Kinda depressing that EA has almost no incentive to ever actually make the game better. I still play NCAA 05 and they have levitating linebackers that intercept anything and it apparently still hasn't been fixed 9 years later. EA has side-stepped capitalism and they just have a monopoly on this which means in the future we'll all be reviewing NCAA 2024 and complaining about the levitating linebackers and how EA charges you 20 Euros everytime you force Al Borges to call a bubble screen
NCAA Football 14: An ePinion
Dilemma: The HTTV proofs were delivered at the same time as the game.
First a confession: the last time I bought EA's college football game was 10 (the 2009 season) for PS2. I used to get it every year from the Woodson cover to the Desmond cover and play until it was taking more time than I could excuse because an exercise bike was involved. The exception was '05, which I played for four days before going back to 2004, still the gold standard of the series.
The versions I had were all great for power runs to set up bombs but in the summer of 2009 I was mostly interested in wrecking offensive rushing records with Rich Rod's offense. Like anybody with a touch of ASD, I cannot play until I've filled in and fiddled around with Michigan's rosters. Tate Forcier was like an 80 overall when I was done. Denard was probably set to move to cornerback—remember this was the 2009 offseason, when old men in conference hotels were dancing to Weapon of Choice:
Then I started playing and videogame Forcier would throw 8 interceptions per game because linebackers could leap 100 feet in the air. There was no such thing as an incomplete pass; you threw screens or you threw interceptions. It took just three games for my frustration to turn me off from the series and turn me into one of those people who delights in The Consumerist ripping on EA. Other than goofing around on my 2004 dynasty NCAA the game was dead to me.
Then they put Denard on the cover (and the wife let me get a PS3 once I proved how awesome it is at Netflix). And since I'd moved on from guy at convention hotels to guy who works for a college football blog, it turned out I could get an advance copy of the thing with Denard on the cover in return for telling people how I felt about it. A part of me finds it ridiculous that I can get away with this. Since I've been out of things for awhile (and Misopogal has grown skeptical over all this "work" I've been putting in) I'm gonna deliver the game to Ace after I post this, and next week you'll get a review from someone with a frame of reference within the current console generation. Here's the things you should know now:
1. IT HAS DENARD ON THE COVER. Truly it is the most beautiful thing to grace a cover since...NCAA 06? NCAA 99? A baby swimming toward a dollar on the album where music got its balls back? If Denard was smiling maybe.
I adore all of you!
He is actually the most appropriate cover athlete for a version of this game since they put Ricky Williams on the one with unstoppable running backs because…
2. OPTION OFFENSE is awesome. They completely redid that and now read options work the way they're supposed to. EA also gave the defense its option-crushing corner blitzes and scrape exchanges.
I keep forgetting to sub Green in at FB
However the counter to the counter sucks. They put bubble and PA split end screens in the playbook, but the defense reads these way too quickly on any difficulty worth playing. Also I've found my skill position guys tire so fast that when I go to it I keep getting Jeremy Jackson. Anyway the option stuff is the most fun, specifically the read and triple options. Too bad Michigan went back to the future on offense since...
[after the jump]
3. FORGET ABOUT PASSING. Unless you turn interceptions off. Apparently the guy who was supposed to fix this since NCAA '08 is still in his office slamming his head against various objects (Nobody says anything because this is the same way he came up with the idea of John Madden as a franchise title). In '14 it's no longer because of middle linebackers from Krypton. Now it's super safeties and cornerbacks who stop animating and just slide 25 yards. The thing that gets me most often: all the routes are covered, I scramble around, the 2nd level comes up to stop me from a Terrelle Pryor-like scamper, and I try to sling it over their heads to the now-open guy—this always results in those guys intercepting it or at least knocking it down with an interception animation. Until I turned INTs down to 10 I was yet to have a game with more incompletions than interceptions. The thing that does work—quite consistently—is a four-verts seam to your slot or tight end that you lead inside. Of course they'd make the "Roundtree" route the only good one because as I remind you...
4. IT HAS DENARD ON THE COVER. Denard ROBINSON. Not that you really need him since…
5. DEFENSE IS PRETTY TERRIBLE. Especially when you play it, when your pass defense is completely theoretical, and you'll probably lose a few controllers to not ever being able to tackle in space even if you're controlling Jake Ryan and the computer is controlling my wife. It's weird that the controls are so responsive on offense then on certain modes you're almost locked out entirely.
