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Football photo

Applicant for college coaching job cites Madden skills

Chuck the pigskin
Dec 12
// Brett Makedonski
As the resident Destructoid staff North Dakotan, I feel oddly obligated to report whenever there's videogame news that can be tenuously tied to my home state. As such, the University of North Dakota had a recent applicant for...
EA settlement photo
EA settlement

EA to pay tens of millions to NCAA student athletes

Plaintiffs' attorneys call it a 'historic settlement'
Sep 28
// Brett Makedonski
Electronic Arts has bought its way out of a potentially nasty class action lawsuit, for use of the names, images, and likenesses of former and current NCAA student athletes. All it cost was an undisclosed amount, vaguely refe...
EA Sports photo
EA Sports

There won't be an EA college football game next year

Future plans for the franchise are under evaluation
Sep 26
// Jordan Devore
After stating that it would move forward to create college football games without the NCAA names and marks, Electronic Arts has confirmed today that there won't be a new game in 2014. "We have been stuck in the middle of a di...
NPD July 2013 photo
NPD July 2013

NPD: NCAA Football and 3DS rise to the top in July

Overall, industry is down 19% from 2012
Aug 16
// Tony Ponce
Thursday was NPD day, a day of celebration and / or commiseration throughout the US gaming industry. The big winners in terms of hardware and software were 3DS and NCAA Football 14. This marks the third straight month that 3D...

EA photo

NCAA not renewing EA Sports contract (Update)

No more college football?
Jul 17
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
[Update: Electronic Arts' official response has come from EA Sports executive vice president Andrew Wilson, who writes that the company "will continue to develop and publish college football games, but we will no longer incl...

Review: NCAA Football 14

Jul 05 // Steven Hansen
NCAA Football 14 (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360) Developer: EA Tiburon Publisher: EA Sports Release: July 9, 2013MSRP: $59.99 The most important part of a sports game is how the sport plays out on its field of choice. Other modes and additions could be fun or add complexity, but it’s always all about the game. In this case the physics are a welcome, marked improvement over the same old, tired, frustrating animations. If you have consistently enjoyed the NCAA series, this game plays better than all of them, so that should be enough for you to pick it up. Cuts feel better; your blocking is less of a nightmare because even if the lineman doesn’t want to throw a block at least his body will be in the defensive player’s way, and so on. The core game plays much better than last year’s. I do have some issue with the implementation of physics that I find a bit hard to place though, and I’m not sure if it came from this being the first time the series has worked with the engine, or if it’s some uncanny valley-related thing. Sometimes, plays and player contact will feel a bit reminiscent of the vibrating, table-top electronic football game. I’ve scoured replays and for all intents and purposes things (mostly) seem to be reacting in the proper way, but every once in a while weird things will occur that make the players feel a little less grounded than, ironically, NHL’s skaters (or FIFA’s footballers). One of my favorite additions to NCAA Football 14 is the Skills Trainer. It’s a Nike-branded Skills Trainer, gaudily emblazoned with swooshes, but I was able to get past that and appreciate a complex sports game deciding to offer a decent tutorial. It’s a nice cheat sheet for experienced players to bone up on what’s new in this year’s iteration and a simple, well-designed explanation of some of the more nuanced elements of the sport for the uninitiated (whether they be unfamiliar with the sport or with gaming). A good training mode of sorts should be practically mandatory as far as I’m concerned. I also appreciate the revamped "option" game, which includes indicators on which defensive players you should be watching for as you run the option. I’ve played football, but I’ve never run an option offense. It’s helpful, especially when you start running things like triple options, to know which defensive players to key in on and how you should react. Performing well in the Skill Trainer nets you coins which can be used for NCAA Ultimate Team. Or NUT, as I like to affectionately call it. I still don’t get the appeal of Ultimate Team, even as it makes its NCAA debut, since I just find it redundant. It just plays on Skinner box mentality in the “gotta collect ‘em all” way cards are known to encourage (just ask Steam players). If you want a team full of overly exceptional players, you can play the amazing Mascot Mode and have all the players sit at 99 overall, while also being dressed up as trees and bears. If you want to build a crappy team into a better team, pick a crappy team in Dynasty and build it into a better team. Ultimate Team just always feels like a huge chore; a grind, more appropriately, to use the term typically associated with MMOs and RPGs. Still, it’s there if you want it, and I’m sure EA would be beside itself if you wanted to spend real life money on a pack of virtual trading cards (not that you have to, but you can). Dynasty Mode has seen some mild changes. You’re granted points for good “coaching,” mostly a combination of in-game performance and recruit signings, which can then be allocated into “game management” and “recruiting” skill trees to help your team perform better or to try and woo unsuspecting, bright-eyed men still too young to legally drink. For people bored to tears by Dynasty mode’s minutia and verisimilitude -- I count myself among those ranks -- there is a new Play a Season mode, in which you can jump into any of the teams’ actual 2013 season schedule and aim for a bowl victory. It’s like playing a random exhibition game, but with slightly more structure, kind of like an arranged and itinerated play date. But, really, it’s my preference, creatively bankrupt as it is. My opponents get chosen for me and I have some semblance of a narrative and structure to work with (along with constant laments over the lack of a playoff system). The game also boasts an impressive menu aesthetic and interface. It’s smart and simple, focusing on big squares and rectangles reminiscent of Windows’ phone UI. It sounds silly, but a lot of sports games have terrible menus. It’s also much quicker than last year’s thanks to the toned down, minimalistic aesthetic that looks a lot better than the crowded ESPN College Gameday presentation. A lot of the in-game presentation elements have been reduced or shortened, too, yielding less fodder to button through in order to get back to the action. NCAA Football 14 is in a weird position and it shows. There are some mild performance issues -- start menus that take an extra few seconds to pop up, slowdown after a turnover, a crash or two -- that feel like the result of the waning console generation. Meanwhile, the series finally has physics, but in its PS3 and 360 swansong, a mere few months before, for many, EA’s Ignite and the next gen come in to wreck up the place. Still, for the time being, college football fans can revel in having a much improved, solid football game, sans any dramatic changes.
NCAA 14 review photo
Giving it the old college try
I wonder if active NCAA players prefer playing Madden. Do they want to play as themselves, or their friends? Or do they want to play as the players they grew up watching, the players that made it to the big time? For many, co...

