NCAA Football 13: Hits and Misses

Posted July 16th, 2012 at 11:30 am

It wasn’t long ago that the NCAA Football series was the football product from EA Sports that took risks and innovated. In fact, many perceived NCAA to be the testing ground for Madden, and that had its benefits and share of drawbacks. Madden played it safe to try and placate a significantly larger userbase while NCAA was able to target what college football fans and those passionate about the series wanted.

Roles between those two franchises however have reversed in the last couple years. NCAA Football 13 is a product with depth to please the hardcore and features to attract more casual players. However the entire package is plagued by uninspired execution and a lack of vision. Continue on for a breakdown of where NCAA 13 succeeded and where it came up short in this ‘Hits and Misses’ review.


NCAA Football 13 looked to address many of the legacy issues that had plagued the series. For the most part EA was successful in doing so even if the benefits are somewhat subtle.

Throw trajectories allow for better ball placement – with no more worries about super jumping line backers picking off passes they shouldn’t be able to reach – and receivers catch the ball in much more natural fashion which doesn’t just look better but creates more run after the catch potential. The CPU QB AI is much more aggressive in running with the ball whether designed or when the play breaks down. Defensive backs have lost that sense of being “psychic” that plagued the series for so long.

Play-action doesn’t have to be avoided anymore! It’s a great relief to be able to re-insert that in the gameplan. Screen plays are also more effective and the QB dropbacks usually make that possible. It’s actually beneficial to let the AI control the dropbacks particularly for timing routes but also to free yourself up to better concentrate on reading the defense and seeing the routes as they develop down the field.

Sliders appear effective and Heisman difficulty may this year be providing the best results. Typically All-American is the level the game is tuned for and Heisman becomes the one where the CPU just feels artificially hard. It may be worth trying out for those who generally don’t ramp up to Heisman but are looking for a better or more organic challenge.

EA has continued to build on Dynasty mode rather than revamp it. The dynamic pitches, scouting, and enhanced phone calls have proven to be worthwhile additions. They’re not going to get anyone uninterested in Dynasty to want to commit to the mode but those who already spend hours within it will appreciate them.

The in-game presentation elements – Studio Updates and ESPN Bottom Line Ticker – are effective in engrossing the user more within their own dynasty universe. The website offers a number of options for accessing the dynasty and even interacting with it though a couple options are held back as DLC.

All that being said Dynasty is still quite overwhelming and can quickly become tedious for both newcomers and veterans. That’s a growing concern EA will have to address soon.

Performance has been quite good – particularly for a release week – and Online Dynasty remains the crown jewel of user-connected sports gaming modes when it doesn’t get halted with transfer errors. Despite some sparse reports of problems OD appears to be much more reliable this year. Something new will need to be added in the near future though as regular online play has become stagnant due to the lack of options. Nothing new online related has been added since NCAA 09 when OD was introduced.

Though too much could would be perceived as a negative – and its arguable that is the case this year for many – consumers look for at least some sense of familiarity from year to year. It could be that stability is a better way to frame it but there’s something to be said about not having to re-learn how to play or get caught off-guard by an omission. It’s clear what the total package of NCAA 13 is offering. Buy into the game or pass on it knowing everything you need to know about the product. There shouldn’t be any surprises good or bad with NCAA 13. For some that means a level of comfort they value and for others it’s a lack of discovery and freshness that is detrimental to the experience.

NCAA Football 13 continues the series’ run of displaying exceptional graphics particularly in replays and screenshots. It’s unfortunate then that the addition of “motion blur” which was advertised as an improvement actually hampers the way the game looks to an extent. A real head-scratcher not only why EA added it but why they’d tout it as something people should be excited about.


Despite all the nice gameplay improvements delivered for NCAA Football 13 there are just as many remaining problems or new ones that have arisen. The CPU still can’t run out of the shotgun and struggles to run the option, their clock management is sketchy, and offensive line blocking is generally competent but too often exposed for how it remains severely troubled. Safeties have shown some terrible awareness – it’d be fine if it was just occasionally blowing a coverage but these instances are due to programming flaws.

User control of players just isn’t very good this year. Even button responsiveness when it comes to user catches, user swats, or user pick attempts often go completely unregistered. Rare is the time a deep ball is overthrown and not underthrown. Defenders seem to get superhuman speed bursts through the line of scrimmage. Playbooks don’t default to special teams on 4th down, touchbacks are placed at the 26 instead of the 25, and despite widespread recognition that SuperSim has been broken EA didn’t bother to fix it this year.

