The release of NCAA Football 13 is only a few short weeks away. But what do we know about the game so far? The demo is out, so the short answer is “a lot.” But there are a number of things that remain uncertain that will affect whether NCAA Football 13 goes down as the best NCAA game of this console generation or as another disappointment.
We know that importing draft classes from NCAA to Madden isn’t going to be possible this year, so for all those gamers who claim to buy or rent NCAA only to create the draft classes – don’t bother. We know this feature is gone, but what we don’t know is if anyone will miss it. The Madden team has promised interesting draft classes with backstories like those found in Head Coach 09. If these stories are compelling enough, I doubt too many gamers will be complaining that they can’t import “real” college players to use in the NFL. Then again, maybe I’m underestimating the appeal of bringing real NCAA players into Madden. What do you think, OS readers? Is the loss of exported draft classes a huge problem?
The passing game has received a significant overhaul. Psychic defensive backs have been toned down and routes that used to be pointless now appear to be effective. Opening up new passing options could tilt the game heavily in favor of human players on offense. But to counter the new potential variety in passing, human players face new constraints. Some receivers start each play with their passing icons invisible, symbolizing that they’re not looking for a pass yet. Drop back too far behind the line of scrimmage, and you’ll lose the passing icons as well. Plus, from my time with the demo, it seems like CPU defenders are interception-crazy, especially on the deep ball. What we don’t know, though, is if these countermeasures will be enough. Even against Alabama’s defense on the demo, I’m completing a very high percentage of my passes. Is this a reflection of the demo being set on an easy difficulty level, or has passing become too easy?
Also, in the Heisman Challenge as Robert Griffin III, I’m seeing a huge number of interceptions. If the game finds “balance” by having human-controlled quarterbacks complete 20 of 25 passes with four interceptions, nobody’s going to be happy with that either. The early reviews will give some indications of how the new passing system works, but I suspect it will take a month or so before everyone has had time to adjust and can make a reasoned judgment about whether the new passing system is a net positive.
Recruiting also should look very different. Finally, the game has included sleepers and busts (something I’ve been yelling about for a while).
But sleepers and busts only work if your CPU competition doesn’t “know” who’s going to thrive or crumble without scouting them. If every two-star sleeper has offers from USC, Alabama and Ohio State, then there will be no fun in looking for gems. Speaking of scouting, you’ll have the potential to scout prospects and reveal more accurate ratings as you recruit them. From the videos we’ve seen, it looks like this feature is implemented well – much better than the debacle that was scouting in Madden NFL 12’s franchise mode. Again, though, the success of this feature depends on what happens with the CPU-controlled teams. In truth, I doubt we’ll ever know how CPU scouting works as it should all happen behind the scenes in the game. But it would be nice if we saw CPU teams’ interest in players warming up or cooling as they learned more about a player. Personally, I can’t wait to recruit with the new system. I just hope the system lives up to its promise.
Finally, we’ve learned a lot about the new Heisman Challenge mode, which will allow gamers to take control of past Heisman Trophy winners and place them on any team while attempting to replicate their best seasons. The demo gave us some time with RG3, who should be one of the most popular players to use. The demo also introduced us to the gimmick that allows us to slow down time and look for an open receiver or running lane. Surprisingly, I found the feature to work pretty well, particularly in concert with the new passing system. What’s not clear, though, is if this mode will be fun as a running back or a wide receiver. As a quarterback, you can make sure that you touch the ball every play. Can gamers stay interested if they’re running a decoy route or pass protecting?
OS readers, what are your big questions about the game? What things are you waiting to see play out? And what do you want to know about before you decide whether to buy the game?