Slightly Off Topic: EA Sports NCAA Football 2013 Review

SAN FRANCISCO CA - JANUARY 09: Mike Ball #5 of the Nevada Wolf Pack is pushed out of bounds by Luke Kuechly #40 of Boston College during the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park on January 9 2011 in San Francisco California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Hello all! I'm going to give you my review of the newest EA Sports video game, NCAA Football 2013. I was one of the people who couldn't wait for the game to come out and purchased the EA Season Ticket for 25 bucks. The Ticket allows you to play many EA Sports video games 3 days early via download. The titles included last year were NCAA, Madden, FIFA, NHL, and Tiger Woods. The Ticket also gets the user a discount when purchasing in-game digital content.

But on to the game. In my opinion, this game is the best of the NCAA Football games I have ever played. The new animations are so freakin' crisp and realistic this year. I actually could just play offense the whole time, as the passing offense is fluid and efficient, allowing for precise passing and some pretty amazing highlight-reel catches. But, there's even more for me to cover. So read on!

Presentation

For starters, the presentation is one of the best I have seen in a sports game. The pre-game festivities are unique to each team, and most teams have their own unique entrance. In addition, the whole game is brought to you as if you were watching College GameDay. In Dynasty mode, for example, the broadcast will cut away to give you updates on other games going on that day (and oftentimes the games can have implications on your own season, or BCS implications). In addition, the in-game commentators are head and shoulders above Madden with Kirk Herbstreit, Brad Nessler, and Erin Andrews (cuts in with injury updates). I must say, Madden last year was one of the worst I have ever heard with Gus Johnson and Chris Collinsworth. Not only did the commentary lag behind many times, but it wouldn't make sense in most situations, such as Gus Johnson freaking out with a 3 yard run. NCAA, while not perfect, at least won't make you vomit every time you hear the announcers talk.

Gameplay

The game offers a revamped passing offense, changing the way receivers react to their quarterbacks. As I stated earlier, this is one of the most crisp and fluid passing games to date. The receivers no longer make the catches where you are sitting there thinking "he could have easily caught that on the run! Instead he stopped!". Receivers will make the catch on the run if possible, and will attempt to make the catches in bounds, rather than the frustrating moments in the past where the receiver had plenty of room yet still found a way to get out of bounds. My only complaint is that the receiver's will sometimes go out of bounds after making the catch even when they are in the open field and have about 5 yards of space between themselves and the sideline. It doesn't happen all the time, but its cost me plenty of touchdowns!

It doesn't stop there. The passing offense allows the user to be able to drop the ball between coverages. No longer will you need to choose between the "fly ball" lob and the laser pass. The trajectory of the ball can be adjusted, allowing the quarterback to get the ball over the linebackers, rather than the always frustrating "super jump interceptions" that occurred because the quarterback couldn't get the ball high enough. And one more cool feature, no longer can an opposing player make crazy throws on the run. This game encourages the user to set their feet (stop moving) and throw the ball. Otherwise the ball can get overthrown or underthrown, depending on how far it is thrown.

And then there's the defense. In this year's game, the defense is labeled as "read-and-react". What this means is that the defense must be able to SEE the ball in order to make a play on it. Gone are the days where the corner will turn around, locate the ball, and intercept it in under a second. If a defensive player isn't looking, they aren't going to be able to do a whole lot. And it works vice-versa with the receivers. The corresponding button over the receivers head will be grayed out if they aren't looking for the ball. While the ball can be thrown here if you want to time up the cuts with the receiver, sometimes the receiver may not catch the ball if they don't see it in time.

Dynasty

Honestly, I could inform you about all of the new changes in Dynasty, but as a simple video game fan, I have to say it hasn't changed that much. That being said, many of the scouting and recruiting systems have been added to. New pitches and the ability to improve your school's ratings in certain areas will allow for it to keep fresh for longtime fans, but the mode is still solid, as it was last season. The "studio" will keep you updated during the season while you are playing games. And the Online Dynasty has now included mobile apps and other forms of media in order to track online dynasties outside of the game. One issue I have is that you cannot download your outgoing alumni to use as draft classes for Madden this year. I really don't know why they decided to take that out this season, but Madden also will lack the fantasy drafts in franchise mode.

Road to Glory

Not much has changed in this mode either. You can still create a player at just about every position, play through high school playoffs, and get recruited to a school. In this mode you will be increasing your skills at practice and camps before the season begins, and then taking your talents to the field. Still a solid mode if you are sick of playing Dynasty.

Heisman Challenge

This mode is completely new to the series. In Heisman Challenge, you get to choose from one of many former Heisman winners, put them on any team that you want, and play full seasons in order to try and beat their old records. I was using Barry Sanders for this mode, and it is pretty awesome. They give you a list of all of the achievements you want to try and replicate, and you go out and play. For me, when using Barry Sanders, you are on the field as much as possible, taking kickoffs and punts while almost never leaving the field on offense. My problem with this mode and Road to Glory (at least from the running back's point of view, as a quarterback you can change the plays and have access to some other parts of the playbook) is that you can't change the play AT ALL unless you are the quarterback. They do still give running backs a boatload of carries, but I would think you'd give the ball to Barry Sanders on the goal line rather than running a full-back dive!

This mode is very solid. You get the ability to slow the play down in order to give yourself more reaction time. The camera stays zoomed in on you no matter what is happening on the field. This can be frustrating for running backs and receivers, because you can't really see if the ball is going to be thrown to you and can make it difficult to throw a block. Having the ability to slow down time makes this a little more bearable, but it can be frustrating and will require getting used to.

Heisman Challenge list:

Marcus Allen

Doug Flutie

Eddie George

Robert Griffin III

Desmond Howard

Carson Palmer

Barry Sanders

Charlie Ward

Andre Ware

Herschel Walker

Tim Brown (acquired from playing the demo)

Archie Griffin (demo)

Jim Plunkett (demo)

Mark Ingram (preorder with GameStop)

Matt Leinart (GameStop)

Tim Tebow (GameStop) (Ugh)

Sidenote: No, Cam Newton will not be available as of now. He might be available as future downloadable content, but no announcement nor indication has been made to allude to this.

Conclusion

Definitely my favorite NCAA game to date in terms if overall gameplay. With a few modes, I felt like they were under the mindset of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". Heisman Challenge was a very nice addition. My words to you are these:

If you like football games, definitely pick this game up. If you've played football games and just don't like them, I doubt your going to change your mind with this game. If you've never played a sports game, rent it. But my overall evaluation, being an avid gamer (I actually work at GameStop) is that this is one of the better football games I've played. If you're like me and are just chomping at the bit for the new NFL season, this will definitely help pass the time!

-C2SAD

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