NCAA 14: Better with physics

Jun 13 // Steven Hansen
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.
NCAA 14 preview photo
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. ...

Preview: NCAA 14 getting physical, getting physics engine

Apr 16 // Steven Hansen
NCAA Football 14 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [previewed]) Developer: EA Tiburon Publisher: EA Sports Release: July 9, 2013 The implementation of the Infinity Engine 2 addresses a lot of the problems with the series. 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. 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 bit I played felt fairly balanced. It’s not over the top, but when a big hit connects, you feel it. We had one nasty hit elicit some "ooohs" and cringes. Similarly, you can miss with a hit stick and impotently glance off an opponent. It is as it should be; hopefully it all holds up over protracted play. As most people who play sports games know, it’s hard to spot strange flaws or inconsistencies until you’ve played repeatedly. In an effort to bring more analog controls to the series, there is a stumble recovery mechanic tied to the right stick. I didn’t encounter it during my hands-on, but supposedly it can be used to manually regain balance, which could be a neat idea. Most importantly, on offense your ball carrier is more apt at not running haphazardly into his own teammates, which was a frustrating occurrence in Madden 13. Ball carriers will now perform an Assassin’s Creed style move, extending arms towards linemen and other blockers, and run around them when appropriate instead of the ball carrier mashing his front into his teammate’s back as erect as possible. This might prevent those silly, awkward fumbles. When you’re actually running about with ball in hand, NCAA 14 will be less kind to players scampering about like headless chickens. Proper cutting will hopefully preclude players from jetting around in unrealistic swerves while maintaining top speed -- I did a lot of that when screwing around in NCAA 13, often with Barry Sanders, which was hilariously unfair. The sprint button is also making a return and players have a visible stamina meter tied to their stamina statistic. Sprinting will obviously burn it up and so will special moves, discouraging you from getting too spin happy. As games wear on, the stamina meter will also shrink a bit, giving you a little less in the tank to work with. The skills trainer for core mechanics is also a welcomed addition. “Call of Duty still teaches you how to run and sight and shoot. Everyone who plays a shooter knows how, but they still teach you. We’ve been guilty of adding new features and not explaining how to use them.” The game will now teach you how to run the option, for example, highlighting the defensive player you’re meant to be reading as you choose whether to keep the ball as the quarterback or to pitch it to the appropriate player. A few other touches outside of the usual iterative updates are equally welcomed. A slight delay in player switching is meant to keep you from accidentally running players out of position. Hot routes are contextually sensible -- your outside, deep receiving threat is less likely to wind up pass blocking. There’s also “by personnel” play calling, meant to aid in the no huddle. Previously, running a no huddle offense and changing the play could lead to players out of position. Blocking is alleged to be improved as well. Someone (or someones) supposedly went through every permutation of offensive and defensive play selection to ensure the blocking matchups would be correct. We’ll see how long it takes fans to find out whether or not that’s true (mind, the matchups could be accurate, but player skill comes into play as well). So, yes, NCAA 14 is probably going to be the best game in the series, or at least the best iteration we’ve seen in many years, albeit by virtue of finally including a bunch of things that should’ve made it into the series much sooner. The core of the game plays much better, anyway, and that’s the important thing. Maybe we’re closing in on a modern football game that can compare to other great contemporary sports franchises, though I’ll be cynical and say it probably won’t come until next generation. And even then, will it be more fun than NFL Blitz?
NCAA 14 preview photo
College gets physical. Finally.
NCAA Football 14 is going to be a much better game than NCAA 13. I can assure you that much because it has implemented a physics engine, the Infinity Engine 2. If the name rings familiar, the first iteration of the Infinity E...

