College ball at its best
When it comes to console football games, Madden is usually at the forefront of most people’s thoughts, but Electronic Arts is determined to bring NCAA football into the light like we haven’t yet seen. Tiburon put a lot of work into NCAA 11 and it really paid off. The in-game visuals look great. The lighting, character models, and model interaction all look better than they have in previous years.
The graphics are not the only thing that has improved in this year’s title. Once you start up the game, you will start to notice that the players actually behave like real players. The A.I. is improved, and it really adds to the experience of the game. After years of getting stuck behind my own teammates as they fail spectacularly to block for me, only to be hit from behind, it felt amazing to blast through the hole created by my blockers for a solid gain.
Later, I threw the ball to my receiver at the edge of the field, and instead of running out of bounds to make the catch, he planted his feet inbounds and reached up for the grab. There were fewer instances of launching a pass to my receiver and having it hit him square in the back because he didn’t turn around to catch it and much more of players doing their best to make the grab if the ball comes within reach. This type of awareness makes the gameplay feel smooth and natural. It’s small things like this that make NCAA 11 so much fun to play.
As I mentioned earlier, the character models as well as their interactions with each other look good. This is most apparent when you tackle the ball carrier. In older titles, I would chase the ball carrier, dive, and barely catch him, but instead of tripping up his ankles I magically climbed up his legs and wrapped around his waist. It was always funny to see, but far from realistic. Fortunately, these funky, unnatural tackles are no more.
I didn’t run into any major bugs while I was playing. The only problem I encountered was a strange camera bug on a PAT, where the camera angle was way off to the side. It was strange, but only happened one time and didn’t really make the point difficult to make.
The game the same as previous titles, but in a game like this, the sound isn’t a major feature that players are looking for. However, while the general game sound isn’t noteworthy, the commentators were weak. They were rarely up to speed on the plays, and even made false statements on occasion. For instance, in one of the games I was playing my receiver made a diving grab, but according to the commentators he made the grab and then was tripped up by defenders.
The controls for the game remain relatively unchanged, the main difference being the more natural reactions of the players to your commands. The most noteworthy thing about the controls was the dual stick function. The left stick is used to move the player, while the right stick is used to control the player’s upper body. While running it isn’t of much worth, you will be more worried about using the stiff arm and juke controls. It really comes into its own on defense, where it becomes the hit stick. When engaging an opponent that is blocking, moving the right stick will try to shake the blocker. When engaging the ball carrier, the right stick is used to lunge into him for the tackle. This allows you to attempt to tackle the ball carrier without committing to a dive, which if missed, results in losing your chance to stop them.
There are many features and several game types offered by NCAA 11, including the Road to Glory mode where you manage your team to victory through the season. In career mode you not only have to play to win your games, but you also have to manage your rosters and depth charts. While managing your rosters, you are able to look at prospective players, make deals, and promise scholarships to sway them to play for you. This adds an interesting element to the game because if you can make the deal sweet enough, you can take players from other teams. This negatively affects that team’s performance, furthering your cause for a winning season. The only drawback is that some of the features are tricky to work, and you will have to brush up on your college ball dialect if you want to be able to tell what some of the features even do. Not to mention the time investment required to make the most of them. Fortunately for the casual gamer, NCAA 11 will simulate through anything you don’t want to do yourself.
Also returning to NCAA is the Dynasty mode, which remains unchanged for single player. The online Dynasty mode is where the game really sets itself apart. Players can use not only their console to interact with the other players, but also their computer and mobile phone. This function can really engage those players that love college ball and the competition that comes with it. Each player is allowed ten hours per week to talk to each of their thirty-five prospects. These talks can include promises of playtime or scholarships, as well as comparisons of your school against others. Using the right tactics while recruiting can make all the difference in helping you fight your way to the top of the Dynasty Online food chain.
Overall, NCAA 11 is a great game. The solid controls, improved graphics, and the natural feel of the gameplay help make up for the lack of new gametypes, while the Dynasty Online mode engages players in a way unlike any other sports franchise on the market. If you love college ball, or even if you are looking for a good football game to play, then NCAA Football 2011 is definitely worth picking up.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.5 Graphics
With improved graphics and smoother character models, NCAA 11 is easily the best looking game in of the franchise. 4.7 Control
Nothing new in the control department, but they remain solid and with the improved graphics and physics, the players respond better than ever to your commands. 3.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music and sound was decent, while the commentary voice over regularly fell behind while commentating on each play. 4.0 Play Value
Despite the relative lack of new content, the one new feature, Dynasty Online, will keep you coming back for more. 4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.