Look, I’m not a gamer that loves sports games. I’m not waiting in line for the new Madden title each year, nor am I eager to begin playing a sports game. With that said, I took an honest stab at NCAA 13 and played all of the features it had to offer. I just thought that I would begin by letting you guys know that I’m not an avid fan of these games. Let’s get to it!
So, NCAA 13 is the latest football game from EA Sports. With it’s yearly installation, it comes with some changes from the previous game, such as: two rule changes, a number of new maneuvers and plays, new animations for the characters, and the addition of “Reaction Time” to the “Road to Glory” and “Heisman Challenge” modes. “Reaction Time” is the ability to slow down time, in order to choose the best way to react during the play. Now, I’m no expert on NCAA 12, but are these changes really enough to warrant an entirely new game? Couldn’t almost all of these features have been added as updates or DLC?
Aside from the standard Exhibition matches, NCAA 13 has a Dynasty Mode, Road to Glory Mode, the Heisman Challenge, and a variety of creation modes. Dynasty Mode puts you in the shoes of the coach, allowing you to lead a team to victory by controlling each aspect of the franchise. You are contracted to coach certain teams for a set amount of time, then deciding if you want to stay with your current team or take a better offer from another team. The Road to Glory Mode is almost the exact opposite of Dynasty. You create your own player, then continue his career from High School through College. What was interesting about the Road to Glory, was that it is truly like playing as that character. Unlike the other modes, you’re unable to change plays or characters. This forces you to rely on your team and your coaches. While this is fun for quite a while, it can be more frustrating than fun.
The Heisman Challenge has you playing as one of the previous Heisman winners, recreating their careers. It uses their actual stats as challenges that you attempt to meet, as you progress through their stories. Other than playing as a memorable player and meeting challenges, there aren’t many other differences from the Road to Glory. The problem with all of these game modes is that they only meet the expected standard. These core game modes are nothing that I haven’t seen before or played in 2006. I’ll admit, NCAA 13 runs a little smoother than Madden ’06, but it is fundamentally the same. Personally, the Heisman Challenge and Dynasty Mode fell a little flat. I did appreciate the unique way of playing the Road to Glory, but even that became stale after a few in-game weeks.
The actual gameplay of NCAA 13 is fairly smooth, but suffers from quite a few irritating flaws. I’m not sure if these gameplay issues were due to the actual mechanics, or the restrictions that were placed on the gameplay itself. They have added in new limitations to make the play more realistic, but it really just made it more frustrating. A few annoying limits are: not being able to swat the ball out of the air, unless the character can see it, not being able to throw to receivers until they are ready, and seemingly possessed cameras. Yes, some of these new quirks will make the games seem more realistic, but I won’t care about realism if I can’t get a first down.
Much like every other college football game, the music is mostly comprised of various marching bands performing. Sadly, these impressive songs are limited to menus and loading screens. The graphics are a painfully mixed bag. On one hand, the players look very good and move well out on the field. On the other hand, most of the stadiums look like they are from the Playstation and the crowd has never been more rigid, during plays. Inbetween plays, the camera will cut to the audience to show a few screaming fans, but reverts them back to cardboard cut-outs when the gameplay resumes. I would think by now, we would have advanced the scenery a little bit.
Here’s another fun aspect of the game: EA’s bullshit is in full swing in NCAA 13. You can’t even start playing the game without going through six or seven screens, asking you to log in to EA’s servers, demanding you buy the ability to play online, telling you about the latest DLC, and reminding you to buy the Season Pass. Also, they’ve already got a handful of Heisman players that are locked out. The only thing that can save them is your money! I can’t imagine paying the full $65 for the game, only to find out you’ve got another $25 to go, in order to play the full game. All of the bullshit really piles up when you consider they do this same thing each year. I’m not one to join in on the bandwagon of hatred for EA, but NCAA 13 really did a convincing number on me.
All in all, NCAA 13 can stand on its own, but does nothing to innovate. Clearly, they can only do so much to change a game that is already set in stone, but we’re currently paying $65 for an updated team list and rosters. Unless you’re an avid fan of college football, I’d suggest sticking out the wait to see if the new Madden can bring something new to the table.
I give NCAA 13 3 “Deja-Vu Feelings” out of 5
By Blake Edwards