Review: NCAA Football 13

Jul 27 // Steven Hansen
NCAA Football 13 ( PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360)Developer: EA SportsPublisher: EA SportsReleased: July 10, 2012MSRP: $59.99 What impresses me most about NCAA 13 is its presentation (damning praise). A bunch of new stadiums and mascots and traditions have been added, paired with the already existing collegiate band sound, all of which adds up to a cool little nod to the real world in its authenticity. On the front end, the facsimile of EPSN’s College Gameday facade is indeed impressive in its accuracy and well laid out. Unfortunately, the menu is simply a means to get into the bits of the game you want to play and all the pageantry of school specific cutscenes and the like, per usual, quickly become things you simply mash buttons to get past. And when you get into the core gameplay, that luster begins to look like someone painted over water damage. As expected, NCAA 13 features a hodgepodge of core gameplay tweaks. Most noticeably, QBs are much more competent this time around. Certain mechanics that have been Madden staples for a number of years -- like the ability to lead a receiver away from defenders with an aimed pass -- have thankfully been added. One other welcomed addition is the ability to abort a play action fake, which is nice when you encounter an unexpected blitz. Of course, the friends I play football games with blitz like mad, so I’ve long since erased most play action fakes from my repertoire because of the cumbersome, lengthy, fake animations. All is not smooth sailing in the passing game, however. Defensive players are a little less freakishly adept at picking off balls than in years past; I saw fewer magnet hands and linebackers mysteriously putting their hands up to pick a ball over their shoulder that they shouldn’t have even known was there. Still, defensive backs can break on balls with some suspicious quickness. However, the biggest issue in the passing game is timid receivers. While the game boasts over 430 new catching animations, receivers are frustratingly content to run their routes by rote. They never make appropriate contextual adjustments. An outside receiver running in a route will literally run right into a spying middle linebacker, causing an awkward animation in which they vacantly rub up against each other, rather than run underneath him or behind him into the open field. Even more aggravating, receivers rarely seem to want the ball. Despite generally having a size advantage over the smaller defensive backs, they don’t use their bulk or height to maintain position on the ball in tight coverage. In general, they just don’t try and go after the ball, particularly on curls or hooks or other routes that leave them standing idly by in space after they’ve run them. Legacy issues persist, too. Streaks and seams by slot receivers and big-bodied tight ends over the middle are still ripe for the picking as an effective, lazy offensive strategy that the defense never adjusts for. The blocking is baffling. While the offensive lines I played with were generally competent in keeping my quarterback upright, everything changes when there’s a ball carrier they’re supposed to be blocking for. It’s so unbelievably frustrating to have two enormous blockers in front of you in wide open space on a halfback toss, and then to have both of them run right by the defensive back that’s coming in to tackle you for a paltry gain. Outside wide receivers, generally not the most competent of blockers, are actually okay. The players whose job it is to block, like fullbacks and linemen, will just let opposing players run right past them. I get that players aren’t perfect, but the frequency with which blockers screw up is staggering. I’ve seen linemen in space move to the side to let opposing players hit me. This isn’t an instance of a defender making a good play or some such football occurrence; I’ve literally had blockers and opposing players running in straight lines towards each other, only to see the blocker agilely avoid setting up a block at the last minute (and not even to -- mistakenly -- try to block a different player). Your punt team seems equally content to have three or four blockers sit a few yards in front of you and let one opposing player run by uncontested to light you up. It’s maddening at times. Despite some annoying issues, NCAA 13’s biggest problem is that the core mechanics are simply dulled by the franchise’s repeat performances. Despite the supposed injection of new animations, holdovers from years past take so much of the thrill out of the sport. It’s more of the same. More minor fixes and more problems, both persistent and new. Things like the newly added Heisman Challenge, which lets you play out the career years of past Heisman winners in an attempt to equal their numbers, and tweaked Dynasty and Road to Glory modes are all well and good, but everything is dependent on the core gameplay, which hasn’t seen substantial change to get excited about. Heisman Challenge was fun, to its credit, but the numbers those players put up are a bit less gaudy in the virtual realm. With a week 3 99-0 victory (against a particularly bad team) in which I rushed Barry Sanders for 550 yards and 11 TDs, that I would at least match his Heisman numbers was assured. Then, it became a challenge of by how much I could eclipse his marks. With that sort of score-attack mentality, trying to pile on as many points as humanly possible, I actually enjoyed the new mode, as well as the new “Reaction Time,” which lets you slow down time with L2 and helps in circumnavigating shoddy blocking. Of course, on defense Reaction Time also replaces the strafe button, which makes it rather challenging to keep positioning. Still, my fun came solely from that score-attack mentality, not from playing a good game of football. Similarly, the Mascot Mode was another bit of the game I enjoyed for its novelty and arcade feel. In it, team of schools’ real-life mascots go head to head, all with maxed out stats and cool sideways flip evasive maneuvers. Seeing the limbless Stanford Trees throw and catch footballs was amusing. Also to the game’s credit, the online component ran as smoothly as I've experienced while playing, though I did have an issue or two of getting disconnected from a game that was well under way. EA’s servers seem to be down quite a bit, which also precludes you from tracking your stats, and the loading times, in general, can start to wear on you. I don’t envy the Sisyphean task developers of these titles have. Sports games are not easy to make. The multiple AI characters attempting to work in unison can’t hold a candle to skilled player input -- particularly in a football game in which each team has 11 different players -- so constant tweaks and refinements are perpetual, while players still find ways to exploit some formation or player combination or individual play. Still, other studios have managed to balance innovation and iteration in equally truncated development cycles. At its best, NCAA has caught up to Madden in the passing game. We’re in a great age for sports games. Sony’s MLB The Show, 2k Sports’ 2k basketball and EA’s own FIFA and NHL titles are all damn good games; of course, perhaps it’s no coincidence that those franchises all have direct competition, whereas EA reigns alone in the licensed football market. Even the old monolith that is Madden seems to be trying to change up its core gameplay this year. Football is quite possibly my favorite sport (only baseball would contend for that spot), but I’d rather play any and all of the aforementioned sports games than NCAA 13. It’s just not enough.