The NCAA series has changed course from being daring to crafting features more in tune with what the marketing department would request. Heisman mode has surely been a marketing dream for the company and the advertisements and concept behind it have generated high levels of awareness. That’s effective for them but it’s not what fans of the series had been looking for and leaving them unfulfilled is more costly in the long run.

NCAA 13 went without the “Infinity” engine physics and Kinect functionality that Madden will be debuting next month. Features like Teambuilder have gone untouched for years, SuperSim hasn’t been fixed, there is still only a single playable camera angle, and load times along with the MLB: The Show series remain the worst in all of sports gaming. In general gameplay did not differentiate itself enough from recent years while areas like presentation and emotion remain sorely lacking.

It’s understandable with how many programs there are that inaccuracies and inconsistencies would be found from team to team. The number of missing new uniforms and those still incorrect though was especially startling with NCAA 13. The company also lost the rights to several school fight songs. EA even flubbed by forgetting to add South Alabama along with the three other new FBS schools.

Last year the lead devs on the NCAA series attended the “Under the Lights” game between Notre Dame and Michigan. That game had explosive atmosphere and emotion and some memorable presentaiton making it all the more disheartening that the company still hasn’t been able to translate a comparable experience to the video game.

Presentation is a bizarre mishmash of broadcast style with cameras for replays coming from on-the-field perspectives that don’t exist. Post-play scenes are less awkward but still often disconnected from the result of the play. Crowd noise is not the factor it should be. Commentary has gotten stale and with the loss of Erin Andrews for next year maybe that’ll be the catalyst to do more in that area.

The biggest addition to NCAA Football 13 is the Heisman Challenge. It’s not a bad idea conceptually – it doesn’t have much of a hook for anyone not emotionally invested in any of the players or those who might get a kick out of legends on rival schools – but there isn’t much of a payoff or feeling of accomplishment to come by racking up obscene stats with what feels like ultra-high rated shells of generic individuals in place of their former selves.

Play calling in both Heisman and Road to Glory have been slanted to favor the position in control. It seems that about 80% or more plays are initially called with that player in mind and the ability to change plays is present as well. Some might feel it is a bit much but clearly these modes are meant to please people who just want to put up big stats or earn XP at any cost. “Reaction Time” is there to slow down the action and it works for Heisman – gives the legends a sense of being special that is otherwise completely lacking – but feels totally out of place in Road to Glory. One minor change on the positive side within these modes is the camera follows the action once the ball leaves the QB rather than sitting back leaving the user to wonder what happened down field.

Road to Glory also has a series problem with “Coach Trust” that needs to be addressed in a patch. Players are too often penalized for things out of their control and on higher difficulty have an almost futile task ahead to keep a starting job due to the negative point distribution.

Earlier CoverageNamed Rosters Available – Uniform Updates Coming – Online Impressions – Online Dynasty Website – General Impressions – Heisman Challenge Impressions – Loading Time Evaluation

The NCAA series has really lost its way in recent years as EA ceased attempts to make it an ambitious and innovative product. It’s a game still rich in features and depth but failing to deliver true college atmosphere and emotion with gameplay that just feels all too familiar despite notable improvements. There is value to be had with NCAA Football 13 – particularly for those who took advantage of it at the $45 price point – but consumers should demand more than just adequacy going forward.

  • What about the fact that in road to glory, you can’t strafe because its the same button as reaction time.

    • You know there is only soo much to say and too many issues with the game. LMAO

    • Mike Stanley

      My main complaint. Auto-strafe is broken and the ability to strafe as a DB is crucial to being able to make a play. Not to mention one of my season goals is “Get 10 sacks”. I’m a safety you jackass!

  • Keith.

    Still no mention of the freezing that’s been reported all over?

    • ‘Noles4Life

      Oddly enough I’ve never experienced freezing.

      I’ve had lag after the snap when dropping back, but nothing that took away from the play or caused me to make a bg mistake.

    • Scottyo614

      Also never bad a game freeze. Crossing my fingers, knocking on wood. Don’t use auto save at all.

    • gy3

      Also the players sliding all over the place during replays. This is the second copy and its still doing it! Smh!

  • VA757


    • Fitzman

      I’ve worked at coffee joints before and GROWN men complain about coffee that costs no more than 5 dollars and will only be drunk once… people complain all the time its a coping mechanism, if something we pay 45+ (in the past 60 dollars) for and we use it multiple times not to mention is the only thing on the market that has college football, as consumers we have every right to complain or vent if we need to mr. “manly man”…IF i DIDNT LIKE THE COMMENTS I WOULDNT READ THEM…SIMPLE!!!

