NCAA Football 12 Review

So often with yearly sports titles we get bogged down analyzing all the different features of each game — “what’s new?” always seems like the most important question. But it’s not, in the case with NCAA Football 12. We’ll get to the features later, but first I want to address what is actually the most important question: does the game deliver a good game of football?

The answer is a resounding yes. With NCAA Football 12, Tiburon has delivered the best game in the franchise and easily the most authentic-feeling football video game ever. They’ve captured the game of football in a way I didn’t think was possible based on my many years of playing video game football.

NCAA Football 12 (PS3 [Reviewed], XBox360)
Developer: Tiburon
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: July 12, 2011
MSRP: $59.99

It’s not perfect. That’s the most damning thing I can say about it, to be honest. I could nitpick the game to death, if I wanted to, but it gets so much right I’d rather hug it to death. NCAA Football 11 was a triumph, but 12 is even better, building on the foundation that game laid down to create something very memorable.

A lot of what makes the game work so well is it’s new dynamic tackling mechanics. The act of tackling with the controller doesn’t feel different, but what the game is doing with tackling certainly does. When I call the tackling dynamic I really mean it — it looks like real-world tackling.

The other changes are less obvious and not so easy to describe, but suffice to say that they add up to create a game that looks and feels like a real game of football, for the most part. Sure, slant patterns are still unbeatable, and post route with the tight end will most often still result in a huge gain, and defensive backs still drop interceptions like the ball is on fire, but this is as close as we’ve gotten to authentic video game college football.

Everything you expect to find in a NCAA Football title is here, with one really badass new addition to dynasty: the ability to alter conferences to your heart’s delight. Previously, teams could only be added to a conference at the expense of another team; now, you can build super-conferences and baby conferences. On top of that, you can change the BCS bowl tie-ins to reflect realignment, but you can’t change the regular bowl tie-ins to compensate for super-conferences having more teams.

Unfortunately, since the game does not include lower division FCS teams, my attempt to consolidate power teams into a few conferences (SEC, PAC-12 and Big Ten), and then having some of the screwed-over conferences add non-BCS conference teams, I was eventually left with a WAC that had four teams. That happened in real life after last year’s conference realignment, but the WAC compensated by adding FCS teams, which, as I said, is not possible here.

Another tweak to dynasty is the ability to sign on only as an offensive or defensive coordinator, and if you do so, then the game will sim through times when your unit isn’t on the field. This is actually quite nice, because I’m horrible at defense. Of course, the sim defense is also horrible; don’t be surprised if you give up 30-40 points a game for no apparent reason, even if you have a 99-rated defense.

Aside from the gameplay tweaks and the custom conferences, just about every feature in the game is pretty much exactly as it was in NCAA Football 11, which is kinda lame, although those aforementioned tweaks make me want to forgive it the lack of other significant changes. Too, 11 was so good that I can’t blame them too much for not shaking it up too much. Still, I’d rather have a true NCAA Football 12 instead of the 11.5 that we have this year.

Ah, I’m pretty happy with it. But I could be more happy.

Most authentic video game football ever
Custom conferences!
It has Mark Ingram on the cover

Aside from gameplay tweaks, it’s pretty much NCAA Football 11.5

Final score: 85/100

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1 Comment on NCAA Football 12 Review

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