"Another year, another [insert sports title],” am I right? Yes, with the autumnal winds blows in the latest crop of sports games, including the harbinger of Maddens to come, NCAA Football 13. As I am tenuously optimisti...

Review: NCAA Football 12

Jul 13 // Brian Szabelski
NCAA Football 12 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: EA Tiburon/EA CanadaPublisher: EA SportsRelease Date: July 12, 2010MSRP: $59.99 So here we are; another year, another new title in an EA Sports franchise. The good news is since I don't have to sit here and discuss a storyline with you (spoiler: IT'S FOOTBALL), we can jump right into the what's new. So what is new? Well, not the presentation, for the most part. Sure, they've upgraded the ESPN branding a bit to reflect how it looks in the real world better and the entire menu system incorporates some bits and pieces of ESPN College Football's design, but basically, everything's as it was last year. I guess the old saying is true: if it's not broke, don't fix it. Of course, that presentation also matters on the field, especially with an addition made for NCAA Football 11 -- school-specific team introductions. Last year, I bemoaned that some of the classic team introductions like Oklahoma's Sooner Schooner or Colorado's Ralphie the Buffalo charging out onto the field were excluded. Apparently EA Tiburon heard my complaints, because they and a host of other entrances using animal mascots are here. Auburn's War Eagle, Georgia's famous bulldog Uga, Florida State's Chief Osceola and Renegade; they're in the game, as are schools like Oregon and USC. Even some of the smaller schools with traditions, like Wake Forest and Wyoming, are included in the latest batch. Like last year, they're a great touch and really add to the overall feel of the game as being representative of the college game experience. They've also stepped up the actual in-game graphics a bit, changing the lighting to be more dynamic and better reflect the sun's position and time of day. Even the grass has ditched flat textures for fuller 3D animation, allowing for little touches such as greenery poking out of the snow during winter games. The good news is, it works and the game is absolutely gorgeous. The better news is that the fans aren't lost in giant heaps of bloom effects like they were last year either. They are now individually modeled, with deeper stadium effects for a fuller sound, as opposed to using 50,000 fans and doubling the volume, as has been done in the past. The problem of players clipping through one another is still noticeable, though not as bad as in previous games, and there graphical glitches in replay mode remain troubling. I had the sky disappear on me after one game, leaving me with the eternal blackness of what I assume is the vacuum of space. Sadly, we lost the Kent State Golden Flashes to it, but I don't think anyone will miss them. The biggest (and in my opinion, most beneficial) change comes in the form of a much improved tackling system. EA promised that this new system, which uses new animations that begin only when the player makes contact with the ball carrier, would put an end to the dreaded warping, sliding and other graphical glitches that have become the stuff of YouTube legend. The good news, though, is that this isn't just talk; the system and its new animations deliver on EA's promise. Everything looks crisp, natural and fluid in animation for the first time ... well, ever. Defensive players look like they're actually making tackles, and as a side-effect, it looks more natural when the ball carrier breaks a tackle on a defensive player. Also changed this year was the defensive AI, making players in zone defensive schemes able to trade off players and not just stand around in their zone all the time. Again, EA promised this would be improved and make it harder to run short passing routes against the zone, and they delivered. It used to be pretty easy to run crossing routes of 5-10 yards and just keep chaining passes together. This year, my computer opponents were having none of it, even if I had them line up against a bottom-of-the-barrel team like Eastern Michigan or Memphis.  But the more some things change, the more others stay the same. Gameplay-wise, it's fundamentally the exact same game you've seen last year, and the year before, and the year before and so on. The controls remain all but similar to NCAA Football 11, albeit with the tackle button now permanently moved by default to X (Xbox 360)/Square (PS3). Those of you who've played an NCAA Football game in the last 2-3 years should have no problem picking this game up and being able to jump right into it. Dynasty mode is polished up a bit for this year, with some brand new features that, honestly, should have been in the game a few years ago. Chief among those is the ability to create custom conferences, allowing you to freely move schools around and make conferences as big as 16 teams. You can adjust schedules, BCS bowl tie-ins, even division names if you so choose to. It's nice to finally be able to put my created school in a conference without having to kick someone else out. Secondly, EA's changes allow you to start off your coaching career as a coordinator, focusing on one side of the ball, and work your way up to other jobs ... or try to stay off the hot seat. It's a fun addition that adds another level of realism to the game, as most coaches start out as coordinators at one point or another. Outside of these changes, Dynasty mode is almost identical to NCAA Football 11 in terms of recruiting, management and so on. The other main mode from last year, Road to Glory, is back as well, having undergone some rather large changes. The game mode adds a new feature in that it lets you not only start out your career in high school, but play through your entire senior year as well. It's a nice touch, as playing well in games all year builds up your recruiting potential in a much more reasonable manner than just playing through the state playoffs. Along the way, you'll be able to add schools to your interest list, and for the first time, you can play on both sides of the ball, allowing you to be recruited at two different positions. This also might mean more offers; Florida, for example, might be looking for a halfback, but Georgia could be looking for a linebacker, and if you play well enough at both positions, you'll have offers from multiple schools to play on either side of the ball. You can also choose to skip this part if you want and get to the meat of Road to Glory if you want: your collegiate career.   This area, too, has undergone quite a bit of change: you still have to compete for your spot and can move up and down the roster, as well as be challenged by your teammates if you're a starter. Additionally, doing well in practice will garner trust from your coach and allow you perks during the game, like the ability to call more audibles as the coach becomes comfortable with you at quarterback, for example. You also gain experience points that you can spend on temporary stats boosts. However, what gets lost in the changes is the need to balance a schedule between your social life, working out and your studies. Everything's simply been condensed into one lone practice per week and whatever game you have on the schedule. I assume this was done to make the game move a little quicker, but it's sad to see it get so simplified that part of the college experience has been taken out. Maybe they just assume that you get "help" to pass all your classes, but I would have liked to see it remain. And heck, while you're at it, if we're gonna get some special help for keeping our GPA up to the necessary minimums, can't we have a special mini-game where we get to drive around in fancy cars on campus while avoiding NCAA investigators? As far as making the game your own goes, the usual creation and roster management modes are here. TeamBuilder — EA's online create-a-team page — is once again the only option for making custom teams, so if you don't have an Internet connection, too bad. New this year is the inclusion of custom playbooks, allowing you to build a selection of plays that best fits your style. It's a nice addition but one that really should have been a standard for the past few years, especially since I distinctly remember the older Madden games having something like this. And yes, before you ask, the codes to unlock online multiplayer from last year are back as EA continues to discourage buying games used. Did you really expect anything different? But there's one thing kept popping up in my head as I played through NCAA Football 12: "It's more of the same." Or, maybe to put it more precisely, they could have called this game Super NCAA Football 11 Arcade Edition and it would have fit just as well. There's plenty that's been added to enhance the experience of this being a college football game and some (but not all) of the graphical issues from last year's game have been fixed. Dynasty Mode has gotten long-overdue improvements as well, while Road to Glory has been streamlined (a move I'm not completely a fan of). It's basically a slightly better version of last year's game, which isn't a terrible thing at all since I loved it, but those of you hoping for anything groundbreaking are probably going to be disappointed. I'll still highly recommend buying it if you're a college football fan or if you haven't played a game from this series in a while, but if you're content with NCAA Football 11 — and you don't mind seeing your players slide across the field to make a tackle — then NCAA Football 12 might not do much to change your mind.

Last year, EA Sports decided to take a some risks, change up a few things and make a pretty darn good college football game. Well, apparently, we liked the experimental title enough that they decided to do some...


NCAA Football 12 live stream happening tomorrow

Jun 20
// Jordan Devore
Next week is when EA Sports will drop the demo for NCAA Football 12 on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Ahead of the demo's June 28 launch, the company has plans to interact with fans via live stream. This is going down tom...