The worst of this I've found is if you're controlling the running back on a screen play—you'll run into the OL and fall down and your QB will throw incomplete. This pretty much killed the Road to Glory mode (you'll note they've removed it from their marketing this year), which I tried with Green.
Anyhoo: defense. It sucks. Ace thought I was just way out of practice, but I think it's just more of a controls issue; I nearly just gave up on the game and thought about writing a rotten tomato review because I got so sick of getting torched by Purdue and am too proud to play on Freshman mode (at least you can set the difficulty differently for either side of the ball). Fortunately...
6. YOU CAN BE JUST THE OC AND SKIP THE OTHER PARTS. I did this.
And after getting past the bugginess (don't touch buttons while it's simming or you'll crash the game on PS3) it's not a terrible way to play. The problem is as bad as I was on defense, the computer is actually WORSE at this. Literally 80% of opponent drives are long touchdowns, usually consisting of 4 or 5 long plays. Apparently they can pass over the top, something you can never ever do. That's why I...
7. CREATED A CUSTOM PLAYBOOK. Gone are all the things that Borges loves, which is bombs and bombing and launching bombs and long bombs and Bob-Bombs and bomb bombidy bombadil bombs. In: the Pistol, specifically every option play in the Pistol, and every triple option play in the database so I can have my fullback back in the game. This is very important for...
8. EA FINALLY DISCOVERED PHYSICS. As in they remade the game engine so big running backs bounce off corners and if Jadaveon Clowney impacts a 5'7/160 scatback from Pahokee people start losing dreds. More importantly lineman blocking works like it does in physics, e.g. linebackers don't suddenly change direction in the middle of pursuit so they can lock arms with a tackle. On regular running plays a lot of times I get tackled by a falling defensive end who stumbled into my path after a good shove from the outside blocker—this is both refreshing and frustrating. I forgot what their special corporate name for this engine is—I'm sure they were really excited about it internally because they throw it at you a lot in the game, but fortunately this has not made an impression on my brain, which I have been instead filling with large running backs and fullbacks and fullbackian Jewish Iowa running backs and very large quarterbacks going head-first into defensive backs, which makes a crushing sound not unlike...
9. ANGRY IOWA RUNNING BACK HATING GOD. Who is not in this game. Neither are Penn State's sanctions, though PSU keeps getting slaughtered in sim games. But the single greatest oversight in re: reality sim is there's no playoff option. You can change conferences around every year, split them into divisions you name, and decide if there's to be November night games or non-Saturday football, protected rivalries (you pick them), and which conf champions get automatic BCS bids, but you can't get rid of the dag-nam BCS. You also can't change the number of conference games, which bugged me. They did have at least next year's scheduled non-conf games—that was a nice touch. I had some fun with conference realignment (click=largetation):
They don't give you enough character spaces to name a division "Schembechler"
I also tried starting a new franchise with Ohio State just to see if you can offer extra benefits to recruits—500 points for a Corvette, 250 points for a Lincoln. That part of the game is not in the game, but…
10. RECRUITING IS COMPLETELY REDONE. As with the latest versions (I'm told) it happens all year, which is kind of annoying I've found since you have to spend 20 minutes between games doing your crutin when you just want to get back to optioning fools. The big change is it's all points now instead of deploying your assistant's phone or trying to guess if this synthetic character wants to talk about how Ann Arbor is so darn close to Middlequidistantmezzocenterville, Ohio. The kids are upfront about what matters to them, and you'll get X amount of bonus points each week based on how well you fit that.
