Its July, which means one thing: the new seasons for fall sports begin their annual releases. The question usually following the excitement is will it make substantial changes or remain primarily the same? EA Tiburon has put together NCAA Football 13 with new features and tweaked ideas, but just as NCAA 11 developed huge changes so has 13.
The foundation of the gridiron has changed in the passing game. Defensively, the corners and safeties follow a read-and-react system. They respond to the release of the football on a pass by going up for the ball as often as the receiver, making the pump fake more useful than ever before. Without the need to control the corners to cover every play the game feels more lifelike. No more linebackers with impossible leaping INTs or teleporting wide receivers. With this system, zones now work the way they drawn up in the playbooks. Each player covers a spot, but waits patiently for the release of the football to close on pass. When the ball goes up in the air, it truly is a 50-50 ball as defenders are always lurking for a pick. The strategies become more important, because now telling zone coverage to cover short or deep will determine who is left open the longer the play continues. Just as zone is vulnerable on the real gridiron, targets will be easier to find in NCAA 13, because zone covers the field and not the recievers so mask the defense well.
Quarterbacks have their own counter to the new defense with placement control. Previous NCAA’s promoted control, but it ended with which shoulder and if it was a lob or a laser. Now each pass has its placement in relation to the receiver with each movement of the stick. It creates an entertaining flow to break the newly created defenses and gives the greatest QBs a larger gap of accuracy from the rest. All new animations reveal where each pass placement connects, leaving room for constant improvement.
On the topic of animations, tackling is now leaning more on realistic physics instead of the basic contact = tackle formula. Now the momentum of each player goes into effect and now more than before can gamers feel the potential to break a tackle each play. This also starts to have an effect on the juke. Most jukes create contact, but if the tackle is not strong enough the juke did its job avoiding the tackle.
There are many on the field changes in this year’s game, but the first noticeable change is the graphics. The lighting from the stadium appears to change every year, tweaking it for the better. This time on initial glance the game seems to have lost some detail, but up close NCAA 13 makes every player feel more alive. The usual upgrade of commentary and post-play animations shows the unique new look to this year’s graphical touches.
NCAA 13 did not stop at on the field changes. New features like Heisman challenge create another change of pace from the create-a-player concept. Now along with create-a-player, gamers can play as a former Heisman winner on any of today’s teams. Robert Griffin III along with greats like Charlie Ward, Barry Sanders and your own digital self each have a bullet-time ability to use. It is great for the few remaining seconds before a big juke or being under pressure in the pocket. NCAA 13 allots a certain amount of time based on player’s status and each second used is replaced only through yards, first downs and points.
Dynasty has also been tweaked focusing around feeling connected to the rest of the country. Recruiting now appeals to the current season instead of feeling separated from each week’s games. Recruiting pitches are changed weekly and are based on big wins/losses, other prospects and player performance. Most important for recruiting they have finally added an adaptable top ten list for each recruit. Scouting has also appeared in the recruiting section to avoid the busts. It is basic and just adds another selection in the recruit option. Nonetheless, it is an addition that will surely be improved upon with each annual release. Each school can also change its pitch grades now and understand how to improve or maintain it with the My School Screen. When playing each week, gamers will now know the repercussions from other games around the country with in-game updates during your game.
This year’s addition is a great improvement towards the overall goal of complete realism. There will always be room for improvement, but NCAA is always looking for the much deserved love and attention its older brother Madden receives. The multiplayer could still use some improvement and needs to hone in on its online identity. These improvements can always be set for another year, because this game was a strong step forward.