Review: NCAA Football 11

Jul 09 // Brian Szabelski
NCAA Football 11 (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2)Developer: EA Tiburon/EA CanadaPublisher: EA SportsRelease Date: July 13, 2010MSRP: $59.99, $39.99 (PlayStation 2) To achieve its goal of creating the most realistic college football experience to date, EA has made a few changes to the old NCAA Football formula. One of the most notable changes this year comes through the improved running mechanics. Rather than having players stutter or quickly cut to what appears to be a canned animation, spins and jukes are seamlessly incorporated into a player’s run. Part of this is because of the improved dual analog stick controls for running, which now senses how far the analog stick is being leaned, rather than if it is simply being pushed in one direction or another. This sensitivity does take some getting used to, but after a short time, it becomes easy to use and helps make runs more precise. Only five of the actual controls -- high stepping, jukes, spins, trucks and shielding the ball from contact – are mapped to the right analog stick, and that’s probably a good thing. Otherwise, you might go to do a stiff arm and end up juking right into the arms of an opposing linebacker. The run game also gets a little buff with improved blocking from the offensive line. Offensive linemen react a bit better to picking up their targets, and while there’s still a few blown blocks or bad choices during the game, it’s noticeably easier to get the running game going in NCAA Football 11 … or noticeably more difficult to effectively stop the run when teams are balanced, even on lower difficulty settings. But enough about the running game and how it’s a bit better this year. What’s really going to get college football fans excited is the fact that EA have tried to give each of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools a unique feel that accurately reflects them. This year, that’s not just adding in new mascots (one of which is from my alma mater, Bowling Green State University) and keeping up with new stadiums for some teams: it’s giving 30 of the most well known teams their own unique pre-game run-outs. In this area, the crew at EA Tiburon and EA Canada have done very well, both in picking the teams to use for this, and in recreating their run-outs. Notre Dame’s players slap the “Play Like A Champion Today” sign in the locker room before heading out onto the field. Michigan’s virtual team runs under the same “Go Blue” banner the real team does. Miami emerges from its giant helmet in a cloud of smoke. A Texas player leads the charge out of the tunnel with the American flag flying high, just like in real life. Some of the more complex ones aren’t in this year’s version (Colorado and its buffalo are absent, for example), but these all add immensely to the feel that you’re actually playing for one of these schools, rather than just having a generic run-out like in previous games. Likewise, EA has decided to put its ESPN license to good use, incorporating “ESPN College Gameday” and other elements into the series. The full ESPN broadcast presentation package is in NCAA Football 11 for the first time, including the ESPN transition wipe, and while Lee Corso’s antics are missing from this year’s game, I think I’ll survive without hearing his canned lines every fourth or fifth play from scrimmage. Besides, ESPN reporter Erin Andrews has apparently taken his place in that regard with heir sideline reports, as she seems to say the same couple of things every time one of your players gets injured. Yes, Erin, we know he might not be coming back to the game after he broke his leg; you just told us that about the guy with the concussion. In this year’s game, each team has a playbook tailored more to its actual style, rather than just a generic one with a few unique plays thrown in. Sure, there is some overlapping (as there is in real college football), but seeing these little tweaks and different formations goes a long way in making you feel like you're actually in control of the team you've picked, be it Nebraska’s traditional option running attack or any one of the many variations on the spread offense. Of course, this is on the offensive side of the ball; on defense, you don’t quite have the same variation in play choices. On top of the ESPN license, the playbooks, and the run-outs, NCAA Football 11 looks a bit better than last year’s game, in that the player’s skin textures have lost a bit of their "sparkle." That’s quite a good thing, because instead of looking like plastic dolls or vampires from Twilight standing in the sunshine, they actually look like human beings … even if the mouth animations still look as awful as they did back when I played NCAA Football 2003. On the other hand, if one of the game’s improvements was better lighting, EA has both succeeded and failed. It's succeeded in that the lighting on the field and on the players looks better, of course. But it's failed in that the fans in the stands look like they’re radioactive whenever the sun is shining at a game. Note to the guys at EA Tiburon: chill it on the bloom effects, okay? While there aren’t any new game modes in NCAA Football 11, Dynasty mode has undergone a major expansion, most