#3 of 2010: NCAA Football 11

by
Posted January 5th, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Coming off a flat year that created some concern about the future viability of the franchise, NCAA Football 11 stepped up with significant improvements to gameplay and valuable feature additions. Sales numbers got a bump of 8% in the first month showing how the proper priorities could result in a shift of consumer interest, but even accounting for that the series has not been able to display necessary growth throughout the generation. Regardless NCAA Football 11 has become arguably the most complete football game delivered by EA Sports to date.

The ranking of games in the best of 2010 list is based on the personal amount of enjoyment had with a particular title, whether advertised features were fully delivered on, post-release support, community interaction and communication, overall gameplay experience, feature set, and online play performance. Again this is largely a personal take on the games and not a recap of those with the highest scores on Metacritic. The analysis is weighted heavily towards those which I had the most fun with while considering them as a whole and compared relatively to the field.

(Related: Sales RiseOver The Top w/DLC)

Gameplay wise the most significant advancement came via locomotion which made player control fantastic, and in turn the running game more fun than ever. Being able to cut back across the field for example provided that “anything can happen” feeling which is so difficult to tap into with a video game that is playing within certain rules and restrictions. Bringing in different offensive styles also helped to differentiate teams and provide some variety against the CPU.

Overall though the “120 Ways to Win” just felt more like different playbooks than completely different styles. That is probably because mobile QBs for the CPU still don’t run like they should. I don’t know if anyone has ever gotten gashed by an option team? What I did like a lot was the new no-huddle system which allowed for the full playbooks in the personnel packages to be called from on the fly. The use of no-huddle by the user and the CPU made for the different styles to come through more than anything. “Real assignment AI” also made a positive impact on gameplay.

The presentation was upgraded significantly by bringing in the ESPN packages. It was not complete television presentation, and the especially outdated commentary needs a refresh, but the ESPN branding made a big difference. Replays in particular were much better this year though the ultra slow motion on them made it more likely they’d be skipped through.

One of my biggest disappointments with the NCAA series has been a lack of emotion. Where it has been most prominently absent has been with the players. EA Sports did some good in that area this year by adding in team specific entrances for a number of schools and also bringing some of that emotion to the players on the field. There is still much to be done there however to capture the authentic feel of college football.

The biggest selling point of NCAA Football over the past few years has been the Online Dynasty mode and after not much was done with it last year a whole new element was brought in with the web functionality. Info on the dynasties could be looked up on the website but beyond that even recruiting could be completed there. That was a big deal in that the console didn’t have to be fired up just to check up on things or make progress and it could be done from anywhere. Teambuilder remained but pretty much in the same form as NCAA 10 so it would be nice to see some upgrades there in the future.

Post-release support for NCAA 11 was excellent. There were three patches and four tuning packs. The tuner updates were first introduced in NHL 10 and made their way to NCAA 11 with the benefit being they could be delivered without going through a patch process.

That being said there were a number of issues that had to be resolved through that post-release support. There was the play-action rollout screen passes that locked the QB into an animation that ran them backwards for safeties, and weak ratings of recruits in generated classes entering dynasties watered down the talent nationwide a few years in. There was also the offering of downloadable content that rubbed many the wrong way, with even just the ability to be the commissioner of multiple Online Dynasties being charged for.

NCAA Football 11 made a push towards authenticity and improved on gameplay while at the same time remaining really fun to play. Online had great performance and even won the “Best Online Play” award from the community. It is good to see consumers respond positively to the effort made just one year out from what was seen as a down year as that will encourage EA to continue the focus on those areas that are important.

#3: NCAA Football 11
#4: EA Sports MMA
#5: FIFA 11
#6: Madden NFL 11
#7: Kinect Sports
#8: MLB 10 The Show
#9: NHL 11
#10: NBA Jam
The Biggest Stories of 2010
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The Worst of 2010
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  • Angel9

    best football game ever

    • Anonymous

      To me Madden 10 reserves the right to be called best football game ever, especially when it comes to gameplay. But NCAA 11 was the best football game this year.

      • Anonymous

        Madden 10 best football game ever = Epic Fail

        • HaloUnion

          Madden 10 was really good v_v. A huge step towards realistic gameplay which I would argue is the most important factor.

          • Anonymous

            I didn’t say it sucked. I just said it isn’t the best football agme ever. shit wasn’t even ahead of it’s time like MAdden AND NFL 2K5

        • HaloUnion

          Madden 10 was really good v_v. A huge step towards realistic gameplay which I would argue is the most important factor.

      • Anonymous

        Madden 10 best football game ever = Epic Fail

      • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

        Yeah Madden 10 would be right up there. I don’t think it had the feature set to match NCAA 11 though.

