NCAA Football 14

All It Needs Is Mark Emmert

NCAA Football 2014 does everything it can to recreate the college football experience.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: July 5, 2013
page 1 page 2 page 3   next
By now we are all familiar with the yearly influx of sports games from EA. There’s a bit of a pattern where the first game of each generation is a “work-in-progress” with a barebones feature set and good-but-not-great graphics, and from that point forward they generally alternate improving the gameplay/graphics and adding features each year. By the end of the generation the games are barely recognizable as the same series that started the generation. That latter end of the spectrum is where we are with NCAA Football 2014.

My time with EA football games reached its apex somewhere in the SNES/PS1 days. Back in college it wasn’t unusual to miss entire days of class because we were heavily engaged in series Madden tournament on the SNES. At one point we had a giant scoreboard with Velcro numbers and kept track of our records for an entire semester. And I’ll never forget running my Playstation upside down because it was on its last legs and we had to get one more game of Madden in. I’ve never been quite as into the NCAA series, and almost my entire experience with it was in the previous generation so I was pretty interested to see where things stand today.

The first think that struck me as I jumped into a simple “Play Now” exhibition game was that by and large the gameplay hasn’t evolved very much at all since the SNES days. Yes, long gone are the passing windows, and there is certainly a bit more precise control of juking and movements with the analog stick, but I daresay if you dropped my 1994 self in front of a copy of NCAA Football 2014 he’d be pretty competitive out of the gate. Playcalling, basic passing, basic running and defense are all functionally identical to their 2 decade old progenitors.

The real change has come in terms of the variety of modes and extraneous features, and even more so in the presentation which has now become broadcast quality. With the crack broadcasting team of Brad Nesser, Kirk Herbsteit and Rece Davis on hand you really do feel like you are watching an ESPN broadcast. Hell, if you are playing in season you get a running ticker on the bottom, upset alerts, top 25 game updates and other pertinent information. You’ll see in-game vignettes of your coach bellowing at the players and plenty of cheerleader action on the sideline. The crowds will break into team-specific chants, mascots roam the sideline and of course the band will break into the school fight song. College football is all about the atmosphere and the tradition and you’ll find that in spades here.

You’d think with all this focus on presentation the game would LOOK amazing. But, as is also something of a tradition, the graphics in NCAA Football 2014 don’t really live up to some of the other titles. The field looks like a single texture and the crowd shots don’t seem to have evolved from the Playstation 2 days and are so egregious that they really do detract from the rest of the game. Player models are decent, but since they don’t license real people they feel generic. It may be fixed with an early patch, but I also found the game to stutter a bit in certain menu transitions and animations. The play on the field was smooth though so I wouldn’t say it affects gameplay at all.
page 1 page 2 page 3   next