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Two Full Days In, My Early Pre Review Thoughts on NCAA 13 Stuck
Posted on July 8, 2012 at 11:28 AM.

NCAA Football 13 isn't a great game. It's just not. There are way too many things wrong with the title and way too much in context (aka the now antiquated physics within the game) to give this game too much credit. Of course, also just as big of a negative for the game are the things it could do great and doesn't and just settles in with good to merely solid: presentation, existing gameplay, dynasty mode, etc.

But don't get me wrong, NCAA Football is still a good game for sure, as it hasn't really regressed from last year's extremely solid effort -- if you could stomach the major bugs that is. I think the problem is that NCAA 13 is familiar and isn't breaking any boundaries to the upside and a lot of the same problems that have plagued the series this generation are still present and probably won't be going away so long as the current engine is used.

I want to be a believer in the game, because I really feel like the quality is the highest it has been -- but I also think that the game hasn't taken a sizeable step forward which IMO shows the age of the engine and the theoretical approach to the game more than anything. This engine is tapped out and Madden NFL 13 had better show it's much better than what we have or EA Football is in for a long season of very vocally angry fans. But that's a column for another day.

As far as NCAA's what has stood out to me thus far.

  • The few new animations I saw were very well done. However, I find it hard to really get hyped up for any new tackles, etc. with Madden's mojo coming around the corner.
  • Total control passing (left stick leading of receivers) is a great, great feature and finally allows you to pass as you should be passing. I can't overstate how impressed I am by it, it's almost 'too' good in the sense that the AI isn't caught up with the extra amount of control you have.
  • At first the studio updates are really freaking cool....
  • ...then they become perfectly skippable but still add some nice value especially when you see a game unfold via studio updates...
  • I'm a believer in the passing icons. I'm finding that they're lighting up when I'd throw the ball anyways. But regardless, it's a good step in the right direction, a solid gameplay enhancement.
  • Game 'feels' good. It is definitely tighter this year and faster, and has a bit more of an arcadey feel I think, which will turn off some. In fact I think the default game speed is faster than reality, which probably isn't good for sim-heads. But just the overall feel of the game is pretty solid.
  • Running game feels much better. 20+ yard plays are even more rare this year than last. I could break 20 yarders with some regularity last year, this year it feels more rare when the teams are pretty evenly matched.
  • Dynasty mode, at first glance, seems solid. Solid enough at least. But I've only just began.
  • New stadium sounds sound good, but way too soft.
  • I have to go back to the feel of the game, while yes it is flawed it still feels pretty solid. There's something to be said for shutting up and playing...if you are a fan of the franchise and have liked the series on this generation you will undoubtedly be pleased with this year's effort if you expect the wheel to not be reinvented.
  • Game variety is good. You will play several different types of games which is a testament to quality. I have played shootouts and blowouts and low scoring close games. This is a definite testament to the game's balance.
  • Blitz packages work better this year vs. last. You get pressure/pressured a bit easier this year, which is a good thing because that's what blitzes are supposed to do.
  • I guess with that in mind, there is a pass rush this season but it comes at a price, more on that later.
  • A lot of my gripes to follow can probably be balanced with sliders, I haven't delved into them and don't know if I will before I release my review. That's such a philosophical thing to reviews...we've reviewed games out of the box for years, I'll probably do the same for this year's game.
  • Computer AI does use moves and seems to have stick skills, for lack of a better term.
  • Heisman seems to be the 'best' mode on default thus far, but with good slider sets I'm sure All-American will have a go at it as well.

  • ...then the studio updates become downright annoying when you hear the same lines twice in a game. Plus there is no way to really keep track of what else is going on within Dynasty mode, I don't me Dynasty mode has tried something really ambitious here but the design of the whole mode doesn't fit what the developers said they wanted to do. It's impossible to know what happened during the week without actually checking things out and sometimes that's really hard to do as a lot of what you want is buried in the menus. The whole presenting Saturday's as a storyline is cool in theory (it was one of my top wishes for this year's game) -- but it needs to be done differently. A complete revamp of the mode is necessary -- at least the menus -- to achieve this.
  • Wayyyy too much dead space with commentary, the presentation as a whole is just not up to par with it's peers in our genre although it is better than last year.
  • Seriously, it's time to rethink defense. It's just boring and doesn't work how real football defense is played. On top of that, there's nothing to do and it feels just put in -- especially now after a decade of the same old boring thing.
  • Apparently, Brent Venables taught the NCAA Football 13 team all about safety play because receivers run right past them into the open field. Vertical routes with fast receivers are nothing but money, it's horrendous.
  • What is NCAA Football 13 simulating on the field? Seriously. SOMEONE FIGURE THIS OUT! Are you watching a TV broadcast? A cinematic presentation of college football? Are you watching it as if you were playing in the stadium? You CAN NOT do all three. All of the great games in our genre pick a style and mimick it and their presentations are much better than NCAA's. I just feel like NCAA tries to do everything and as a result does nothing well in presentation.
  • The line play isn't all that great once again (surprised? not I). While there is actually a pass rush this year, it doesn't come at the expense of a collapsing pocket but instead it's like the offensive line 'whiffs' at the block and there is a jailbreak to the QB. The problem I see here are there simply aren't enough animations in line play to accurately depict how it works. Seriously, this is becoming a huge problem with the franchise and hurts the rest of the game because developers try to overcompensate in other areas (like QB accuracy and RB ability) in order to make up for what is simply poorly modeled line play.
  • Sack totals. I've had games on All American where I recorded over 10 sacks. That's not going to fly. Screen passes are especially problematic.
  • "There aren't penalties in football except for the occasional holding and offsides!" - Anyone who's only experience with football was through NCAA Football 13.
  • There are more plays than just screen plays and deep passes computer AI. Seriously. The A.I. Playcalling is absolutely atrocious from what I'm seeing in the early going. Or maybe it's just the AI's execution? Regardless, the AI seems way off this year when it comes to running an offense.
  • Computer running the option...I think there isn't a more ugly thing in the world.
  • Heisman FG Logic is still busted. Computer attempted a 58 yarder on me in my lone Heisman foray thus far.
  • Still clipping issues, I have players running through each other and such at least once or twice a game. It's 2012.
  • Really a lot of the same bugs are back from prior years. This is maddening.
# 1 mpt54 @ Jul 8
I'm not able to play NCAA Football 13 yet but after reading this i'm kind of nervous about it. I'm hoping it might be worth the $45
# 2 fsufan4423 @ Jul 8
Wow! That brutal. Get here fast Madden 13
# 3 jWILL253 @ Jul 8
Yeah, I agree with everything in this post. To me, the ugliest parts of this game are the safety play and the CPU Option. I'm no programmer, but it's hard to think they could go this long with the CPU Option remaining a problem.

