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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Quick Review: NCAA Football 12'

Gameplay - 9.0
The controls for NCAA Football 12 are pretty much exactly the same as in the previous titles, which isn't a bad thing.  The controls are simple and intuitive and should be able to be picked up easily by newcomers to the series.  Suction tackling is a thing of the past which is a big step forward.  Blocking, running, tackling, receiving, etc all look and feel great.  The defensive A.I. is a lot more competent this year and on higher difficulties can be a real pain - but this is a good thing; I haven't had one game yet where I won 74-0.  The offensive A.I., however, makes some questionable decisions from time to time.  I've seen multiple instances where quarterbacks throw the ball away while under minimal to no pressure and I've had coaches in Road to Glory call running plays while we were down by a touchdown in our own territory with no timeouts left and less than a minute remaining.  These minor issues aside, the overall gameplay is superb.

Game Modes/Presentation - 9.0
There is no shortage of things to do in NCAA Football 12, although most are just different ways of enjoying the core football gameplay (obviously).  Coach Mode, which lets you choose which plays the team of your choice will run while you watch the end result, is fun but would be better if you could coach against a friend instead of the A.I.  The two main returning modes are pretty much the same as in the past but offer some new additions.  Dynasty introduces the new Coaching Carousel which allows you to step in as an offensive or defensive coordinator and control one side of the game in hopes of eventually landing a job as a head coach.  Road to Glory now allows you to play both sides of the field during an entire high school season while you get recruited separately based on your performance of both.  There is definitely fun to be had regardless of which mode(s) you choose to play.  

NCAA really stepped up the presentation this year by incorporating the unique, real-life pre-game traditions and entrances for certain teams.  The pre-game presentations for Bowl Games are also well done, which is more than I can say about the post-game celebrations.  The replays are awesome at first but quickly become annoying since they pretty much pop up after every first down.

Graphics - 8.5
The graphics look great this year and especially shine through in the replays, where the 'broadcast camera' captures the character models and new 3-D grass perfectly.  Crowds & background objects (such as trees), however, seem static and lifeless.  The crowd can be heard cheering and chanting but almost appear to be standing motionless pre-snap.    

Sound - 8.0
Kirk Herbstreit and Brad Nessler are back in the booth again and although the commentary feels stale and outdated they get the job done.  The sounds of the cheering from the crowd are pretty good but not excellent.  The on-the-field sounds have little variation and most hits, regardless of how hard, sound the same. 

Online - 7.5*
EA has, for the umpteenth time, released a video game with mode-crippling bugs & issues still prevalent.  We have been forced to abandon multiple Online Dynasties due to freezing that has prevented us from advancing.  The first few nights also saw us literally waiting in line to upload our dynasty information to the server.  EA has acknowledged the issue and confirmed they are working on fixing it.  The hours spent during which we were actually able to play the online dynasty were enjoyable; importing a created team and duking it out with your friend and his/her created team is a load of fun, as is battling against each other and cpu-controlled teams for prospects.  Being able to create & save up to five highlights per game for your friends to see is also a nice touch.  There was noticeable lag (mainly during kickoffs, punts, and field goals) but it varied from game to game.  The Online Dynasty is infinitely more intriguing than the Madden counterpart, which EA recently confirmed has not been touched in Madden 12 and will still lack trade & free-agent logic.  If the sole reason for buying either one is to play in an online dynasty with your buddies than you may want to pick up NCAA 12.  Outside of Online Dynasty you can also play both ranked and unranked matches against other members of the online community.    

Final Score:  8.5

*Please note that this score was given during a time when the developer acknowledged they were at work on correcting some of the issues with the online play modes.  This score may be revisited and changed accordingly once all issues have been ironed out.

By Mahervin Slick

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