Data on NCAA Football 11 (XBox)

by Felix Chesterfield - Date: 2010-10-31 - Word Count: 768 Share This!

EA Sports has always been the pinnacle for sports video games. The Madden franchise for NFL football is routinely used as the benchmark for which all other games are judged. While EA's college football version originally just came across as a trickled down version of the Madden game, it has been working to differentiate itself for roughly a decade now. By including the pageantry, playbooks, rivalries, and recruiting that make the college game unique, NCAA Football truly is its own game. The problem has always been in differentiating the game from itself. About every 5 years, EA has added truly revolutionary features that make the game unlike any other market. But, on a year to year basis, the game has often struggled to add annual improvements that demand gamers buy each individual edition. How does this year's version stack up? Let's take a look at the data.

Gameplay: While the peripheral bells and whistles are nice, every sports game depends on a solid gameplay system for its overall enjoyment. This gameplay is fun, but flawed. You still get to work from college playbooks (opening up full playbooks to no-huddle offenses is a great adjustment from past years) and have to analyze opponent's defenses in order to call the right plays. However, there are some issues that make some gameplay unrealistic. Linebackers are capable of defending passes that should be ten feet over their heads. Computer and user AI is still far too susceptible to inside slants (even when playing man defense). Running backs are capable of throwing off defensive linemen with a simple stiff arm. Player weights still do not factor into gameplay (215 lb defensive lineman can physical dominate offensive linemen with fifty pounds on them). Overall, these are nitpicks. But with over fifteen years worth of rehearsals, we should be weeding out the nitpicks by now.

Dynasty: The dynasty mode is really the great aspect for one-player gaming. Being able to take a team from obscurity and build them into a national title contender is a great amount of fun for a number of users. Recruiting received a great recent overhaul - it now takes place throughout the season and has a variety of difficulty levels (no longer can a 3 star program land a few of the nation's top recruits through high focus). The weakness of dynasty mode is the award and national championship selection can be a bit screwy. It is not uncommon for a traditional power (i.e. Texas) to go undefeated against one of the nation's toughest schedules and still miss out on the championship game - which would never happen in real life (or at least very rarely).

Online Integration: The big addition this year is that people can now play in online dynasties. Join your friends, pick your team, recruit your players, and play a number of seasons. Actual online gameplay is still very solid with few lags. There are still some cheese plays (unstoppable plays due to game glitches or inaccuracies) available that make playing against certain players annoying. However, this is becoming slightly less common due to public knowledge of online gameplay ethics (if there is such a thing).

Presentation: It is definitely a college game, there is little doubt in that. Rivalries are emphasized, school songs kick in by marching bands at the proper moments, and there is now even an team entrance resembling that of an actual team. Brad Nessler and Kirk Herbstreet have the play-by-play. ESPN's college football graphics have been implemented, which is a nice touch. If you are playing in a hostile environment, the rumble pack on your controller goes into overdrive to make things just slightly more difficult. Nonetheless, despite these fun aspects, it doesn't feel like anything has greatly improved in the game's presentation in at least five years. Minor tweaks have definitely taken place, but there has been relatively little customization in a half decade. Of 120+ NCAA FBS schools, only 20+ have customized presentations.

Overall Review: 7/10. It is a lot of fun to play, but still...I expected much more from a game that has been honed for well over a decade's worth of editions. It is possible that things have gotten a bit stale and it would be better for the franchise if a bit of competition were to enter the market (licensing agreements make this difficult). Nonetheless, I have much higher hopes for next year.

Note: Make sure that you have all the tuners and patches uploaded or you will find the game to be very flawed. It is somewhat unbelievable that it was allowed to be released to the public with so many initial glitches.

-Felix Chesterfield Other Useful Information: Data Recovery File Recoveryn
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