Don’t lose the Heisman like Reggie.
Unfortunately, summer can’t last forever. Soon enough the sun won’t be visible through clouds, trees will be bare, and we will all be hanging up our swim trucks and bikinis. But fear not, because we’ll trade them in for Jacuzzis, fancy fur coats, and most importantly, shoulder pads and helmets. That’s right, football is just around the corner! With all of the coverage of the 2012 Olympics, for now, football has been set to the media’s back burners. Anticipation is still present, though. And I’m sure once fall is actually here, interests and focus will be 100% on gridiron action.
Every generation has a handful of little boys with the aspiration of one day playing professional football. For them to achieve this dream they must first go through a gauntlet, working their way up through the ranks: peewee, pop warner, middle and high school. And for those good enough, college scouts will be sending recruitment letters in no time. College football, in many ways, is an internship for the young men wanting a full time job as an NFL pro.
Just like any job, you must first have the qualification. One of the best qualifications you can list on your resumé as a college standout is having won the Heisman award—a collegiate MVP. NCAA Football 13 wants to showcase the struggles and triumphs of receiving such an award. There are two main modes in which this is done: Road to Glory and Heisman Challenge.
Road to Glory allows you to create a custom player and begins your road to greatness at the high school level. As you play through a season, your goal is simply to impress scouts and possibly gain a scholarship to a university of your choice. After playing for an entire college season, the Heisman award may be within your grasp, if your performance is up to par.
One of the newest features, Heisman Challenge, has you select a past Heisman winner and play their MVP season just as they did. I’ve played as Desmond Howard and have already smashed all of his records and am a shoe-in to recreate the Michigan star’s incredible campaign. This mode has to be the biggest and brightest in NCAA Football 13 by far. Not only do you play through an entire season, but there are player bios, videos, stats, and other information on each player. DLC and preordered copies will earn you more past winners to choose from.
NCAA Football 13 is all about presentation, not just with all of the new features and upgraded animations, but also in having a more authentic representation of college football. EA wants you to feel what it’s like on campus and at the stadiums. From true progressive lighting, motion blur, and uniform pieces, graphics on the field are more lifelike than ever.
Funny enough, most of the new additions are elements from EA Sports’ bigger franchise Madden. Before, it is as if they just weren’t thinking of implementing the same features, even though both games are virtually the same. Now, it’s the same game; only difference is that these young men’s talents can be exploited without having to pay them a dime.
Gameplay actually does have a bit more to offer than just a few tweaks. Once again, it is all about being realistic and the biggest changes have come with how players perform. No longer will a quarterback drop back 15 steps, back peddling away from defenders, to then throw an 85-yard bomb to a wide open receiver. Just like in real life, a QB has about 3 to 5 steps and 3 seconds to make a pass.
The cool part about drop backs is that they are automatic. It isn’t necessary to pull the analog stick back to initiate the move—just hike the ball and look for a receiver. But now when attempting to throw to a teammate, you must make sure they are ready for the ball. At the start of each play, receivers are dimmed and will light up when they are looking to get the ball. Remember the movie The Replacements when Falco hits his receiver in the head with the ball because the guy wasn’t looking? Well, that’s the case here, except all of your friends will laugh and point at you for not passing to the right guy.
At moments, though, NCAA Football 13 tries too hard and goes over the top with the additions: “Look at the total control passing or check out the throwing animations. Hey, hey, don’t forget about the recruiting enhancements!" All the shiny new trinkets are being forced upon us all at once. It hasn’t quite made much sense why they have all been released so late with this edition. I’m sure the technology and ideas have been around. Well, at they're available now.
With all of the new cool things to look at on the field, picking a game mode to play through can be tough. It’s actually fascinating how much there is to do and see. However, “coach a game” is one of the options they could get rid of. I’m not sure how many will take interest in just calling plays from the sideline... only to watch the team constantly make poor decisions. Dynasty and Online Dynasty have return but are virtually untouched from previous installments. It seems EA wanted to focus more on making a friendly game that can appeal to the masses. A nifty feature that’s “fun for everyone” is 1-Button Mode, which mostly dumbs down the plays and only allows you to throw to one receive using the X button. Let your mom have a try.
There are plenty of other options to tinker with: team management (editing players of course is available but edit coaches too!), custom play book, team builder, and roster sharing with friends online. The excitement just seems to never end, with ESPN videos, trophy cases, news, and even ESPN On Demand. It’s crazy!
Whatever helps soothes your football fix, I’m sure NCAA Football 13 has it. The franchise is still great for hardcore enthusiasts and can be shared with beginners. The whole show, plus the production value, is what makes this one a keeper. Not a bad summer title to pick up if you ask me.