And, the safety play is terrible. Now, it may be a ratings/sliders thing, as I couldn't even make some of the more basic throws against powerhouses like Alabama. But, last night, I was using the Huskies, going against the Cougars for the Apple Cup. I called a play in the Ace 4WR Trio formation (or something like that, can't remember the specific formation or play used), and I had my TE, Slot WR, and and my X receiver running crossing routes. I know that crossing routes are the bread and butter of football right now, but they aren't supposed to be that effective against a Cover 2 Zone, which is what the Cougs were running on that play. But, one look at what the safeties and CB's were doing would have you think differently. I was able to complete it to my COMPLETELY WIDE OPEN TE down the sideline for a 70-yd TD...
# 4 johnnyg713 @ Jul 8
completely agree on defense not being fun. They need to give the user more control.
# 5 jWILL253 @ Jul 8
EDIT: They actually are effective against both zone and man coverage (in theory), but not THIS effective. And, they weren't all running crossing routes. My Slot was running the crossing route, the X was running a deep post, and my TE was running a go route. Sorry, had to correct myself...
# 6 sars973 @ Jul 8
Writes 4 sentences about how bad the game is. Then writes 1 sentence saying it's still good.

# 7 WhiteMan22 @ Jul 8
Madden will save us all.
# 8 TreyIM2 @ Jul 8
Heck, I didn't even know I was still able to get this early with my pass from last year. Crept on the PSN store and found it chillin'. Nice. Started d-loading it a about 10 min ago so it will be done in about 145min...and that doesn't include the install. Great.
# 9 Mazarati 2012 @ Jul 8
I agree with this post and also I must add that there is no way a linebacker should be able to cover a slot receiver on fly pattern step for step...that's ridiculous....
# 10 leathrneck34 @ Jul 8
Yea, the line play is ugly but , I can see where they have improved a tiny bit. My DE's still have trouble getting pressure on the QB but LB's can get back there when blitzing which I guess really isn't anything new. The safeties are really bad in any zone coverage and get beat on deep passes alot even against weaker teams. however if you don't mind taking control of safeties to ensure atleast one side of the field is taken care of and you have corners and an AI that is playing well you can stop alot of the deep stuff. Also I have found turning the game speed to slow and player min speed threshold to 0 like last year makes the game seem much more fluid and life like. I have found that the slider set from last year work just the same with this years although it does need a little tweaking here and there. And I'm not sure but I don't there there is anything you can do about dumb safeties.
# 11 cmehustle @ Jul 8
Dam, before I read this I was pretty set on getting NCAA this season. Now Im definetly gonna wait for a bit and may even skip it altogether...just disappointed with the same stuff year in and year out. Line play and WR/DB interaction needs to be a priority next year or I will just 2k it up once again.
# 12 TreyIM2 @ Jul 8
Oh, gunna cherry pick this break down based on the demo - Agree 100% with the amazing list. Even seeing the ESPN ticker does something pleasant to my brain.

The goods here, I can still agree with the updates based on that demo. The passing icons, actually, do NOTHING for me. I don't pay them any mind. I think my passing game has improved immensely over the years so I don't need them and would find them more of a distraction because you can become "stuck" looking and waiting for a particular receiver's icon to light up.

The feel of the game is a bit fast in the demo. Can't wait to slow it down when this got-dern early release finishes d-loading (heading to the gym, anywayz)and, yes, I want to play with da sliders, too...

The bads, yes, those updates were annoying in the demo. Sad they're still the same way in the retail game, which I felt was gunna happen...Commentary, yea, seen that coming, too...Line play, AGREED!! I think we all knew THAT wasn't changing because EA didn't make it a focus this year. I think it's ridiculous but we have next year.

I'll leave it there. I think now that EA has bigger teams on both NCAA and Madden, good things are taking shape and will just take some time. I just hope there isn't another back slide in the leap to next gen like there was to this gen.
# 13 DJ @ Jul 8
This is only 2 days in ... yikes.
# 14 MMChrisS @ Jul 8
Updated the intro and edited a few items. Will probably add a few through the day and will make note of it here. I try to stress that the game isn't bad, it's just the same old thing, just refined from last year...which is either really good or really bad depending on your stance.
# 15 PAPERNUT @ Jul 8
Good to see some honest feedback for a change. I expect nothing less from the OS staff, but outside of here it is all praise and pr for the most part.

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