Published on July 11th, 2012 | by Danny Concepcion, Contributor
NCAA Football 13 Review
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3
Developer: EA Tiburon
Release Date: July 10th, 2012
Review Notes: GAMINGtruth received a copy of NCAA Football 13 for review purposes.
Every EA Sports franchise goes through several revisions over the course of a typical console generation. They eventually hit a high point towards the end of a generation before getting gutted and redeveloped for new hardware. So while it’s not the revamp fans may have hoped for, NCAA Football 13 is easily the franchise’s peak title during this console cycle.
EA Tiburon has successfully fixed several of the issues in the series without introducing many new ones. The most notable of these is the improved passing game. By using the left analog stick, players have more influence over where the ball lands when making passes. This makes it easier to throw the football at a receiver under coverage. Defensive players won’t leap 20 feet into the air and make wild interceptions anymore either. Unfortunately, receivers are still way too passive.
If your star receiver is covered by some nobody safety, the safety will still probably make the interception. The game uses “best-on-best matchups,” so that star receiver is probably covered by a skilled safety, but receivers still don’t aggressively pursue the ball. Some other tweaks include receiver-specific pump fakes, more drop-backs, and the ability to cancel out of play action fakes to avoid getting blitzed.
Dynasty mode’s scouting and recruiting have a little more depth as well. Scouting high-rated prospects can reveal hidden attributes, and whether their stats are really as good as originally rated. Player interest is also more dynamic. If a team is on a hot streak, then it affects certain statistics that can influence prospects.
The game still has some minor issues, but all the small refinements really make NCAA Football 13 a much more rage-free experience, especially when playing online or on higher difficulties.
This year’s iteration also introduces The Heisman Challenge, a new game mode allowing players to control previous Heisman winners, such as cover athletes Robert Griffin III and Barry Sanders. Players have to complete challenges and reach statistical milestones throughout a season to increase their odds of attaining the coveted Heisman trophy. Additionally, they can place the hopeful Heisman winners in whichever team they please.
The game mode’s most prominent mechanic is “Reaction Time,” which is essentially slow motion. For example, the feature can be utilized to slow things down enough to find a window between heavy coverage from defenders. It’s a finite resource, and players have to play well to earn more uses. It’s a fun game mode that can be easily played in short bursts.
Players will also notice revamped presentations in both graphics and cut-scenes. An ESPN ticker occupies the bottom of the screen, and between plays, the game will provide commentary on other big games throughout the country. But, between the constant instant replays and live studio updates, the interruptions become more annoying than anything. These vignettes interrupt the game between almost every single play. Players will find themselves mashing buttons shortly after every whistle is blown just to skip everything and get back into the game.
NCAA Football 13 is a much more refined game than previous NCAA Football titles, but that’s all. It’s clear the series can’t improve much more in its current state, especially with the next generation’s shadow looming over us. Everything the game introduces could have been distributed via downloadable content (DLC). It’s an old argument, but one that’s so much more noticeable with this entry in the series. NCAA Football 13 is in many ways better than its predecessors, but it’s only really distinguishable when put side-by-side against them. Overall, it’s a good game. But you may feel you’ve played it already.
+ Small tweaks will please hardcore fans
+ Heisman Challenge’s goal-oriented gameplay is a welcome change of pace
– Still feels like the same old NCAA game
– Live updates and instant replays interrupt game too frequently