Living Out The Dream
The only thing besides the new introductions in games that could be described as a large new feature is the customization options. You want the Rose Bowl to be played between the winners of the Big 12 and the SEC? You can tweak the settings so that’s what it is. Do you want Miami to be in the Big 10? Go for it. Do you want to create a 16-team super-conference filled with the best teams in the nation? By all means, make it happen. Unfortunately this isn’t quite as limitless as I was hoping. Conferences must be between 4 and 16 teams, which makes my dream of combining the whole nation into an “East” and “West” conference impossible.
Thankfully, my favorite feature from all of EA Sports’ titles is back and as fantastic as always: Online Team Builder. If you don’t know about it, the Online Team Builder feature lets you create a team on your computer’s internet browser instead of on your console. Why is this a big deal? First of all it means you can make a team from just about anywhere. Secondly, it lets you create stunningly accurate recreations of real-world schools not in the game because you can use any image from the internet as your logo. For example, I go to the University of WIsconsin-Whitewater. We are a D-III school, and obviously not in the game. That being the case, my roommate made exact replicas of our jerseys, and put all of our real logos on the field and helmets. I created D-II school Northern Michigan University and did the same. Both look just as real as any team in the game. It blows my mind how this isn’t in every single EA Sports game out there. It blows my mind even more that I see zero press for the feature. It’s really something special.
So, the game play is solid and customization is great, but what about all of game modes? These remain very similar to NCAA 11, but small improvements and an already solid foundation make that, again, not a bad thing. Road to Glory mode lets you take a high school senior and bring him up through the ranks to national legend. You can start out playing just the high school state championship game, or you can play a whole season, and throughout your career you progress from having to do what plays the coach tells you to do, to having a good deal of control over how you play. Dynasty (both online and offline) are back too. Selecting and talking to each of your recruits is still a blast for the most dedicated of us, but I was sorry to see almost no new dialogue options. Luckily the addition of a coaching carousel (an ever rotating door of which coaches’ jobs are safe and who’s getting the boot) is a worth-wile addition. I’m still fairly disappointed that there are no mini-games however. I used to spend hours with my brother competing in mini-camp competitions, but this fun and simple feature is MIA. Another disappointing omission is that of Division II schools. I realize that Division I alone boasts an impressive number of teams, but I would love to have the ability to take a D-II (or even D-III) school and follow them through a dynasty that turns them into a Division I powerhouse. EA’s NHL franchise does a fantastic job of including as many teams as humanly possible from every division, and I would love to see that bleed over to NCAA Football.
One For The Devoted
All in all NCAA Football 12 might not be the most original game out there, but it makes a lot of small steps to fill in the cracks where other iterations of the game have fell flat. A new animation system makes the game look better than ever, tight controls make the game feel good, and a lengthy franchise and Road to Glory mode extend the game’s life for months. That being said, some unrealistic situations and very few “big” new gameplay additions keep this game from being an automatic must-buy.
Bigger, better, more accurate presentation. Greatly improved animations overall. Enough depth to keep you busy for months or more. Online Team Builder is still amazing.
No big additions to the core of the game. Players occasionally react to situations unrealistically. A lot of re-hashed dialogue.