      • Christopher5


      • Chrsn

        I shudder to think how coffee can be drunk more than once

    • eagleyedesigns

      You’re posting on here just like every one else…And you’re “A GROWN MAN”. Video games are for children, huh?

    • Michael Savage

      Since real grown men buy video games, I guess you just don’t complain about anything that a has a price on it, no matter how trivial? Are you a real grown man, or a just wannabe grown man with no fucking balls? I bet you get sand kicked in your face at that beach, and your best friend is probably doing your wife. You pussy.

  • Ben Conrad

    No mention of the game freezing on load screens? I had to end up simulating a game this year in dynasty because I could not get the game to load. I attempted at least 8-9 times over a 2 day period.

    • You need to get the game to trigger another auto-save. Go into your recruiting board and just move a guy up or down a spot. That should do it. Then the game should load fine. That’s the work around that’s been reported.

  • Beast780

    Ben Conrad hit the nail on the head, I can’t progress past week 3 in my dynasty because the game is broken.

    • ‘Noles4Life

      LOL, That’s strange. PS3 or 360?

      I’ve had 3 dynasties.. One with Hawaii, FSU and then one with Texas State, nothing has happened that messed my game up. Like I told the guy above you, I’ve had lag after the snap but nothing major.

      • eagleyedesigns

        I’ve had the same fucking crap happen to me…Pulled it out of the XBOX, and went right back to Family Video…”Here ya go, it’s broke, can I have my $3.00 back please?”

    • You need to go change something in your recruiting area to trigger another autosave. Once you trigger another save point, it’ll proceed.

  • Alex22406

    I love the Cardinal picture Go UofL!!!!

  • Guest

    Let me just say that I’m a gameplay guy 1st & foremost. All the other modes are irrelevant if the gameplay is lacking however ironically enough I don’t have a problem with the gameplay this year. It’s all the litte details that are still missing in the game that makes it feel boring to me. The presenation needs a major overhall next year to go along with the physics engine. I just don’t feel immersed when I play this game. They added studio updates but no highlights from other games ala 2K5. Maybe if we hag different gameplay camera angles (custom camera) Idk can’t put my finger on one thing but the game just feels stale. Adding chaingangs & better sidelines would be a start.

  • eagleyedesigns

    “…Many perceived NCAA to be the testing ground for Madden…” Yeah, funny, we’re the testing ground for NCAA. It is a complete fucking scam that most of the community has to spend $65 to test a fucking game. THEY SHOULD BE GIVING IT AWAY! FUCKING GARBAGE!

    • MackSwagger

      LOL You don’t have to do anything genius.

  • The Walk On 777

    Thanks Pasta, for putting Ohio University on the front!

  • Bob

    I always change the difficulty to easy when Im doing practice mode in Road to Glory other wise you spend the whole season as the 3 or 4th string.

  • MackSwagger

    Pasta should change the name of his site to because all he does is cater to you whiny dopes who complain about everything EA does. I bet if you forgot to wipe after #2 you’d blame EA for that too. Nobody’s perfect and if you really want atmosphere go to a game live. No videgame ever not even 2K can make it that great.

    • Always funny to have people argue I’m both pro and anti each company. This is how I know I’m doing things right!

      And as to atmosphere see NBA Live 10 as an example of how to deliver in that area.

      • MackSwagger

        Are you sure about that?

        • dawgs34

          MackSwagger, why not change your
          nickname to “Im a bitchy EAfanboy”. I bet you also never question anything and
          only look at one side of an argument. No one is saying EA is perfect here but
          they clearly did NOT meet expectations, but because you always assume that
          every product ever made placed 100% of their actual effort into it you just
          accept everything as is. I take it you also don’t believe in competition or a
          free-market. If everyone was like you then computers would still take up the
          size of a room, because you have never raised the bar! If you ever took the time to read any other article on this website you’d realize that there are mixed reviews regarding EA.

          • MackSwagger

            I don’t agree with everything they do. I just find it funny how everything they do is met with so much negativity. Competition breeds excellence and I’m fully aware of that. The NFL and NCAA offered their licenses and they’re just as much at fault as EA. Nothing wrong with free market either. I just feel that these days Pasta does nothing but cater to the masses to keep people happy. NCAA 13 met my expectations and that’s because I knew what I was getting and that’s the way you have to fight for recruits now and I think the CPU fights a little harder. Sometimes I do get pissed at the way things play out in NCAA 13 but overall I’m satisfied. If I thought they placed 100% in everything they did Madden 08 for 360 would be the GOAT which its not. In my own personal review I gave that game a 3.5.

