I've heard a lot of forum feedback knocking the IGN videos and other NCAA 12 gameplay snippets for players sliding across the field. It is important to note that videos simply do not do the game justice. NCAA Football 12 is a game that has to be played for many of the improvements to stand out, especially the feeling of player momentum.
Within minutes of playing NCAA 12, I was surprised as to just how evident the addition of momentum impacts the game. Players feel "heavier" in their movements this year, making following blockers on offense and choosing correct pursuit angles on defense necessary for success.
Where the momentum system really shines this year is in the new tackling animations. Gone is the warping that has plagued this series for years, replaced with hits that vary in animation and look realistic. There was nothing more frustrating on offense in NCAA 11 than seeing a defender magically warp three feet into a wrap-tackle animation, not only looking ridiculous, but making you feel cheated. I didn't see any evidence of warping my time with the game, and I was assured by Ben Haumiller that the NCAA team has all but eliminated this nasty little issue.
Momentum is also evident in the game's line play and blocking. Fear not all, the bull rush will not be overused. According to Ben, the ability to successfully pull off or negate a bullrush is dependent upon a players ratings, and size -- so don't expect to see D-linemen bowling over their offensive counterparts all game long. Even better is that O-linemen have the ability to stand up a defender in their tracks, even pancaking them realistically.
When in the open field you will also notice bigger players setting up momentum based block -- following your blockers in this game conveys a sense of fun that I've rarely experienced in a football game.
It is also worth noting that watching a video online of NCAA 12 can not convey how gorgeous of a game this is. The new HDR lighting allows for subtle little uniform details to really shine. I was amazed when watching an in game replay of a big run by my Michigan State Spartans as to how lifelike and realistic the scene looked -- complete with 3-D grass. I really didn't think that visually NCAA 12 could top NCAA 11 and boy was I wrong.
On the field NCAA 12 feels like an extremely polished version of NCAA 11. Fundamentally, if you are a veteran of the series you will have no issue feeling right at home with this game. The biggest improvements I noticed within the first few minutes of playing was that CPU QB's now take off when their pocket begins to break down, and CPU offenses play to their strengths. That's right, not only did I see it first hand, I was also told by Ben that one of the key focuses to this years game was improving the CPU AI and tendencies. Expect offenses that revolve around the option and mobile QB's to actually be dangerous.
One negative note, in the one quarter I played against Oregon as Arizona State (amazing new jerseys included), the Ducks were having a mighty hard time establishing a run game against me from the shotgun. The CPU was able to pick up 1-3 yards per carry, mixed with losses of 3-5. This was a problem that plagued last year's title, and I am hoping this could just be an isolated incident since I was not able to play the specific game to completion. I was playing on All-American difficulty with default sliders.
I'm a huge fan of college football and an even bigger fan of what EA's NCAA team is trying to accomplish with the series. My fear is that NCAA 12 may be unfairly criticized in the weeks leading to its release. As I mentioned, unless you actually play the game you will not really appreciate just how much better NCAA 12 feels when compared to NCAA 11. Thankfully the game's demo will be releasing soon (before the game's July 12 release), giving folks a chance to experience the game for themselves.