E3 2011: NCAA Football 12 preview – Madden’s little brother still comes to play

With the recent shake-up of NCAA conferences, we can hopefully expect similar changes in EA’s newest NCAA football game. EA Sports conducted five community events this past winter in an effort to make a more user-pleasing experience, and some of their changes are pretty impressive.

In what is sure to be a fan-pleaser, more extensive team traditions have been added to the majority of the teams. The one we saw, for the Florida State Seminoles, featured a Native American charging across the field on a war horse with a spear and throwing it dramatically into center field. In larger BCS bowls, the field is draped in an American flag during the national anthem and the Blue Angels do a flyover. We can likely expect many more additions for other teams. Sure, they don’t impact the gameplay on the field, but they add to the atmosphere, and that’s a huge part of the college experience.

Following the awesome success of the Road to the Heisman career mode, NCAA Football 12 features a “Coaching Carrousel,” which is a similar progression, but for a coach instead of a player. You begin your career as either an offensive or a defensive coordinator and work your way through the ranks; switching teams and jobs when advantageous. This is destined to create some unique dynamics in which coaches will have to face situations like being stuck with a crappy team in a solid conference in order to advance their career.

In an effort to increase realism, EA has incorporated a number of features that blur the lines separating reality and games. NCAA Football 12 now has a sun that moves across the sky throughout the game, affecting shadows and how easy it is to see both players and the ball. Further, both uniforms and helmets degrade throughout the game depending on weather conditions and contact.

Along with extensive community research, the team behind NCAA Football 12 traveled to a number of stadiums to record the true sound intensity at each. Now instead of a 60,000 person stadium sounding like a 30,000 person stadium doubled; it actually sounds like a 60,000 person stadium (yes, there is a difference between those two scenarios, apparently). All of these changes seem to be a marked effort to break the tradition of simply repackaging old sports games with a new superstar on the cover. Here’s hoping it works.

Jun 15, 2011

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