Crutin' also be hard. You have to identify just 35 guys you want at the beginning and then you end up in long battles of full-bore pressure against Oklahoma State for that one tight end. You're supposed to get an advantage in this as you…
11. LEVEL UP YOUR COACH LIKE A WARCRAFT CHARACTER. You get experience points for doing things and level up a tree. This was like half of the booklet they gave me for reviewing the thing but I was pretty underwhelmed by it—as an O.C. you just get to make your offense more cheap and as a head coach there's just too much good stuff you want—it might be better to just have these be static coach attributes. As it is it's just annoying that they made Michigan's D.C. a crappy dude who doesn't affect recruiting. I grew up on enough Final Fantasy titles to be a sucker for leveling but here it's just too much stuff and not enough thought put into it. Which can be said more about…
12. THE SINGLE MOST ANNOYING THING IN A VIDEOGAME EVER. Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I believe videogames that cost over $50 on their own should refrain from trying to airline you as well. I also believe the sun and the moon are powerful gods and we should fear them. Maybe this is the way of the world now. But this disgusted me:
They hit you up with this at several junctures in a franchise: when you're trying to finish off your class, when you're trying to keep your underclassmen from bolting to the NFL or other schools, and here right before player training. You don't want digital Devin Gardner to leave, do you? With this limited time offer we can talk to fake Gardner for you—have your credit card handy. As far as I could tell it was $24 subscription to some sort of service that will update your game and a package of some of these things, but then they nickel and dime you on top of that if you want your offensive linemen to grow up big and strong (pro tip: they will anyway). I didn't investigate enough to figure out how deep the money pit goes. I'm all for this capitalism stuff—as good as feudalism has been for college football—but somebody tell me I'm not insane for thinking this is uber cynical, even for EA* and the NCAA. But then, like the league you should have lost all respect for, you still gotta go because…
13. IT'S A COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME, which is just about the best thing you can sim and avoid a parental warning. I mean you could buy Madden instead but the Lions are going to be terrible this year and the nerds who keep modding Madden '08 on the computer have done a better job than EA of updating the title. Meanwhile, perhaps because they're going to have competition again soon, they've finally made a dramatic upgrade to the engine of this game. Like remember last year when the marketing was all "hey you get to put Desmond Howard on the Buckeyes—whaddaya think of that?" This year it's not a gimmick like "play a game of mascots" or "make Kevin Grady a Heisman"—the upgrades were in differentiating coaches from each other, making recruiting feel more like recruiting, and making the game play more like college football than a very advanced arcade. Plus…
14. IT'S GOT DENARD ON THE COVER. eeeeee. Anyway it's not without major flaws—some of which you can tweak with extreme sliders—but if you only care about dynasty mode, don't mind the BCS, and you're looking for a sim of the thrill you experienced watching Michigan's nascent 2009 offense shredding Michigan's 2009 defense, you're gonna fall for this in a big way.
*Who very nicely gave us a free copy of this game.
Thoughts on Rostering: Don't start your dynasty until you give Devin and Countess redshirts. Also the starting interior line is something like Bryant-Miller-Buryzinski and Joe Reynolds is the top receiver after Gallon while Darboh and Chesson were below Jackson (you'll want to fix all those guys). While you're at it upgrade Green and Toussaint (they made him terrible) and downgrade Rawls as you see fit. Teambuilder won't let you name a guy "Jake Butt" but I had no problem in the game. Players progress a good +5 or so per year in dynasty so don't go making Bosch a 78 or something. I had to create Tuley-Tillman and Houma, move Norfleet back to RB, and changed several dudes I figured I won't use (M-Rob, Ringer, Burzynski, Gunderson, Mike Jones) into Glasgow and important RS freshman linemen. Also the real moves: Morgan to MLB and Beyer to LOLB. Raymon Taylor is overrated, Countess severely underrated.
Tips/thoughts/asides/errata: Game is slow and a bit unstable on a 160GB PS3—maybe Xbox is smoother? Still really annoying that you can't double-up numbers in player editor—how long has this complaint been around? Future version ought to have an app to port recruiting to your phone so you can use your TV time for football. It also should develop practices—they tried this in previous versions but got it wrong and gave up; I think they just need to have you develop a package per game. I seem to spend a lot of the game watching cutscenes, even on fast mode. They are good cutscenes, except Devin likes to shoulder his teammates a lot.
not completely true. They can't have an exclusive license anymore so somebody will make a competitive sim. I'm reasonably sure EA will gear up to fight a lot of little battles saying they were copied when another game makes a dynasty mode or includes recruiting. Anyway I imagine this is an incredibly expensive game to make and since EA has had a monopoly I don't know if anybody has an engine they won't have to scrap and rebuild from scratch. Let's hope someone tries, and that they make a computer game. The reason Madden isn't the best sports sim in the world is because Sony and 2K jumped into the baseball arena, beat EA, and now we have MLB: The Show.
