NCAA Football 12 Online Play Impressions

Posted July 13th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

With an online integrated feature as deep as Online Dynasty in NCAA Football, the series’ suite online play options automatically starts at a floor higher than any other sports title to date. With the typical ranked games, unranked with numerous options, Teambuilder, and more there is no shortage of features. With NCAA Football 12 the Online Dynasty has gotten even better and general online play so far has been stable which is encouraging for the days ahead. 

Standard ranked games involve five minute quarters on All-American difficulty and that feels as though it provides good balance and proper time to implement strategy. Ranked games against friends can be prompted in the lobby rooms. Unranked games can be set up with a number of different options even the use of Teambuilder squads. There is also the chance there to use “even teams” where the ratings for both sides will be identical regardless of the teams chosen.

Online games still offer the opportunity to save highlights and screenshots after they finish. Named rosters (360, PS3) do properly transfer to online games so they are visible in all modes. I’ve yet to come across any bad weather or night games but I have been told by others they have played in bad weather. Neither is an option even for unranked. I’m assuming at this point they did not add in night games which is an oversight considering the different atmosphere those deliver.

Online Performance
Games have been consistent and responsive. There is a very slight delay that tends to only be noticeable with the kick meter. Players do feel a bit heavier though due to that delay taking some of the ‘twitch’ opportunity out. There seems to be some issue with quitters not getting the loss or the win going to the person quit on – though it hasn’t been determined at what point in the game being passed should trigger a result.

Most of the presentation elements have been removed. There are no intros or highlight packages or “Game Tracks”. This is understandable due to time constraints and most users likely to skip them anyway in the online environment. Still it would be nice to have those things integrated in the future. Surely they could come up with a way to feature them while at the same time progressing through a game at the faster clip.

Custom Playbooks
One of the great aspects of this anticipated new feature was being able to take the custom playbooks anywhere – Play Now, Dynasty, Online Dynasty, and Ranked/Unranked online games. The glitch that has been discovered though may discourage many from utilizing the feature. Right now its a “use at your own risk” situation and that can be unappealing at the very least to walk into.

Its been well publicized that Teambuilder received very few upgrades this year…in fact it went largely untouched. The feature remains excellent despite the lack of improvement and created teams generally transfer through well. Mentioned in my full impressions however is how field text sometimes appears quite poor in definition. That is even more apparent with TB where text varies and can end up stretched making things look worse. There have also been some mix-ups reported with uniforms and details when the teams have been taken into Road to Glory’s high school season. Teambuilder squads can be used in Online Dynasty or in unranked games.

Online Dynasty
The premiere feature of the NCAA Football 12 franchise looks to be fantastic with all of the offline features and more that can be done through the website tie-in. There is even the ability to have all owners start as coordinators then having to work up to becoming head coaches and custom conferences can be set up when initially building the dynasty. The website promises functionality to advance weeks (delayed till August) and supersim games – both as paid DLC – while the features of the past such as recruiting and viewing records and stats remains and for free.

The big concern towards Online Dynasty right now relates to throttling being placed on advancement. Users have been forced to wait in line for their dynasties to move from one ‘week’ to the next. Many reported wait times that far exceeded an hour which is completely unacceptable. Wait time to advance a dynasty would be a devastating blow to the mode but as of a few hours ago it looks to have been removed. The situation will continue to be monitored. (Update) Well the queue is back and ridiculous. Currently I sit 109th in line to upload dynasty data. If this continues I’ll have to expose the situation further.

Online Play appears to once again be a strength of the NCAA Football series. That may be primarily due to the fantastic Online Dynasty mode but even the general experience with random ranked and unranked games are about as good as can be expected out of a sports title. More options should be added (particularly night games) and Online Dynasty should consider expansion to 16/20/24 owners but otherwise the current slate of features is engaging and the performance is up to par.