#7 of 2011: NCAA Football 12

Posted December 24th, 2011 at 9:45 am

When a yearly sports title concentrates more on enhancing gameplay and the existing features rather than introducing big new ones the typical expectation is that it will at the very least be polished and avoid some of the growing pains that befall early-stage innovation. NCAA Football 12 made subtle improvements across the board but despite being theoretically rich in content faltered tragically due to broken and incomplete features and poor communication. 

The ranking of games in the best of 2011 list is based on number of factors including the personal amount of enjoyment had with a particular title, whether advertised features were fully delivered, post-release support, community interaction and communication, overall gameplay experience, feature set, and online play performance. Again this is largely a personal take and one with the advantage of tracking the games beyond just the release frame and does not act as some sort of recap of those with the highest scores on Metacritic. The analysis is weighted heavily towards those high in fun factor while considering them as a whole and compared relatively to the field.

Related: – NCAA 12 causes media outlets to question need to buy sports games on day oneNCAA 12 General Impressions – New features lack necessary follow-throughTendency Bug – Road to Glory Impressions – Online Impressions – Hits and Misses Review

Coming off a largely successful iteration NCAA Football 12 sought to address some legacy issues (such as suction tackling/blocking) and expand the experience and options within Road to Glory and Dynasty modes. To an extent EA Sports achieved what they were going for – more open gameplay providing better realism, control, and balance – but the elements that came up short overshadowed the positives and rightfully so.

It took three weeks for EA to even acknowledge the bevy of serious problems that plagued NCAA 12. The most touted new feature – Custom Playbooks – was literally broken. This was not a case of just being disappointed or frustrated by a feature’s shortcomings rather it literally had to be avoided if one did not want to risk taking penalties and being stuck with no plays to choose from. SuperSim did not calculate time-of-possession properly making coaching as a coordinator far less appealing – the opposite side of the ball would only spend a minute or two of clock even on very long drives. Good luck as a defensive coordinator when 80% of game time is spent on the field while offense could easily rack up stats to reach season-set achievements quickly.

Online Dynasty began with an “advancement queue”, Teambuilder squads were unable to be used, injuries didn’t carry over from week to week, and “transfer failed” errors were all too common. Named rosters were hit with a bug that caused player tendencies to flip – negating the realism that many look for when facing CPU controlled players.

Beyond that are the areas that are better described as being disappointing. While graphically the game was astonishing in replays and screenshots actual gameplay looked far less impressive. The field was undefined with artwork even appearing pixelated while the first patch damaged things even more. The crowd looked horrendous in Road to Glory and a text blur was added to the screens which gave many people a headache while playing Dynasty mode.

The post-play cut scenes on the field were embarrassing, commentary stale, and atmosphere and crowd noise way off. Loading times remain ridiculously long which has been an issue for the series over the years. Custom Playbooks (when functioning properly) were far too intimidating and difficult to set up to one’s liking and Road to Glory as a whole was a big let down.

NCAA 12 did provide some fun gameplay and continued to deliver on a deep Dynasty mode – it’s just a shame that Online Dynasty was so unreliable. General online play was decent.

Had the advertised features been delivered fully functional there is no doubt that the game would have been viewed in a positive light. Even still five months later some of those promises haven’t been fulfilled. There have been four patches but only two were true feedback-related efforts (one was for release day and another to fix a problem that arose from one of the other patches). The first main one took two months and communication from EA relating to the game was the weakest encountered on such a high-profile title in years.

While NCAA Football 12 appeared during development to be a valiant effort that would satisfy the hardcore fans of the series it was so poorly executed that it could go down as one of the bigger failures from EA Sports this generation. Those who could look past, or didn’t care about, the areas that were inflicted by huge problems could easily enjoy the game and maybe even perceive it to have been better than the year prior. Evaluating the title on the whole though makes it one of this year’s most disappointing.

Earlier Year-in-Review Pieces
#7: NCAA Football 12
•#8: NHL 12
•#9: Fight Night Champion
•#10: MLB Bobblehead Pros
•Vote for the Community Choice Awards