NCAA Football 12 continues the trend of constant improvement that has been the trademark of this franchise over the last few years. This year’s installment goes even further in refining and expanding upon what was already an excellent set of features. As a sport, the way football is played doesn’t change. So what the team at EA Sports has figured out, is that ultimately it’s going to be about doing the little things. Those often overlooked subtleties that make the game so real, we forget we are actually playing a game.
From a presentation standpoint, they have made more improvements than I can count. The introduction of 3D grass effects actually goes a long way towards bringing the authenticity of the game home. Even as small as it seems now, I got really stoked when I saw the grass come up through the snow The brand new HDR lighting effects really add depth to the game, as colors and shades change on the fly as you move around the field. This becomes very apparent when you start a game in the late evening and things look one way, but as soon as the sun goes down and the stadium lights come on, you start to see things that you couldn’t see before. They definitely listened to the community gripes about field and uniform degradation, which is much improved. You won’t just get the same stains in the same places anymore, and it looks much more natural. They have introduced a ridiculous amount of new gear too. Trust me, you will be surprised at how much detail they have put into some of this stuff. One of the things that I love about NCAA Football 12 is that they didn’t just give a lot of attention to the big schools; they showed lots of love to the smaller teams as well. While I am sure that there may be some inaccuracies with the smaller schools, they still put a lot of effort into it. I mean when a school like Louisiana Tech has 4 alternate uniforms, you know these guys were working hard. To really bring home the college experience, they put in all-new coach interactions with the players, which is very similar to what we have seen in Madden for years.
Tackling looks absolutely great this year! Not just because they added tons of new animations, but because they fixed a bunch of glitches to make everything as realistic as possible. I know I am not the only person that used to get annoyed when the tackle animation started before you even got touched. Things like that, while not that critical, go a long way towards making the game as authentic as possible. They even added a new tackle animation that will cause you to lunge at a player that is not quite close enough to tackle, but not far enough requiring a dive. When you do have to dive for a pass that is a little too far, you will get a brand new and pretty slick looking animation. But enough of this stuff, let’s talk about some of the brand new concepts in this year’s game, along with improvements to a few of the existing things.
NCAA Football 12 marks the debut of Coach Mode, in which you are responsible for everything until the point the ball is snapped. You can adjust coverage, blitzes, hot routes, and whatever else you like. However, once the play starts the CPU does all the work. They even put in a brand new camera angle for you to watch your plays get executed – a pretty nice broadcast style angle.
To be blatantly honest, I don’t like it. The mode itself is well done, but it’s just boring. I mean who wants to control everything up to the point the ball is snapped, and then watch helplessly as the CPU messes stuff up. I see where they were trying to go with this mode, but it is nowhere near deep enough to deliver anything memorable.
You have been asking for them for years, and now the EA Sports team has finally obliged. In NCAA Football 12, you can create up to 15 unique offensive and defensive playbooks (15 OFF/15 DEF). Custom Playbooks are one of the single biggest improvements in this year’s game – period. The value of being able to have so many different playbooks is that you can customize them for your needs. If you are like me, you might use one playbook for your Dynasty, another when you go head to head with someone, and perhaps another for certain teams you like to play with to exploit their strengths and hide their weaknesses.
This is another one that the community has been asking for – the ability to shape conferences in any way you see fit. You can take small conferences like the WAC and Conference USA, and make them power conferences. You can decide everything from what day of the week a team will play their games to where the championship game is played. The only limit on this one is your imagination, personally I’m wondering how teams like USF and Western Kentucky would do in a new-look SEC.