of which is geared toward the Web. A new Dynasty website allows you to manage your NCAA Football 11 dynasties online and even recruit players. Yeah, you read that right: you can go through the recruiting process both in-game and online, which seems both interesting and a bit unnecessary for anyone but the most hardcore NCAA Football 11 players. Dynasties are searchable and can be made either public, allowing anyone to join, or private and password-protected. And if all of that wasn’t enough, there’s a new feature called DynastyWire for hardcore fans and wanna-be journalists. This features allows you to create stories for game recaps in a blog for your dynasty, then share them on social networking sites. While the inner writing geek in me loves this (as I’ve been doing this kind of stuff for years offline) the social networking part of it seems a little much. Do I really need to know how friends are doing in their Duke or North Texas dynasties? Probably not. As for the actual Dynasty mode mechanics, they remain largely the same except for changes to the recruiting process. Coaches can talk directly with recruits on a number of topics, from fan base and athletic facilities to whether they’re a championship contender and how much playing time they’ll get. Recruits will also ask about your school’s weaknesses and after each talk, and you’ll get a grade on each topic to see how you scored compared to other schools. That really turns up the pressure to sell your school in the best way possible, something every athletic program has to go through on a yearly basis, and players can and will pass on you for other schools that will better match their desires. Of course, if all that is too easy for you or you’re something of a videogame masochist, a difficulty slider has been added, as well. The changes tie in very well with the whole “recreating the college experience” theme for this year’s title, as it puts more emphasis on the skill of being able to make a good pitch rather than simply going undefeated and raking in the recruits. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. This year’s control set-up is essentially the same as last year’s, with the exception of the dual analog stick controls for running. TeamBuilder is once again online only, with the only new additions being the ability to play online against other created teams and add custom text on the front of team jerseys, something that should have been doable last year. Road to Glory mode returns, and even with the new name, it’s essentially the same as the Campus Legend mode from NCAA Football 06 to 09, down to the choices you have to make for evening activities. Oh, except this time, Erin Andrews is the “host” and the game will follow your college career with in-game highlights and discussions about your performance. Thankfully, if it sounds as annoying to you as I actually found it to be, you have the option to disable it when you start a Road to Glory save. I’d advise you do so. There’s a handful of other glitches, too, from players continuing their timeout motions and not getting set for the play, to the camera being totally off-center on referees when they make calls or going through players during instant replays, to a noticeable bit of lag toward the end of some games each time after the ball is snapped. Even the ESPN graphics in the game will lag out or be choppy at times, and it’s somewhat distracting.  NCAA Football 11 is also a sign of what’s to come in regards to EA’s plans to make you buy games new instead of used. Each copy of NCAA Football 11 comes with a code that unlocks online multiplayer and the ability to actually use your TeamBuilder teams for free, as well as recruiting reports for Dynasty mode. If you buy it used later, you’ll have to pony up for these features, and in either case, you’ll also have to register an account with EA if you haven’t already done so. It seems like such a hassle, and having to pay just to make good use of TeamBuilder would upset me if I had bought it used, but with no competitors on the market, there’s not a whole lot that can be done about it. When it comes down to it, though, all of these small things don’t take away from what the teams at EA Tiburon and EA Canada have put together: the most realistic college football experience on videogame consoles to date. Sure, the “glowing” fans and the occasional hiccup might remind you that you’re playing a game, but with the new team introductions, the improved and individualized team playbooks, and heck, even the familiar “ESPN College Gameday” logos and theme that plays during the loading screen, NCAA Football 11 feels much less sterile and fake than some of its predecessors. EA Sports’ slogan has always been “It’s in the game,” and while for many years that was a half-truth for the NCAA Football franchise, this year, it’s more of a “four-fifths-truth,” if I may say. There’s still room for improvement, but for the first time in I can recall, I actually feel like I’m playing a college football game and not just Madden: NCAA Edition. If you like college football, definitely pick this one up, because EA’s scored a touchdown with this year’s installment. Crap, that was a pun, wasn’t it? Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)