        • Anonymous

          Thats why I said gameplay wise it’s the best football game ever. NCAA 11 had some real issues with it’s gameplay; play action, zone defense, man defense and superman jumping DEs. But Madden 10 was sold all the way around. I sold may copy of Madden 11 and us still playing Madden 10 in my 3rd online Franchise season. I just hope Madden 12 can adapt some of the things NCAA 11 got right.

      • HaloUnion

        i hate to say it but 2k5 was maybe a little better. That game was incredibly deep. You could even decorate your pad and play mini games like darts, paper football, and air hockey. That is just a deep game. Also, I don’t understand what it is but something about how players acted/celebrated in 2k5 seemed more like real life unlike all EA sports games which to me look a little cartoonish.

        Also first person football. Wow I miss it. Wish I still had a PS2. That was such a great game.

        But Madden 10 was very good, mainly because they slowed it down and took about 100 steps to more realistic gameplay.

        Too bad Madden 11 was like Madden 10.5.

      • HaloUnion

        i hate to say it but 2k5 was maybe a little better. That game was incredibly deep. You could even decorate your pad and play mini games like darts, paper football, and air hockey. That is just a deep game. Also, I don’t understand what it is but something about how players acted/celebrated in 2k5 seemed more like real life unlike all EA sports games which to me look a little cartoonish.

        Also first person football. Wow I miss it. Wish I still had a PS2. That was such a great game.

        But Madden 10 was very good, mainly because they slowed it down and took about 100 steps to more realistic gameplay.

        Too bad Madden 11 was like Madden 10.5.

        • Xcef2008

          Im thinking about finding a copy of 2K5 just to see what all the hype is about. Besides I planned on getting a PS2 again anyway. But a few questions for you or anyone else. Can you play as all 32 teams like in Madden? Is there a slider set I should know about for realism? Can you edit rookies each year since you can’t use the NCAA series? Thanks!

          • HaloUnion

            I’m pretty sure you can play as all 32 teams but not positive.

            I think they had sliders (i know they did back in 2k3 at least) but by 2k4 I never really edited them as I felt the gameplay was good as is. So yeah probably, although they most likely won’t be near as detailed or useful as Madden’s sliders. Maybe edit the tackling slider to your liking or anything else that you feels is raw. And yeah, I think you can edit rookies which was another great thing that I forgot about. I think I remember editing Big Ben to be like an 89 coming out of college and drafted him to the Bucs :P

            Only thing is, I would suggest when starting the franchise mode (if you play that mode) that you turn off the salary cap because after like 3 years I couldn’t advance.

            And understand that 2k5 is not better than Madden 10 or 11. It is that it was so great for it’s time. Although I may argue that it was better than even Madden 09 ;).

            But yeah you should enjoy it. I put the disc in thinking it wouldn’t be near as good as I remembered and I was wrong. It was pretty darn awesome especially considering it was 5 years ago. I still say it is the best sports game ever. I’m not a 2k fan boy though. I used to buy 2k and Madden. I just try to support the brand that makes the better game at the time.

          • Xcef2008

            Yeah I really enjoyed Madden 10, disliked 11 though. But I figure if I do get a PS2 again for some other games I might as well try 2K5 and see how the game is.

          • Xcef2008

            Yeah I really enjoyed Madden 10, disliked 11 though. But I figure if I do get a PS2 again for some other games I might as well try 2K5 and see how the game is.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Corey-Ragland/13752595 Corey Ragland

            Don’t waste your time, it is overrated

    • Anonymous

      To me Madden 10 reserves the right to be called best football game ever, especially when it comes to gameplay. But NCAA 11 was the best football game this year.

    • Anonymous

      EASY!!!! Pasta WTF you got higher than this game?!?!? NBA2K11 of course but the other…Guess I’ll keep tuning in…

      • http://twitter.com/vlnj13 vlnj13

        Well, obviously NBA 2k11. But what else?

        • http://twitter.com/vlnj13 vlnj13

          Backbreaker was in his worst. I doubt he loved PES Soccer that much. I can’t imagine that it could be UFC Undisputed ahead of EA MMA. MLB 2k10 was a pretty good game but not THAT good, but I could see it if he made the argument that it made huge strides. Could he be counting racing games? Or PC sims? Or Tiger Woods?

          • http://twitter.com/vlnj13 vlnj13

            Maybe EA NHL Slapshot, or Madden/Fifa Superstars?

          • HAHAHA

            stop talking to yourself

      • http://twitter.com/vlnj13 vlnj13

        Well, obviously NBA 2k11. But what else?

    • Anonymous

      EASY!!!! Pasta WTF you got higher than this game?!?!? NBA2K11 of course but the other…Guess I’ll keep tuning in…

  • Guest

    never thought i’d say it, but – hope they bring back Lee Corso for 2012!

