NCAA Football 13 review for Xbox 360, PS3

Platform: Xbox 360
Also On: PS3
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Tiburon
Medium: DVD ROM
Players: 1 – 8
Online: Yes

While there will be some major shifts over the next year or two on how NCAA games are set up, played, and scheduled, it is nice to know that EA didn?t just lie down and phone this one in, even though they easily could have to focus more on what changes to look forward to in 2014. That is one thing I love about this company as they have great pride in their franchises, listen to the fans, and try, albeit maybe too hard, to appease everyone. In a cynical world where the message boards are the king, and the internet is the be all, end all, know it all final word, EA still sticks to what they do best and that is make great games, while trying to do everything that is asked of them.

NCAA Football 13 is just that perfect example of pride and commitment of not fixing what isn?t broken. Sure this year?s game isn?t the most innovative, ground breaking, game changer this company has ever produced. What it does do is deliver a rock solid game that from the minute you turn on your game to the time you turn it off, if you are a fan of NCAA football, there will be much to love about it. It plays great, looks great, sounds great, and while the new features delivered this year aren?t huge, it is the little things that make for a satisfying experience for fans who just love the game of college football.

So what can you expect as far as new features you may ask? What makes 2013 worth the 60 dollar price tag if you still own 2012? Let?s break it down for you right here right now. I?m going to go into fundamentals, how the game handles, A.I. touch ups, etc. If you?ve played this series, you know it and you love it and I can assure you as far as the game play experience goes, it does not take a step backwards. What my job in this review is to inform you of the new changes for those who are on the fence on dropping the extra coin and may be thinking this the same game with a 13 instead of a 12.

Let?s start with presentation. The one defining fact about NCAA Football 13 is that it is easily the best looking and sounding edition of the series ever produced. While it?s not a huge leap at first glance, it is extra little things accomplished by the developers that hardcore fans will notice more so than say the casual fans. The developers have went through great lengths to provide over 80 newly modeled stadiums from the new North Texas University to the Florida Atlantic University stadium including all the little intricacies such as military parachuting entrances, new mascots, cheerleaders, and in stadiums like Perdue, you have the authentic run out Boilermaker special. This all goes to new elevated levels that even include trophy celebrations like Conference Championships and even Rivalry Game Trophy presentations. The sounds even are taken to new heights as you will feel the crowd no matter how big or small as each stadium, dependent on size, feels unique. A stadium that fills 20 to 30 thousand sounds dramatically different than ones that pack in over 100 thousand. All this and more like additional player animations, and effects like slow down and motion blur that wraps up everything quite nicely including a new ESPN package that includes studio updates of other games going on to really provide the true to life TV experience.

As for gameplay it?s the subtle details including a new revamped passing game that really gives the player total control with new pump fakes, fade throws, up to 7 step drops, shovel passes, and even quicker release animations to get those speedy plays off much faster. Of course it doesn?t make a lick of difference if the person you are throwing it to can?t do their job, right? New receiver awareness and A.I. adjustments for your other 10 players to ensure they perform their duties from running the right routes to reading oncoming blitzes that make all the difference in the world, especially on those 4th and short situations. Of course that?s not saying the defense just lies down and takes one on the chin, you still have to perform on both ends of the spectrum to be a successful team in the end, it just doesn?t hurt that the A.I. finally does what you need it to do in tough situations and never shows that ugly side of rubber band A.I. that makes you feel cheated.

All this goes without saying that there have obviously been changes to the game modes including a new Online Dynasty that allows you to play on and offline and drink in all the new features that surround the dynasty atmosphere including improved scouting, recruiting, and things like play time, TV exposure, and the coaches success and fear for his job that can dramatically change the fortunes of any team. The aforementioned ESPN studio updates help to keep you updated and informed on how your rivalries and top teams are performing parallel to you during your game time to add that added sense of urgency to win and not drop the ball, to use the pun lightly.

The newest edition to the game this year is the Heisman Challenge that for the first time in gaming history includes real player names in the game, albeit former players, but hey, at least they are not breaking guidelines and selling their trophies and merchandise for tattoos right? In this mode you can take on the role of greats like Archie Griffin, Marcus Allen, Hershel Walker, Andre Ware, and even Barry Sanders and you can relive their biggest statistical feats and try to replicate or break them through a list of goals to complete thought the course of a single season. What?s more, don?t care much for the team they did it with, then rewrite history and toss them in the colors of a different team and give that team a historic moment they never received with such a prestigious athlete. A cool new addition to the game in this mode is a game play feature called reaction time, by hitting the left bumper button you can slow down time to a bullet time style feature that allows you to read tackles and oncoming players to perform that sick cut or juke that will take you up field for greater yard gains. You only have so much of this time to use, and by getting first downs for big plays can refill the time you can utilize it. To relieve moments of these great players is a great addition and far overdue in my opinion, but at least it is here to give these great players the recognition they richly deserve.

There are many other little touches here and there that are present in all game play modes that fans will enjoy, and would take far too long to point out, but let?s just say that this year?s game can be summed up in one word, ?polished?. NCAA Football 13 isn?t going to be forever remembered as the year EA shook up virtual college football by any means, but it may be the year that gamers look back to in the future when they realize that EA got everything right.

Grade: B+