A college football Saturday is unlike any other normal Saturday. There are fans tailgating hours before the gates even open, bands playing their school’s song, and players sacrificing everything to earn another victory; all are a part of the immense college football atmosphere. NCAA Football, EA and Tiburon’s yearly title, is back and looking to bring an experience that you could only find if you were actually at the stadium. Does the game bring a fresh, exciting twist on college football, or is it simply another year, another title?

First off, NCAA Football 12 handles better than any other title over the years. From the tackling system being overhauled to the ability to truly command the play you’re running, NCAA Football 12 fixes what was broken while leaving fantastic gameplay you have grown to know and love. When running the ball, the ball carrier will not have a tackler sucked into him, making an unauthentic tackle like we have seen in previous years. Though this is not a core aspect of the game, the few tweaks have created an authentic experience close to what you see on Saturdays.

The highlight of this year’s title might be the stellar presentation. ESPN is back, but integrated in a accurate way. ESPN pre-game introduction resembles what you would see prior to a Saturday kick-off. Commentary is better than ever, with plays correctly analyzed by the guys in the booth. Along with the TV introduction, schools’ pre-game traditions are added to create an authentic college football environment. Traditions such as Florida slapping the gator, NIU slapping the husky, and Colorado running out with their famed buffalo are all included and add to an already engaging presentation.

What EA and Tiburon have yet to fix are the little nagging issues that have been present in the series since its beginning. Players disappearing into the stands behind the field goal are just one of these problems. Also, besides the cinematic fan poses throughout the game, the crowd looks as horrible as ever. I understand that it is hard to generate 50,000 plus fans, but I expected a better detailed crowd. While these little issues do not detract from the overall experience, long-time fans of the game will be aware of them right away.

This year, the title focused on changes to the Dynasty and Road to Glory modes. The core component of last year’s dynasty—the ability to be in a league with all your friends—is still present, but customizable features headline the mode. Creating and naming your own conferences is just one of these additions. Creating conferences is a shining addition, as the competition in your Dynasty can now be even instead of certain teams getting higher quality opponents in a conference. NCAA Football 11’s Road to Glory mode was almost an exact clone to the 2010 mode, but thankfully the mode in 12 has been redone for the better. Instead of just practicing to earn the starting spot, you will have to gain experience points, and then earn the trust of your coach to maintain your spot, but that’s not all. You will also have to compete against the man behind you, as a challenge to your starting spot can come at any time. Experience points can be used to boost your player’s stats, such as throwing or running.

Overall, NCAA Football 12 brings a true college football experience that has been unseen in the franchise. Simple fixes to problems that have kept the past titles from receiving high scores have been fixed. Added features to modes, such as Dynasty and Road to Glory, will keep you playing longer than ever before. Fans will definitely appreciate the steps taken by Tiburon to create a game that accurately depicts what college football is all about: tradition. While the game is still not perfect, NCAA Football 12 is a title that any sports fan should pick up and enjoy.

Score: 8.5/10


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