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NCAA 13

 

NCAA 13

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Sports
 
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NCAA is hitting the consoles once again with the latest offering in NCAA 13. College football madness without the fear of a hangover the next day? Sounds good, or does it? Well you're about to find out.

Graphics

I'll say that the graphics in this EA Sports game have really stepped up. This game is gorgeous with lighting on the helmets, and different lighting that comes from the day changing from noon to night as times goes on. The stadiums have improved a lot to resemble their real life counterparts which helps to draw you into the experience even more, especially during some of the rivalry matches such as the border war between Kansas University and Missouri University; if you never had a chance to attend a real one then this is pretty close.

While in-game graphics really stand out during the instant replays, there is a nice motion blur effect that helps add to the realism of it. Granted it's not photo realistic, but it's definitely getting there. It's almost like they took one of the crytek engines and applied it to this game. Of course not all that glitters is gold because the crowds are still 2D sprites or really generic 3D models depending on where the camera is pointing within a match. During a play the crowd is nothing but a set of 2D sprites with some movement so they don’t look completely lifeless. At the end of a play when the camera closes in to the quarterback, or whichever player made a good play, the crowd will switch to the generic 3D models synced together in some sort of creepy zombie way. Eventually the game will show close-ups of the crowd and they are detailed wearing the home team's jersey, hoodies and caps. Definitely a sight for the eyes.

Sound

The audio in this game, while as simplistic as can be for a sports game, is actually quite a treat. The sounds of the crowd going wild when the favoured team gets a lead or the booing when the opposing team gains one, is awesome. The sounds of the marching bands also help draw you in more to the NCAA experience. You could just stay on the menu to hear some of the schools' themes being played but that would be pointless and you would miss all of the sweet football action.

There are a few hiccups in the audio and I wasn't sure if it was the system I was playing or if it was the game not loading fast enough, such as after a big play. Mind you it doesn't happen all the time; the crowd or the casters (sometimes both) will just cut out for a bit while the players are jumping around celebrating and then come back a few seconds later after a stutter as if the game has to "buffer" the sound again, like it was running on Realplayer (remember that?). Also, sometimes the casters go on a rant about some story after a play and will not stop talking two to three plays later. You could gain 10 yards and two plays later after you score a hail Mary touchdown and the casters will still be telling a story. Eventually everything goes back to normal and they do their play-by-play on the game but it's kind of funny to hear them rambling on about a minor play while bigger ones are going on.

Gameplay

Obviously gameplay here boils down to one thing, FOOTBALL AND LOTS OF IT!!! The game does a very good job of imitating the sport and you don't have to worry about any of the injuries that come with it because you'll be nice and comfortable in your couch or wherever you play. Since it is meant to be somewhat realistic you will have to learn how to properly use all of the game's features if you want to get ahead of your competition. Relying on nothing but pass plays will make you predictable and eventually your quarterback will just get sacked every play and you will end up turning the ball over all the way to defeat. There are a lot of options to keep your opponents guessing with different teams having different playbooks that you can choose from, and a lot of options to switch to other plays once your team is lined up on the field. Picked a pass play but rather not risk it and switch to a run to get those last few yards? No problem because the game now allows you to do that even simpler than before — by pressing the right stick all the options are shown to you. As someone fairly new to these games I couldn't tell you how frustrating it was having to memorize every play in the book and then figure out what play to switch to without having to look at a menu or something of the sort.

Now while this game may have simplified things a bit more to help out new players, you will still need to put in some time in order to fully play the game. Since this isn't Blitz 2000 you can't just say “oh this play failed and now ill try this one.” You have to learn how to run your plays, passing or running depending on the situation, if you want to take the lead. The game provides a practice mode where you can practice any number of plays from your favourite team and its playbook (or whichever playbook you choose) and just learn them so they become second nature to you. Passing is one you will have to practice a bit because now you can't just hit the button and have the ball teleport to the receiver. If one of your receivers is in no position to catch the ball, his button will be transparent indicating that he will most likely not catch it or it will be intercepted. Only by searching for the receiver whose button isn't transparent will you be able to make a complete pass and gain those yards you need for a first down or even a touchdown. Sounds simple right? well try doing it in a short amount of time until your defenders eventually can't hold the waves of opposing teammates and they come running for your quarterback.

There are other modes to play in this game such as Mascot and One Button mode. With Mascot your team is replaced by a whole team of mascots. For example, the Kansas Jayhawks will be replaced by the Jayhawks mascot and the Kansas State Wildcats will be players wearing the Wildcat mascot's suit. Overall it's just a reskin of the players but it's fun to see a horde of mascots battle it out on the grid iron. The second mode, One Button mode, simplifies the game to one button for the whole duration of the game. You just press X (or A depending on your console) and you win! Well that's not entirely true since this mode strips all the depth out of the game, the passing game becomes a lot harder because only the receivers able to catch a ball are highlighted while the other ones just stand there waving their arms as they get into perfect position. It leads to some frustrating moments since the switch is instantaneous and just when you think you are going to throw it to the guy who has a shot at the end zone, the game will switch it and you end up throwing to the guy closest to you who is surrounded, gaining a mere two yards or maybe even losing some yards. If anything this mode is great to practice your running game and your ability to know when to reverse plays. It can be fun with other people since they will also have the same handicap but for solo play I recommend you stay out of this mode as you are liable to pick up some bad habits in your play style that can lead to defeat once you hit up the fantastic online modes.

Finally, the game also comes with a new mode called "The Heisman Challenge" in which you take a past Heisman Trophy winner and attempt to recreate that success that led him to winning the award. While it may sound easy, it's not since you have to do a series of challenges within each game so you can even be considered. Eventually you might fail on one and not get the whole thing but it's OK since this mode implements a save feature so you can always just reload a save and attempt it again from a "checkpoint." Alhough I'm not sure if the developers implemented the save for this reason, but why not right?

Conclusion

Overall this is among one of the best versions of NCAA Football that I have played and if you are looking to get into the EA Sports side of games then I would definitely recommend getting this one. Yea it has a bit of a learning curve but if anything most games nowadays are lacking that learning curve challenge, and it brings out a nice and welcomed change. If you like football then you definitely will not be disappointed with this one and it will be another way to maybe get some rivalry going with some friends as the vs is tons of fun.










 
 

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