For years, the NCAA Football franchise has been considered one of the best products EA Sports releases on an annual basis. And like any sports game, the challenge every year is to come up with something new to get fans excited for the latest iteration of the franchise.
While the standard gameplay is essentially the same as it’s been for years, the intriguing qualities of NCAA 13 lie in the details. When a quarterback throws to his receivers, for example, previous games had basically one standard motion while in the pocket and a few extra while on the run. NCAA 13 has so many new throwing motions it’d be hard to list them all, but my favorite is the extremely quick release on shorter passes. In previous versions no matter how long the throw, the quarterback always did a full wind up.
New sideline catch animations for the receivers and defensive backs are also a nice touch. Receivers have more realistic animations as they try to keep their feet in bounds. Likewise, defensive backs have new animations for swatting balls out of a receiver’s hands. Additionally, tackles look a bit more realistic in this year’s version, as ball carriers reacted more dynamically to being hit by multiple tacklers from different angles.
Dynasty Mode has a few new changes as well. During recruiting, players still have 10 allotted hours to recruit players on their recruiting board however they see fit. A new feature in recruiting is the ability to scout recruits. Though all recruits have a rating at the beginning of recruiting, taking the time to scout a player could reveal that the player is better or worse than their first ratings. Uncovering a rating +/- 6 from their projected rating classifies them as a Gem or Bust.
During games in Dynasty Mode, Studio Updates with Rece Davis give real-time updates for games across the nation. At times, Davis will even give analysis on how the scores in the Studio Update affect the teams in your game’s conference or national ranking. These updates don’t change gameplay any, but are good at adding to the realism of the NCAA experience.
In the Heisman Challenge, players are able to choose from 16 different past Heisman winners as you take them through the season to try to repeat their feats as a Heisman winner. After choosing a past winner and what team they’ll be playing for, you are given a list of accomplishments that directly correlate with your chosen Heisman winner. The more milestones you reach, the closer you get to taking home the hardware.
Lastly, during gameplay in the Heisman Challenge and the Road to Glory modes there is a new Reaction Time feature. Using accumulated reaction time slows down the play on the field, allowing you to pick out holes to run through or find open receivers. It’s a good feature in concept, but for me personally, I’ve been playing these games so long that slowing down the gameplay tends to throw off my timing, so after trying it once or twice I stopped altogether.
Overall, NCAA Football 13 is a solid game; the few additions it has are enough to warrant a superior rating. I’ve always preferred NCAA to Madden Football, and unless the folks at Madden absolutely blow me away, this game will stay on top of my list as the best football title this year.
CraveOnline received one advanced copy of NCAA Football 13 for the Xbox 360 from EA Sports. We were held to the embargo date of July 6th. Before starting our review, we played 15-20 hours of multiple play modes on All-American (hard) difficulty. We did not test the online multiplayer modes for this review.