The NCAA Football series has long been considered the little brother of EA Sports’ Madden franchise, not just because it’s often received Madden features the following year. There have always been questions about ...


NCAA Football 11 demo out today on PS3 and 360

Jun 14
// Samit Sarkar
EA Sports is really excited about NCAA Football 11 -- so much so that they want you to try it out a month before the game's release. The demo features four different college football matchups: Oklahoma at Texas, Florida at Fl...

NCAA Football 11: Approaching Madden, but retaining its own identity

Apr 23 // Samit Sarkar
NCAA Football 11 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [previewed], PlayStation 2) Developer: EA Tiburon Publisher: EA Sports To be released: July 13, 2010 As far as I could tell in about thirty to forty minutes spent watching and playing NCAA Football 11, the game looks and plays nothing like its predecessors. Immediately noticeable is the stark difference in the visuals: it’s not that the graphics have been “tightened up” a whole bunch, but that the new lighting system goes a long way toward creating a more authentic look that’s still somewhat stylized -- you might call it “hyper-realistic.” To be sure, player models do look better this year, which is mostly thanks to much better-looking (that is, less plastic-looking) skin. But the focus in NCAAF 11 is on the presentation. NCAAF 11 steps onto the field with a fully realized ESPN presentation. Tiburon went to the sports giant and obtained their latest broadcast graphics, so what you will see in the game will be the same as what you’ll see on TV during Saturdays this fall. It’s not just about in-game statistical overlays, though; NCAAF 11 even includes 3D animated screen transitions. The final piece of the puzzle is the “Monolith,” the pre-game matchup graphic with the College Football shield logo -- a setup that’s replete with ESPN’s college football theme music. The game also looks better because Tiburon has made significant changes to its gameplay -- changes that manifest themselves in the visuals. Thankfully, the Pro-Tak animation system that was the foundation of Madden NFL 10 is present in this game, so you’ll reap the full benefits -- procedurally generated gang tackles and collision animations, lineman movement, and more. Tiburon also reduced the default game speed like they did in Madden 10, a change that leads to a marked difference in the on-the-field action. But the most important improvement this year is a revamped locomotion system, along with dual-stick controls for ball carrier movement -- two major enhancements that are coming to Madden 11 as well as NCAAF 11. Longtime football videogame players are accustomed to picking stars who have the rare and coveted 99 speed rating, because in years past, they could simply blow by everyone else. But acceleration plays a much larger role this year: if you have a receiver who isn’t all that fleet of foot, he can still be useful if his acceleration attribute is high, since he’ll be able to reach his top speed quickly and avoid tackles. And momentum matters now -- players will lean realistically, and they won’t be able to turn on a dime (their turning radius is determined by their agility rating). This ties in with the game’s new dual-stick controls. As ever, the left stick moves your player, but in NCAAF 11, the right analog stick offers much more delicate control over how he moves. You won’t be hitting the B button for a spin move anymore. If you push up, your player leans forward; a quarter-circle motion (up, then right or left) will have him lean in a particular direction so he can shy away from the brunt of a would-be big hit. Left or right will juke, but you can alternate between the directions to “bounce” from left foot to right foot in an effort to fake defenders out. Pulling back on the stick performs a hesitation move, and quarter-circles (down, then left or right) will do spins in those respective directions. The system is simply more intuitive than it ever has been before, and the motions make sense in the context of what the ball carrier is doing. What he’s doing on a particular play depends on the offense that his team is running, and that’s where NCAAF 11’s emphasis on differentiating schools comes in. College football is a very different game from the NFL -- the sport is much more wide open at the college level because of the wide variety in offensive styles. Each team is unique, and Tiburon aims to represent that in NCAAF 11. So whether you’re running the spread (like coverboy Tim Tebow’s Florida Gators), or the triple option, or something else entirely, your team’s playbook and play style will reflect it. I played a half of football and didn’t get an immediate sense of that, but then, it’s something that can’t easily be conveyed in a short amount of time. But the feel of the game -- the way in which the players move around the field -- is vastly improved, and that was apparent from the moment I picked up the controller. It’s great to see that Madden and NCAAF are heading toward feature parity, especially when the functions in question are as vital as locomotion. NCAAF even has a leg up on Madden this year, with things like the ESPN presentation and an awesome new onside kick meter and camera angle. Because its gameplay is getting closer to Madden’s quickly improving offering, NCAA Football 11 is shaping up to be one of the most impressive entries in the college football franchise. It will be out a month ahead of Madden, so gamers will be able to get a feel for the enhanced gameplay systems before the pro football experience launches in mid-August. Who’s excited for it?

