The time for college football has finally come. You can see right away that EA means business with this year’s college football outing with a pumped up Tim Tebow as the cover athlete of NCAA Football 11. The series that is often a few steps behind its big brother Madden series once again tries to fill the big shoes laid out before it while still staying true to the college game. How does this years outing fair?
Without wasting any time let’s just jump into some of the bigger areas where there are differences between this years game and the last. First off the animation system in NCAA Football 11 is vastly improved over past versions. One of the first things I noticed right out of the gate was the sideline grabs where you literally have inches from being out of bounds and make some pretty spectacular catches. There is also a heavier emphasis on tackling and movement in this game which is part of the new locomotion system. I must say that although it may sound like a bullet point on a press release the new system actually does help make the game feel a lot fresher then in years past.
The other element which really has needed to be fixed for years is the new no huddle feature which allows you to pick a play quickly while your team runs up to the line. This provides an extra level of realism and lessens the headaches that often happened in past games when it came to trying to run a successful two minute drill with no time outs.
The one area that EA really tries to push in this game is the different play schemes. It is apparent even more so when you look at the achievements that are delegated to the game as nearly half are allotted to rewarding you for playing with different schemes. All in all I think the concept is there however the execution not so much. You will end up calling plays and playing the game the way you prefer to play regardless of the scheme. The only difference is that the playbooks and skillsets of each time are aligned well to the scheme so it can be tougher to go against the grain.
Mode wise this is still a very feature rich football experience. I was sad to see that the Road to Glory mode has gone relatively unchanged. I thought last year was a good first outing but there was still a lot of room for improvement. The franchise mode has some deeper elements around recruiting which as any college football fan knows is 80% of the magic of what makes a great college team. Online play is still very deep and although for the average user it may be too much it still manages to be a great for the hardcore college football fans.
To me modes are great but the play on the field is really what matters and that is really where I think this game takes huge strides forward. There are still some areas that I think need improvement (commentary and road to glory mode) but all in all this is one of the most enjoyable college football experiences I have played in quite some time. The Gameplay has taken some serious steps in the right direction that we haven’t seen in quite some time.
Visually there are some nice touches at the start of the game to kind of get you in the college football mindset but I still think there isn’t enough of the college atmosphere. To me what stands out about college football is the dedication of the alumni/fans that really gather around their teams. Although they have done good work in years past to improve the atmosphere of the stadiums recognizing some of the toughest areas to play but there are still some areas which need to keep going. Animation is a big improvement in this year’s game and that is quite apparent in this game.
I have always loved the college football game and this year I really feel like the developers have managed to translate the college game better then they have before. The new animation scheme coupled with the ability to play a no huddle offense to a greater extent then ever before is quite an accomplishment for this series.
EA has taken some heat on both of their football titles for not pushing the envelope far enough on their series, but I think this year there isn’t a lot of room to complain. NCAA Football 11 is a great game of football, it has some shortcomings, but those are overshadowed by an all around excellent football game that I found to be one of the best the series has put out on this generation of consoles.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.