Review – NCAA Football 12

NCAA Football 12 hits the stores tomorrow. Should you pick it up and head for the endzone, or did EA Tiburon fumble the ball? Read our review to find out.



Annual sports games are generally just a rehash of the previous year’s release, with just a few minor bells and whistles added to try to entice you into spending sixty bucks on the same game. This years edition of NCAA Football goes a long way towards breaking that cycle. The changes are many. and the new bells and whistles should impress you.

We decided to start out by playing the “Road to Glory” mode. RTG starts you out as a senior in high school. New for NCAA Football 12 is the ability to play as an iron man. Playing both offense and defense in the same game will put you in a tiresome position, but it also doubles your opportunities from the college recruiters. As you progress through your senior year, different colleges will look at you from both sides of the ball, and make offers accordingly. Keep in mind that you can only go into college at one position, so your decisions should reflect which side of the ball you really want to play.

After creating your player and deciding your home town. The choices are immense and even the small town in Texas we wanted was in there. You then pick three of your favorite colleges that you would like to work towards. You can edit your high school schedule to be just like your real high school schedule. If you want to run all over your high school’s real rival, just enter their name and school colors, and you are good to go. You can always create the teams online using the Teambuilder app from EA’s website, then you can import them directly from your console into your game.

Once you are all set up, you can then see how many scholarship points you need to earn for your favorite teams. This is a new feature that gives you insight into what schools are looking for, and how many more points you’ll need to earn in order to get that offer you are busting your hump for. You’ll earn those points by doing whatever it is you do best. Whether your a QB, HB, DE or CB, just go out and give it your all. Those points will roll in once you start rolling along.

Once you complete your high school career (with a state title we hope), signing day arrives. Your hard work in high school should have earned you a scholarship to your college of choice, so sign up and get ready to work yourself back into a starting position.

Running Wild in the NCAA

Another new feature this year is Coach Trust. How much he trusts you will determine where you fit into his overall game plan. Our HB had an incredible senior year in high school, but still had to start out as third string. To earn the coaches trust, you’ll need to excel at practices until you get a chance to challenge the guy in front of you on the depth chart. We sat out one game then got our first snap as a back-up in game two of the season. Our 54 Yard TD run impressed the coach and earned us a little more trust.

The Coach’s Trust doesn’t stop at just being a starter. Once you make it to Veteran Starter, you can flip plays at the playcall screen. Team Captain comes next, and then you’ll be able to change the play up to 5 times a game. The next level is Hometown Hero and this will allow you to flip running plays at Home. Become the Team Leader and you’ll be able to change plays 10 times per game. As a Powerhouse you’ll be able to flip running plays at away games. Earn the Coach’s max trust and you’ll be a Team Legend. This gives you the ability to change plays up to 20 times per game.

Returning this year are the Skill Upgrades, which are purchasable with experience points. XP is earned during games and practices. These upgrades can either be a one time game boost or a career boost. Making yourself stronger, faster, and/or more maneuverable is never a bad thing, especially if it’s time for the BCS Championship Game.

The Road to Glory is an improved and in-depth adventure that can take you from the bright Friday night lights of high school, all the way to a National Title, if you can earn it.

“Dynasty Mode” has some new additions as well. You can now create a coach and customize him to your likings. His Alma mater and coaching style will factor into job offers, so keep those in mind. You can start out as a coordinator, only controlling one half of the game, and work your way up to head coach, and control all of it. Specific contract items are detailed, and contract goals will determine your future with the organization. Reach your goals, and your future is bright. Start gailing those goals, and your seat will heat up in a hurry. Your Coach Prestigeis your all important rating, and you’ll see it fluctuate depending on how you perform as a coach.

Create a Coach

You can also keep track of how you and other coaches are doing with the new Coaching Carousel. The Job Securitypercentage is a great indicator of who is, and who isn’t, in good standings with their organization. If you are looking for a head coaching position at a certain school, you may want to keep an eye on their coach’s job security. He just might be on the chopping block, and you just might be on top of their short list of candidates. The length of contracts might need to be a deciding factor in some cases.

The Coaching Carousel

New for this year is Custom Conferences. You can re-align the conferences and expand them up to 16 teams to create a super-conference. You can edit division names, bowl tie-ins, and bowl locations. If you want to make sure that the Texas-OU Weekend stays alive and well in Dallas, you can protect rivalries even if the schools are in different conferences. The depth of customization, not only in conferences but in all aspects of the game, has been increased to a level unforeseen in sports games up to this point.

Alma Mater Not Have a Team? Make One!

Included in this years edition are live mascots. Ten new mascots are rendered as live animals. Tennessee Smoky, Texas Bevo, and the Auburn War Eagle are three of them. New player entrances include touch traditions like the pre-game Indiana Rock and the pre-game Texas Longhorn horn Rub. ESPN also has upgraded graphics for quarter breaks, tickers, and game tracks.

No More Flat Grass

Speaking of graphics, the visual upgrades for the game are a welcome touch. Gone is the flat 2D style grass that the previous games had, and in is the 3D modeled grass that can even come up through the snow. Check a still image of your HB cutting back across the field, and you might see some turf turning up under his planted foot. The player animations are also improved, with players actually making contact before any contact animation is rendered. The Collision Based Tackling System assures that the tackle animations look as real as possible.

New HDR lighting is used to change shadows on the fly based on the position of the sun and stadium lighting. Stadium shadows also play into the player lighting and add to the overall visual aspect of the game play. New player uniforms and hair styles are included. Dreadlocks that look and act properly are now available. There are also new helmets, facemasks, and gloves. The uniforms can now get worn out as a game progresses, and the field can as well. Playing in the rain can make for a soupy mess by the end of regulation, and the field can, and will, reflect that. The crowd has been upgraded to give them a 3D rendered look, so cardboard cut-outs are gone.

Dreadlocks Are In

The sounds for the game have been revamped almost completely. Where last year the game used 50 sounds in-game, this year’s edition uses 200. If you play with surround sound, you can actually hear quite a few of these different sounds coming out of different speakers. Custom music for each team’s events is also available. Want to hear “We Will Rock You” whenever the Crimson Tide scores a touchdown? Find the MP3 and put it on your console’s hard drive. You can then set it to rock out in Alabama’s custom menu.

EA Tiburon took a game that had been rehashed several times over, and almost gave it a complete rebirth. They updated the graphics, animations, stadiums, uniforms, sounds, coaches ……hmm…. maybe it was a complete rebirth.

Thank you EA Tiburon. Now where will I put my Heisman?