NCAA Football 11

8.5 Overall Score

Written by on August 9, 2010 in

I need to make a confession.  I’m a bigger fan of the football played on Saturdays in the fall then the Sunday variety.  Being a student athletic trainer in undergrad, I was able to experience, first hand, playing Alabama in Alabama in a torrential downpour and seeing 100,000+ fans cheering for Penn State against my beloved Southern Miss Golden Eagles.  I remember the first time I set foot on the Superdome floor before playing Tulane University.  Being as that I was raised in New Orleans, actually being on the Superdome floor was an unforgettable moment.  Needless to say, college football has a special place in my heart.  So, every year, I anticipate the release of NCAA Football.  Often referred to as “Madden’s little brother,” this year,  NCAA Football 11 steps out from under big brother’s shadow and shows everyone that little brother can play ball too.

This year, NCAA Football 11 has offers a number of improvements that make it a much better playing experience then its predecessor.  The first thing people will notice are the graphics.  I’m not really a graphics guy but the new lighting system used in this year’s version make the game look remarkably better then NCAA Football 10.  If you haven’t played NCAA Football 10, then you may not notice but anyone who has played previous versions will be able to tell right away.  The second new feature implemented is Locomotion.  What Locomotion does is that it gives the on-screen players more lifelike and realistic movements.

In previous versions, a player could make a 90 degree turn on a dime with no loss in speed or momentum. With Locomotion, the players need to slow down to plant their foot to turn, and then accelerate again like a real person.  It’s all done fluidly and definitely makes everything feel more authentic.  The third big feature implemented was Real Assignment A.I.  Anyone who has played a football game before knows that blocking is what separates a loss of yardage from breaking it downfield for a big gain.  This year, the blocking is noticeably improved.  It’s now possible to establish a run game and it’s no longer necessary to turn every game into a pass-first shootout.  Even with the new blocking, it’s not overpowered.  You’ll have as many 14-10 games as you have 42-38 games.  These improvements tie together into NCAA Football 11’s mantra of “120 Ways to Win.”  What this means is that teams will play more like their real life counterpart then ever before.  Play a team like Georgia Tech and they’ll run the option on you all day.  Play Hawaii and prepare to play pass defense all game as Hawaii operates a Run and Shoot offense.  A team like Missouri will run a no huddle offense on you so you won’t have time to substitute reserves in.  Now different teams feel different as opposed them all feeling like copies of one another.  I had to actually approach each game differently not relying on the same thing always working all the time.

Another improvement that isn’t necessarily a game play improvement is the integration of ESPN.  Now, before and after games, you’ll hear the College Gameday Theme.  You’ll see teams run out into the field, some with authentic entrances like Notre Dame and their sign tap, Clemson running down their hill, and Michigan jumping to touch the Go Blue sign.  Cutscenes occur before, during, and after games and gives the game a lot more personality.  The in-game commentary is still done by Brad Nessler and Kirk Herbstreit but Lee Corso no longer mans the booth.  The commentary is still good but to anyone that has played previous games, you’ll definitely recognize a lot of the commentary.  NCAA Basketball 10 was able to implement 2 different commentary teams so having an additional team of commentary for the smaller games, saving Nessler and Herbstreit for the bigger games would be a welcome addition.  For those that don’t like ads, sorry to let you know that ads are in the game but they aren’t intrusive and fit appropriately within the game.

The meat and potatoes of every NCAA Football game is Dynasty mode.  In this mode, you can pick any team in the country (or import a created team) and vie to turn your program into championship winning powerhouse.  Dynasty mode is offered both offline and online.  In offline dynasty, you (and some local friends) can control up to 12 teams on your way to the top.  Online dynasty is just like an offline dynasty except, well, it’s online.  Now you and 11 of your closest friends (or enemies) can take your team to the top, from the comfort of separate living rooms throughout the world.  Playing an online dynasty has one added feature and that’s dynasty wire. On EA’s website, you can upload pictures, video, and even write stories about each game.  You can then share those stories and highlights via Twitter or Facebook so if you take down your college roommate, you can then share it with the world how you dominated his team.  You can also do all your recruiting from the site if you have any spare time on your job (wink, wink).  It’s a really cool feature but unfortunately, it’s not working as smoothly as one would hope.  My original dynasty was a single player online dynasty but because of server issues, I decided to retire from it.  There were times where I lost recruiting time because the servers went down, there were times where I had to wait 20 minutes just to advance a week (this has been fixed during the offseason but is still present during the season at the time this is being written), and there were times where I was constantly asked to reconnect with the server when it’s been down.  Essentially, I’ve lost a lot of precious life minutes waiting on the servers so let that weigh in on your mind as to whether or not to do an online or offline dynasty, especially a single player one.  The recruiting interface is different this year.  You’ll no longer be able to spam the 1 or 2 things your lowly school is good at to bring in 5 star recruits.  You’ll have to play to your strengths, try to avoid your weaknesses, and try to recruit players that are realistically attainable.  Trying to grab big time players with Eastern Michigan will leave you empty handed without a few years of building their football program up to something more respectable.

Road to Glory also makes a return.  Road to Glory places you in the role of a single player and chronicles you from high school big shot through your last game as a collegiate.  You only play as the one player (you only play offense OR defense) and you have no control over playcalling (quarterbacks have the ability to audible but that’s about it), just like a real player.  Unfortunately, it’s virtually untouched from last year.  The only noticeable improvements to the mode are in the general gameplay improvements like Locomotion.  It’s a fun mode to play, but not very deep.  It’s not a mode a lot of people will spend a lot of time playing.

Online is another big feature of the game.  Those that bought a new copy have access to online play for free but for those who bought it used, online play will cost an additional $10 although you also gain access to Teambuilder teams (create-a-team feature) as well as online dynasty.  I personally didn’t play online but doing research on various message boards, it appears that “cheesers” (people who will use exploits and play in a unrealistic manner) still rule the leaderboards. So unless you have friends to play with, expect some frustrating times playing random people online.

Overall, I have to say that NCAA Football 11 is easily the best NCAA football game this generation and ranks among the best in the series.  In fact, it’s one of the best football games I’ve ever played.  The improvements made in this years version make last year’s version feel very dated.  There’s a solid foundation to continue building upon.  Now that NCAA Football has become a solid starter, it’s time for EA to take the next step and turn the franchise into an All-American Heisman winner.

(Note: With the exception of the first picture, all of the other pictures were taken in game by me.  The last picture is me playing Road to Glory, scoring the game winning TD in the high school championship game as a WR.)

A copy of NCAA Football 11 was provided to The Married Gamers for the purposes of evaluation and review.

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Author: Quantrell Toval View all posts by

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