Yeah, the big problem is while nothing EA does is particulary good (well the graphics are nicely polished), it's 10s of millions of dollars to get the features that EA has. I keep hoping some indie studio will just release a football game featuring entirely fictional teams and then slowly refine it until their sales let them buy the NCAA license, but it likely means years of playing something that looks like Minecraft.
it can be done, 2k sports had a very nice sim for 20 bucks, and it was better than maddan in almost everyway back in the xbox days. EA didn't want to compete so they just gave the NFL a wad of cash to take care of the problem of having to compete.
Capitalism at its best
Actually, the NFL were the ones who wanted the exclusive license, and they approached a number of different companies. EA were the ones who were willing to offer them what was asked for.
Can't wait to pick it up on my Birthday on Tuesday! Woot Woot!
Madden 2008, the last Madden made for PC is where it is all at. Get one of the CD Free ways to play it (copy your disc and store it as an ISO), stick it on your laptop, and you have the perfect game for when you need to kill some time in a waiting room. Plus with the keyboard it is much easier to edit the Lions to be the All Michigan Dream team and embark upon a reign of terror in the NFC North. Sadly the last NCAA Football for PC was 1997 or so, urgh. So I'm one of those Madden nerds.
For defense in NCAA 2012 I eventually regulated myself to taking control of Will Campbell and just mashing the bullrush button or switching the game into the mode where I only call the players. If you leave your own LBs to the AI, you get the super LB interception thing as well.
Regarding the PS3 vs XBox comment, my NCAA 2012 had a whole series of buggy crashes at loading scenes, my friends with XBoxs reported fewer loading screen crashes, but said they had a lot of crashes in player creation modes. I think it is buggy no matter what platform you're on.
Madden 08 is where it's at. In addition to nerd-modding, there are some pretty solid playbooks out there despite the ancient engine and limited animations.
Can't wait to get this; I'm in an ESPN online dynasty and one from here and even though I couldn't grab Michigan in either dynasty, I got the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the game, respectively.
I bet you can gather who I am in the ESPN dynasty...
I haven't played it since 2009 or 2010 and the thing I really liked about the demo for 2014 was the no-huddle. I could not do anything on offense with Alabama against VT but then I went no huddle and it opened everything up. Same thing with Oregon - I sucked when waiting to get to the play menu, but holding Y brought up enough options that I could usually find a mismatch.
Hmm...I only played the Demo on PS3 and didn't really have a lot of trouble on D. Love the revamped option game, though I will say the power game is slightly more difficult then I remember. The passing is about the same as well. Gotta lead the receivers and throw them open sometimes.
On D clearly trying to tackle Miller/Hyde will be tough and I do think the AI for computer passing is a little to high but that can be adjusted. Seemed like the super LB's were gone but they still seem to have problems with corners being able to cover 2 different routes at once.
I skipped over 13 so I'm not sure if there were any changes to that but that difference between 12 and 14 are rather apparent.
I thought defense was difficult but not impossible. When dealing with a scrambing QB, you will need to play zone or spy on EVERY play otherwise you are screwed. I don't use the game adjustor for scrambing QB's b/c it affects you coverage too adversely. I've probably played against OSU about 25 times in the demo and I'm pretty sure they only scored >10 points on me 3-4 times (I only play on Heisman for offense & defense).
I'm always frustrated by these reviews because for a game to be competititive and challenging it has to be hard at the beginning. I always get a kick out of guys who complain about super linebackers and then you ask them the score of their game and they say they won 63-14. oh. The linebackers were too tough?
I would appreciate the fact that I got intercepted 10 times the 1st time I played a game. This would challenge me to really work on stuff. I play in an online dynasty and the 1st 3-4 years of the Dynasty(about 5 months of actual play) I was terrible at passing and really struggled moving the ball if my option game was bottled up. We just finished up our 11th year and in year 10 I won a Heisman at QB with 40+ passing TD's. Now the passing has become a little too easy and if the new game wasn't coming out I would have proposed moving the sliders for passing. I think this is the sign of a good game not a poor one. I think if Seth was marching up and down the field after not playing for 4 years this game would be in trouble.
