Let's get physical
When I previewed NCAA Football 14 earlier this year, I noted that the best news about the game is that it uses the Infinity Engine 2, the original iteration of which made Madden 13 the best entry in the series in many years.
Things are more or less the same from what I played of NCAA Football 14 on the show floor. It feels better than the game ever has and is a little better than Madden 13, given it runs on the second iteration of the engine.
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Blocking is notably improved, with blockers whiffing less frequently on blocks thanks to the physics at least setting them in defenders' paths. The stiff arm move in previous games, for example, has basically been a dice roll, tied to a set of prescribed animations. With physics, your timing matters. You can deliver a strong hit, use it to try and jostle off an incoming defender, and so on.
It's still not perfect, however. I dove at a running back's feet at one point and he trotted over me as if I wasn't there. Still, I noticed less of the creepy, Asian-horror-style contortions. Players in general are less stupid and don't trip all over each other pre-play, which is nice. Though I kind of miss it because it's hilarious.
The dive button is now less a defeated, sad looking belly flop, and more a viable means of tackling runners. It’s useful for making sure to go low against big, bruising tailbacks and the like. The hit stick has been dialed up on defense, but without the “suction” effect of canned animation.
The wide receiver evaluations pre-snap are neat, letting you get details on either your or your opponents receiving corps. It's nicely digestible, displaying height, catch ability, and so on. One issue I did have was that the menus -- dramatically improved from last year's as they are -- felt a bit sluggish. I feel like sports games, with their quick turnaround, are feeling the fatigue of this console generation more than most.