    • JohnZapp

      Ya his emotion was soooo funny in the games

  • Anonymous

    I was so blown away by NCAA 11 that Madden never entered my radar. Online Dynasty was awesome, especially with the Dynasty Wire feature.

    Running the ball felt realistic, something that I could not say about any other EA football title before it. Presentation was great, with ESPN graphics included.

    Definitely a top 3 game of the year for sure for me, along with The Show and NBA 2K11.

    • Anonymous

      Presentation can be greatly improved

    • Anonymous

      Presentation can be greatly improved

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=541272451 Vinny Voo Wallace

    NCAA Online Dynasty mode has made this the game of the year for me…I have one that I’m running with 3 of my buddies at a leisure pace and we are all hooked…started in November and we’re in year 3 right now approaching Bowl week

  • Timmy458

    I played NCAA 11 and thought it was a pretty good game. Something that has bothered me a lot in this game and other EA football games is the ridiculous leaping ability by linemen and linebackers, I had plenty of passes intercepted because of their leaping ability. Other than that really I thought this was a great game.

    • Def

      YES . linebackers back pedalling and still leaping 15 ft. in the air to knock down a pass is beyond annoying.

  • JohnZapp

    Best game of the year. hope they get it amazing next year so it would get more sales and hav new technology

  • Anonymous

    This game is a definite top 3 sports game of the year. I’ve never tried an NCAA football game before except for this one. The sole reason I tried it was because of the not-so-much improvements on Madden 11. This game had such a great gameplay that unfortunately Madden 11 can’t hold up to.

  • champ

    probably ufc and 2k as the last 2 games

  • http://www.woodsidemediagroup.com/ Amani

    Great game and a pretty accurate review here. The whole recruiting thing was the only downside to Online Dynasty. For the first season or two (depending on how fast you advance), the recruits and progression would be terrible. The only addition to the web portion should be the ability to do ALL of the offseason activities via the web. Position changes, redshirts and cutting players are the three main functions that come to mind. If they can add that in the game will be ever better. Those are pretty minor things and for some reason the passing and just how the game looks on screen is so much better than Madden. At first I thought it was my TV, but I was wrong. It was the game. I fear NCAA will be the only football game I purchase in the upcoming year. I am interested to hear about future improvements as well.

    • vince

      You can redshirt players in online dynasty. You just have to make sure you do it before each season begins.

      • http://www.woodsidemediagroup.com/ Amani

        Right. I was speaking of redshirting them through the web interface. I have
        not seen an option to do that. Am I wrong?

        Sent via DROID on Verizon Wireless

        —–Original message—–

      • http://www.woodsidemediagroup.com/ Amani

        Right. I was speaking of redshirting them through the web interface. I have
        not seen an option to do that. Am I wrong?

        Sent via DROID on Verizon Wireless

        —–Original message—–

  • jusmegamer

    Good game but it is being overrated because they really need to update teams and players with weekly ratings but they can’t because of the restrictions on college games. Also the gameplay is better but it is still really suspect good game overall though. I really only play like 3 games at a time this game is worthy of being one of my 3 and a big reason is the dynasty mode.

  • Clintbeastwoods

    NCAA AND MADDEN are basically the same exact game that use the same exact engine so I really dont understand why so many people talk about ncaa like its so great! Madden and ncaa both suck! Its funny how people are like madden sucks buy ncaa! Seems to me that the people who say dumb $hit like that must be ea employees or ea ass kissers! I cant think of one good ea game all year!

    • jusmegamer

      I agree all EA football games fall short if your thing is defense, which mines is

    • joeyland

      Agree, and I like the gameplay of PES11 more then FIFA

    • joeyland

      Agree, and I like the gameplay of PES11 more then FIFA

    • joeyland

      Agree, and I like the gameplay of PES11 more then FIFA

    • vince

      Nah. They are both made by EA, but by separate teams from within the company. They are honestly no where near the same game this year. Madden really really sucked this year. If you were to play one game of each it would be blatantly obvious that NCAA had a much more finely tuned gameplay style.

      One reason? The tuning patches. They were able to tweak gameplay easily by adding the tuner option that allowed for tuning updates to quickly adjust things in the game that were malfunctioning.

      When Madden was released the defense was nonexistent at worst and broken at best. NCAA offers a different sideline camera as you approach the sideline, making it easier to focus on making catches, runs, tackles, or pass deflections near the sideline. Madden was just the same old thing.

      NCAA 11 is the first NCAA game I have ever owned. I am generally a Madden buyer. But I can attest that it is vastly superior to madden, regardless of their engine similarity. Hell, madden STILL didn’t fix the lack of uniform degradation, or the shadowing effects that seem to make players look more cartoony than NCAA.