Anyone still playing 2005 is a bittmen/hater. All games have problems but it doesn't even compare in gameplay. Last years game was good and this one looks better
I can see where you're coming from, but I do think there's something to be said for wanting the game to be difficult in a realistic way. Throwing ten interceptions the first time you play might be alright if you're just struggling to learn the controls or trying to force throws into coverage. Getting ten picks because a linebacker jumps ten feet in the air or because a corner that is covering a different route ice skates across half the screen at the last moment, that's just plain frustrating whether you're new to the game or a vet.
Those guys that are winning 63-14 have some valid complaints, it's just that they only mention the stuff that hurts them. They never mention all of the weaknesses and AI shortcomings that allow them to win easily in spite of the super LBs. Ideally, EA would do a better job cleaning up the unrealistic stuff that hurts AND benefits the player. Yes, that's a huge challenge and there will always be some things that can't be done perfectly. But having played this series since the early 90's, I can fairly say that some years they have taken huge leaps forward and other years not so much. Call me a hater if you want, but IMO there hasn't been a single installment since moving to PS3/360 that has been leaps and bounds more realistic than the previous version. I really hope that moving to the higher platforms and giving up the monopoly will light a spark for these guys.
I agree that a few years ago the LB's jumping up were ridiculous but it was a band aid to try and stop the ridiculous offenses that were scoring at will. My problem is that people that don't play the game very much still bring that up and that was not the case last year. I think a lot of people that still complain about it are "cheeeser" type players that got by throwing rocket catches to everyone and the super lb's blocked them. They got frustrated and quit.
I have a lot of things I would like to see improved with the game and get frustrated with progress but I just find it hilarious how myopic everyone is. Think of the dilemma EA finds itself in. You are trying to design a game that makes the most people happy so you have the best game and the most sales. Have you ever read a forum board on EA? Some people are upset about facemasks, some can't pass against the computer, some can't run and for every complaint post is a guy who says "I don't see what your problem with the run game is I ran for 3,500yds a game in Heisman mode and averaged 94pts a game". If you play online you can see how big the disparity of skill levels are and trying to design to that disparity is near impossible.
They have legions of people playing 10hrs a day looking for glitches and Money plays. Another segment don't play online and complain about the computer. "The computer sucks i just run verticals all day and win every game". Then how about not allowing yourself to run verticals and challenge yourself?
I like talking about the shortcomings of the game I just get tired of all the EA sucks, they never change anything, this is just a money grab, blah, blah , blah. Then don't buy it and go live your life.
I buy the game every year and play multiple dynasty's. I completely agree. It just takes awhile to get the passing down, you just have to figure out what works and what doesn't.
And there is no Playoff mode yet because this game was made for the upcoming season.
And one DENARD centric thing that you missed Seth is that the Inverted Veer is now in the game! And it works really well.
I'm probably skipping this version, it didn't feel like much of an upgrade from 13, especially the demo. It was like "Look! The crowd cut scenes are different" and "We play Seven Nation Army 1523429349 times at Michigan Stadium! (points for realism)" but playing defense was impossible, and I actually liked playing defense in the last few games.
Stopped buying the yearly release in 2011, and I updated the rosters in that one for this year. Played the demo but it didn't really do much for me. I was hoping it would because I wanted to buy this game again.
Who want counters to the counters is not that big.
And while this is not the only place that complains about it, I for one have liked recruiting. I mean, I agree that it's gotten a bit too complex, but I like the challenge and the winning and losing of getting that recruit you really want that fits your system. In fact, after you've had enough seasons where your team is pretty stacked and losing isn't very likely, the recruiting can become more fun than some of the games.
No playoff is gonna bug me. But I'm excited nonetheless as the demo seemed promising.
I have an 11 year old son so we pretty much get the new version every year and alternate platforms-this year its xbox. Its not a perfect game but I haven't had one of those since the original Metroid. Re: defense. If you're a good recruiter, and I have been, you generally get better athletes (that you redshirt and play upperclassmen) and you can set your defense at cover 2 or variation thereof and you can pretty much play bend don't break until they three and out or turn it over. Its not all I do but its how I start out on defense until I figure out what their strengths are. I suppose I could look at their roster to determine that, but the AI isn't always bright enough to play to the strengths of the players. I play on All-American - I know, I know, a purist would play on Heisman.