EA Sports’ NCAA Football franchise has tended to lag behind its elder brother, Madden NFL, in terms of the implementation of new features and improvements. That is, you usually see the new stuff hit Madden first, and co...


Confirmed: NCAA Football 2011 isn't coming to PSP

Apr 11
// Matthew Razak
For those looking forward to college football on their PSP this year, you are going to be disappointed. IGN has confirmed that NCAA Football 11 will not be landing on Sony's portable gaming machine. EA doesn't really cite any...

Tim Tebow to grace the cover of NCAA Football 11

Apr 08
// Brad Nicholson
Reports that New England is cooling on Tim Tebow have reduced NFL draft experts to tossing out basic guesses as to where the Heisman-winning QB will end up. But while his eventual team and place in the draft is on shaky groun...

EA not developing an NCAA Basketball title 'at this time'

Feb 10
// Brad Nicholson
You had to look real hard to not see it, but EA omitted NCAA Basketball from its fiscal 2011 lineup of games, which also featured cooler, hipper stuff like "Monopoly Title TBA" and "Hasbro Littlest Pet Shop Title TBA." Diggin...

GameStop hosting midnight launch events for NCAA Football 10

Jul 09
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Over 1,300 GameStop stores across the country are going to be hosting midnight launch events for NCAA Football 10 on July 13. There will be a tournaments where you’ll be able to win a NCAA Football 10 t-shirt and a NCA...

NCAA 09 patch details

Aug 03
// Brad Nicholson
EA is aware that NCAA Football 2009 has some unfortunate and glaring issues. The first patch to the game is expected around next week. It is set to resolve both the nasty roster glitch and reordering depth chart issue. Accord...

EA announces All-Play umbrella for the Wii

Jun 27
// Brad Nicholson
The casual gamer is a popular fellow nowadays. Nearly every publishing giant is seeking him out, culling to his desire, whim, and limited amount of playing time. Thus far this generation, no other console has sated the casual...

Create your own NCAA Football 09 cover at Sam's Club

Jun 11
// Samit Sarkar
Remember all those posts I did on EA’s staggered reveals of the coverboys for the different console versions of NCAA Football 09? Well, if you’re planning on picking up the game at Sam’s Club, none of that i...

Trifecta completed: EA reveals NCAA Football 09 PS3 cover artwork

Apr 23
// Samit Sarkar
College football fans, you can stop biting your nails. After a long wait — the 360 version’s cover was announced way back on March 6th, and the Wii version’s cover was unveiled twelve days later — we f...

First NCAA Football 09 trailer shows off the game's myriad features

Apr 17
// Samit Sarkar
College football season may be long gone, but you die-hard fans have surely been following all of Destructoid’s coverage of NCAA Football 09 (pun definitely intended). So far, EA Sports has only unveiled the box art f...

NCAA Football 09 cover artwork unveiled...well, one of the covers, anyway

Mar 06
// Samit Sarkar
A good amount of sports fans prefer college football to pro football. Here’s why: college football is, well, less professional than the NFL. This often lends itself to a more exciting game. You’ll see many more tr...

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