  • Confusedas

    i was playing as a 6-6 240 pound balanced qb on road to glory, heisman difficulty. Even though i was a five star athlete and slated to be a 2nd string qb, in the first game my qb reicieved playing time thanks to a blowout. i happened to throw an interception in my only play and got like -100 coach trust. the next week i was third string. it seemed like i had to have perfect practices without an incompletion to even challenge for the next spot! i finally was able to become the starter (by then i had a 98 ovr) in the freaking bowl game! ironically even though i threw 4 touchdowns, 1 interception put me back in the negative! the next season, somehow my player was a 4th string DE with a 60 for just about every stat, but only can gain exp for a qb….wtf!

  • def

    Glad I still have my $65

    • V3NOM908

      me too my friend me too

    • kbomb1upc

      Amazon pre order was $45. This game is not wroth $65 but its not bad at $45.

      • def

        OK, but I’m not going to preorder a sketchy game.

  • willhop1984

    I dont like that we can no longer import the draft classes to madden thats one of the main reasons I buy NCAA every year.

    • The riddler

      I’m with you on that one. I really don’t want this game anymore since I can’t ok mport draft classes.

  • rose

    Zoom in to a replay and watch the player disappear while the ball remains.

  • Sniper

    How can the folks at EA attend a Michigan-Notre Dame game and STILL get the crowd excitement and atmosphere in the game wrong? I’m starting to think the devs at EA are nothing more than a bunch of fucking retards!

  • MoneyMayweather

    Pasta just keeps bashing NCAA 13.

    • pl02pl

      I can’t imagine how you could defend this game or even series for that matter at this point.

  • paulbrownsrevenge

    Somehow the 2bar RevSpeed facemask was left out after being in Madden12. Amazing.

    List of QB’S who wear 2bar RevSpeed Facemask. (85) 31/123 teams starters.
    Matt Barkley- USC *
    Braxton Miller- tOSU*
    Logan Thomas- Va Tech*
    E.J. Manuel- Florida State*
    Landry Jones- Oklahoma*
    Connor Shaw- South Carolina*
    Taylor Martinez- Nebraska*
    Collin Klein- Kansas State*
    James Franklin- Mizzou*
    Jeff Driskel- Florida*
    Jacoby Brissett- Florida
    Kiehl Frazier- Auburn*
    Clint Moseley- Auburn
    Bo Wallace- Ole Miss*
    Barry Brunetti- Ole Miss
    Brett Hundley- UCLA
    Taylor Kelly- Arizona State
    Mike Bercovici- Arizona State
    Jordan Wynn- Utah*
    Andrew Maxwell- Mich State*
    James Vandenberg- Iowa*
    Jared Barnett- Iowa State*
    Steele Jantz- Iowa State
    C.J. Brown- Maryland*
    Chandler Whitmer- UConn*
    Bryn Renner- North Carolina*
    Marquise Williams- North Carolina
    Caleb Pressley- North Carolina
    Tahj Boyd- Clemson*
    Tino Sunseri- Pitt*
    Trey Miller- Navy*
    Teddy Bridgewater- Louisville*
    Will Stein- Louisville
    Luke Brohm- Louisville
    Tyler Tettleton- Ohio*
    Robert Marve- Purdue
    Rob Henry- Purdue
    Cameron Coffman- Indiana
    Max Shortell- Minnesota
    Ryan Williams- Miami
    Preston Dewey- Miami
    Michael Rocco- Virginia*
    Jeff Tuel- Wazzu*
    Dayne Crist- Kansas*
    Grant Hedrick- Boise State
    Alex Gillett- Eastern Michigan*
    Joe Licata- Buffalo*
    Ryan Alpin- Ark State*
    CJ Bennett- South Alabama*
    Stephen Rivers- LSU
    Jerrard Randall- LSU
    Brion Carnes- Nebraska
    Philip Sims- Virginia
    David Watford- Virginia
    Greyson Lambert- Virginia
    Mark Leal- Va Tech
    John Schrock- Colorado
    Connor Halliday- Wazzu
    Zach Kline- California
    Mark Myers- Pitt
    Casey Cochran- UConn
    Mike Nebrich- UConn
    Jon Budmayr- Wisconsin
    Reilly O’Toole- Illinois
    Brion Carnes- Nebraska
    Russell Bellomy- Michigan
    Kenny Guiton- tOSU
    Gary Crow- Miami
    Jacob Coker- Florida State
    Ross Metheny- South Alabama
    Trey Fetner- South Alabama
    David Fisher- Kent State
    Austin Gearing- Miami(oh)
    Tyler Van Tubbergen- Western Mich
    Jay Hall- UTEP
    Austin Brown- UAB
    Blake Frohnapfel- Marshall
    Jon Hays- Utah
    Sam Richardson- Iowa State
    Max Wittek- USC
    Emon Saee- USC
    John Manoogian- USC
    Seth Strickland- South Carolina
    Andrew Clifford- South Carolina
    Tanner McEvoy- South Carolina