      I will admit that the defense is still not perfect in NCAA, but the DBs actually play the ball and are competent in man coverage, concepts that the Madden team seems to have abandoned.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1394448915 Chad Crabtree

    NCAA had superior locomotion this year to Madden. This resulted in things “looking less weird” and almost to the level of BackBreaker in regards to things just looking right. Add to that, NCAA’s online dynasty is fully featured compared to Madden’s barebones online franchise. I see a few major issues remaining with this game:

    #1. Presentation needs to be upgraded. NCAA 11 used the ESPN license this year, but not to it’s full extent. There is still much to be done here. Additionally, as Pasta mentioned, the commentary needs a refresh after playing the same lines since coming to next gen. Heck, they even REMOVED Corso, which was a mistake because the 3 man team was pretty decent.

    #2. Roster updates. I know that there are restrictions on what EA can do with the rosters, but how about letting us upload our own updated rosters for online dynasty and unranked online games.

    #3. It’s still “EA Ball”. You can call me biased, but as good as NCAA 11 is, the game is still isn’t revolutionary (like a BackBreaker) and still has legacy issues that plague all EA football titles. When you add a stale feel due to it being on the same engine since 07, it can leave people wanting for a new complete engine.

    That’s all I got, NCAA 11 is probably the best sports game of this year due to the fact of its sport’s popularity mixed with being a good, fully featured game.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1394448915 Chad Crabtree

    NCAA had superior locomotion this year to Madden. This resulted in things “looking less weird” and almost to the level of BackBreaker in regards to things just looking right. Add to that, NCAA’s online dynasty is fully featured compared to Madden’s barebones online franchise. I see a few major issues remaining with this game:

    #1. Presentation needs to be upgraded. NCAA 11 used the ESPN license this year, but not to it’s full extent. There is still much to be done here. Additionally, as Pasta mentioned, the commentary needs a refresh after playing the same lines since coming to next gen. Heck, they even REMOVED Corso, which was a mistake because the 3 man team was pretty decent.

    #2. Roster updates. I know that there are restrictions on what EA can do with the rosters, but how about letting us upload our own updated rosters for online dynasty and unranked online games.

    #3. It’s still “EA Ball”. You can call me biased, but as good as NCAA 11 is, the game is still isn’t revolutionary (like a BackBreaker) and still has legacy issues that plague all EA football titles. When you add a stale feel due to it being on the same engine since 07, it can leave people wanting for a new complete engine.

    That’s all I got, NCAA 11 is probably the best sports game of this year due to the fact of its sport’s popularity mixed with being a good, fully featured game.

  • jonathan

    definitely not the “most complete game ever”, lots of features missing since the switch from ps2/xbox, but definitely the best gameplay of any football game released on this generation.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention #3 of 2010: NCAA Football 11 | pastapadre.com -- Topsy.com

  • Ohyadigg

    ESPN Football 2k5 = best football game ever. nuff said.

  • Ohyadigg

    they need to do a lot of updates to ncaa still, like for one adding in a halftime show, its nice to know all your hardwork from 1st half is recognized once again durin a brief break, i also wanna see highlights from other games and scores too, i know i sound like an ESPN football lover but 5 years ago they had that kinda stuff but still madden/ncaa has yet to even come close to that type of presentation. and bring the helmet pop offs back too, you had them back when there were only 3 faces for the entire game but now you have over 100 faces and no helmet pops. point being we wouldnt be seein the same face every time.

    and the fumbles.. im tired of hittin the hitstick or a button once or twice while attempting to be tackled and my guy just drops it, that doesnt happen its not little league football where you cant focus on the football and try to break a tackle. make it more realistic like strictly hard hits or strips, and not having complete control of the ball from the start, poor carrying ability should be the result of an initial hit or competing with a tacklers ability to strip the ball not breakin a tackle your already engaged in unless the ball is clearly exposed.

  • Djfahey

    I would very much like the ratings of players updated as the year goes on or even after it concludes. I have named rosters, but it would be great to have updated team rankings and player rating so you do not get sick playing with the same old teams. Does anyone know where I can get updated player and team rankings?

    Best football game out there. I don’t even play Madden anymore.

  • Koachvonner

    NCAA 11 was awesome. I hope that NCAA 12 can top it. However, knowing EA. NCAA 12 will be the same as 11 maybe with a few more entrances. And Madden 12 will be great. Because Madden 11 sucks. I have never played NCAA so much in my life. Madden, I have played maybe 15 times (no lie)

  • Snooker

    I wish the NCAA Football would be released without a region code or as PAL versions on the Xbox 360.

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