NCAA Football 12

Strike the Pose, Andrew Luck

NCAA Football 12 made us revisit high school but it was more enjoyable this time around.
Author: Scott Rodgers
Published: August 12, 2011
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This review took a bit longer than I anticipated. Truth be told, I wanted to take my time because there is just so much to do in NCAA Football 12. From Road to Glory to dynasties (both online and off), you can lose hours in a single session without ever intending to play more than one game. It doesnít hurt that my South Carolina Gamecocks are really, really good this year. So between all of gameplay modes and playing as the greatest Gamecock team in NCAA history since the Demetrius Summers days (even then, two guys who can become 99 overalls are better than one) I lost a lot of time.

I must also admit, however, that this is the first time I have played a NCAA (or really, a football title) since NCAA Football 08. I know, I know, that is blasphemy, especially coming from someone who claims the title of sports editor around these parts. Itís just that I couldnít get excited after the initial jump to the PS3 because of the gameís inability to evolve. I figured if I took a break from the series and came back at a later date (same with Madden) that it would feel fresh again. Honestly, even as a huge sports fan that reads gaming message boards and had to resist temptation year after year, that was a great decision. NCAA Football 12 blew my mind and if I knew the number of hours I spent recruiting virtual high school seniors over these past two weeks or so, Iíd probably be sick to my stomach.

Even though Road to Glory was in last yearís edition it is brand new to me. Starting a playerís career and going through a high school schedule and ultimately for a state championship is a neat concept, even if I donít own a letterman jacket. While playing games you accumulate points, and if you want the big programs to take notice youíll need to play your best. Even though some of the top flight programs required a ton of points I never found it to be much of a challenge to get into the Alabamas and Oklahomas of the world. Still, all of this is just a tune-up for your playerís collegiate career. Once you accept your scholarship and suit up everything progress just as you would expect. The quickest way to improve your stats and gain your coachís trust is through practicing, unfortunately, this is where one of the gameís biggest issues flares up.

By the end of my freshman year my RtG player was already a 94 overall. After my first game in year two I quit practicing altogether. The progression system is dramatic and itís quite normal to have a player that is a 99 overall early on in your sophomore season. Even if the games themselves are challenging and you have no idea what kind of recruits your coach will pull in, it does break the game a bit to have a player that is 99 across the board for three straight years. You can also buy upgrades that cut down the time even more (some upgrades may only last a game or two but others are permanent) and when you earn your coachís full trust itís nearly impossible to lose it. As you gain trust you can audible more often or even change plays/tendencies entirely. Of course, you can intentionally try to stretch it out but really thereís almost no way to prevent the game from making your created player too good. Also, once you pass an incumbent for their starting job it takes a meltdown of epic proportions for them to challenge you back for their job.

Dynasty mode is once again at the gameís center and will be where you sink most of your time. Online dynasties provide a new level of challenge (just think how hard you recruit that five star power running back, then think about how hard everyone else is) and add a lot to the gameís longevity. It canít be understated just how much fun it is to see the chaos of multiple human teams and upsetting someone online to knock them out of the BCS race. By comparison the offline dynasty mode, while robust, feels a bit lifeless. It is tough to organize a good group of online opponents and matching up times to actually play head-to-head match-ups can be a bit frustrating but itís well worth the headaches along the way.
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