    * denotes starter

    Other Skill players who wear the same mask (85)
    TE Jake Stoneburner- tOSU
    TE Brandon Ford- Clemson
    TE Mike Ragone- Kansas
    TE Sam Grant- Oklahoma
    TE Junior Pomee- USC
    WR Tavon Austin- WV
    WR Marquis Lee- USC
    RB Rex Burkhead- Nebraska
    RB Ray Graham- Pitt
    RB Cierre Wood- Notre Dame
    HB Trey Burton- Florida
    RB James Wilder Jr- Florida State
    RB Eduardo Clements- Miami
    RB Akeem Shavers- Purdue
    RB Donnell Kirkwood- Minnesota
    RB Danzel Williams- Oklahoma
    RB Dominique Brown- Louisville
    RB Devondrick Nealy- Iowa State
    RB Melvin Gordon- Wisconsin
    WR Eric Ward- Texas Tech
    WR Eli Rogers- Louisville
    LB Mike Taylor- Wisconsin
    LB Sean Fisher- Nebraska
    LB Will Compton- Nebraska
    DB Lamarcus Joyner- Florida State
    DB Durrell Givens- Iowa State
    DB Corey Cooper- Nebraska
    DB PJ Smith- Nebraska
    DB Andrew Green- Nebraska
    DB Mohammad Seisay- Nebraska
    DB Josh Mitchell- Nebraska
    WR Brandon Coleman- Rutgers
    WR Jordan Matthews- Vandy
    WR Bennie Fowler- Mich State
    WR Tony Lippett- Mich State
    WR Juwan Caesar- Mich State
    WR Dana Dixon- Mich State
    WR Keith Mumphery- Mich State
    WR Andre Sims Jr.- Mich State
    WR Spencer Elliott- Mich State
    WR John Jakubik- Mich State
    WR Tim Marlowe- Nebraska
    WR Kenny Shaw- Florida State
    WR Andre Dubose- Florida
    WR Frankie Hammond- Florida
    WR Quinton Dunbar- Florida
    WR Latroy Pittman- Florida
    WR Michael Thomas- tOSU
    WR James Wright- LSU
    WR Chris Fields- tOSU
    WR Kameel Jackson- Oklahoma
    WR Victor Blackwell- USC
    WR Michaelee Harris- Louisville
    WR Garrett Kidd- Miami
    WR Rashawn Scott- Miami
    WR Kendal Thompkins- Miami
    WR Mike Shanahan- Pitt
    WR Chris Harper- Kansas State
    WR Torell Miller- Kansas State
    WR Curry Sexton- Kansas State
    WR Daruis Jennings- Virginia
    WR Tommie Thomas- Purdue
    WR DJ Coles- Va Tech
    WR Regis Whittington- Maryland
    WR Patrick Laird- Army
    WR Matt Aiken- Navy
    WR Jerome Tiller- Iowa State
    WR Chris Young- Iowa State
    WR Marcus Kennard- Texas Tech
    WR Tyson Williams- Texas Tech
    WR Taariq Allen- Nebraska
    WR Richard Mullaney- Oregon State
    WR Mitch Singler- Oregon State
    WR Richard Morrison- Arizona
    K Alejandro Maldonado- Oregon
    K Drew Basil- tOSU
    K Mike Meyer- Iowa
    P Brad Wing- LSU
    P Cody Webster- Purdue
    K Coleman Peterson- Utah
    P Sean Sellwood- Utah
    P Zach Grossnickle- Colorado
    K Justin Castor- Colorado
    P Ryan Erxleben- Texas Tech
    P Kyle Dugandzic- Arizona
    P Dalton Botts- MiamiThis list isn’t close to complete.

  • WTF is wrong with running the option against the CPU. MF keep reading the play even after the play is over for both user and cpu, sense ncaa 11.

  • Brandon Gibson

    I could go on for days about how bad this game is. i fall asleep playing it sometimes. I’m glad my 360 is modded so I only paid $10 for the game.

  • daveycrockett

    seriously. I hate the gray slow mo junk