slow, then picked up the pace and won the job on, fittingly, a huge sack of the Vols QB. Did seem a little unfair that I got to go against the terrible Tennessee offense in order to win this job, but nevertheless, it is now mine.
All told, this is a fantastic installment in the NCAA Football series. I would really like to see them give us the option of finishing the season with a playoff instead of the current set up, but as long as we are stuck with the BCS, that just will not happen. There are some issues with the game as usual, freezing problems, server connection issues, but most of the problems should be fixed with the patch that normally comes out around a month after release.