As far as recruiting, I try to get one high 4 or 5* in each of the position groups every year. You play a dynasty for 10 years and you have your guys for your style of play.
I was toying with buying this for the 1st time in a few years based on how much fun I had with the demo (play the TAMU v. Oregon game and just switch to whomever has the ball; it's a fucking blast), but the fact that the game doesn't have a playoff starting in 2014 gives me pause. I don't relish the idea of spending another $60 next year just to get the playoff.
You must suck at the game becuase Ive played 4 games so far and I have thrown 0 interceptions. I'm playng on the 2nd hardest as well. Also just a note I feel the 2nd hardest is the most realistic.
man up and play on heisman at least
Much to my wife's satisfaction, I don't play any sports videogames. The last basketball game I played was more than 10 years ago, football was Madden '09 and I sold that back within a week. MLB The Show '12 was great, but no more. I grew frustrated with the physics issues you mentioned and how boring playing the CPU would get in the football games, even when upping the AI to its limit. Do they still have issues with balls magically flying through the hands of DBs for long touchdowns?
Nobody is trying to airline you, the game is 100% functional without that stuff. Paying extra money to cheat the game mechanics isn't nickle and diming you, it's letting people who want to buy something that isn't necessary to the game pay money for something they want to do. If you don't want to do that, don't buy it. You even pointed out that it's not necessary.
You were only disgusted because you're vaguley aware of all the Consumerist nonsense.
Why people would pay for "cheats." Added options, alternative uniforms, that type of jazz, sure. But invulnerability or something? How fast does that get boring?
Why does everyone forget Michigan has 4 cover athletes?
Walter Smith, EA College Football USA 96 on the Genesis.
Not to be "that guy," but I'm pretty sure they've had the points system for recruiting for a little while. And I've always thought it was a bit silly for you, being a coordinator, to be 100% in charge of recruiting every position and player.
Also, (I'm just gonna go ahead and be that guy) this sounds a lot like last years game. Like, nearly identical. Which makes me very sad...
Maybe they had it before, but not last year. I had '11 and I don't remember that one too well, but in '13 you had a set amount of time and called recruits to pitch them on certain aspects of your school, while figuring out if they even cared about that aspect.
Wait; no. Nothing makes me sympathetic to Ed O'Bannon.
From a legal perspective I think this helps the O'Bannon case immensely. EA's contention is that the value of the games is that fans want the teams but don't care so much about the players. As a fan it means a lot to me to play with Devin Gardner an extra year, and part of the value of the game is the opportunity to play as him, and this would be my primary motivation if I was to pay to hold onto him. The retention of individual players being a marketable good implies the player's likeness is the thing EA is selling.
But EA would contend that it's not that fans want to keep "Gardner" an extra year, rather they want to keep that 96-rated (or whatever) senior quarterback instead of having to switch to the 78-rated next-guy-in-line. Which is true.
Any fan of the game could refute that. To claim they are not capitalizing at all on fan sentimental attachment to favorite players at that point would be one of those quotes we end up highlighting to so how silly EA's case is.
Because he's Devin and not because he'll be really good? I mean, if he really had a video game season he'd be gone in rel life, so if it's in the game, it's in the game. After season 1 in regards to sim reality all gets are off to me.
why in hell did they have a cover vote for individual players then. I'm not arguing with you, but if they actually came out and said this, then why do they continue to put individual players on covers rather than a certain schools emblem.
from my phone, and didn't read the above Obanon stuff. Egg on my face... carry on
You forgot the best part of these games. Making yourself a stud after picking a position, and the thrill of wantching a virtual dude in a winged helmet with your name on the back.
I gave up at the "white Jewish Iowa fullbackian bla bla". No mention of the big black Recievers tho while we're at it?
WHAT IS THE THING WITH WIND IN YOUR HAIR ABOUT DENARD AND ELIGIBILITY? THIS ENQUIRING MIND WANTS TO KNOW
Brian's feature on Denard in HTTV
Not being able to talk to recruits in the off-season and convince them to stay is absolutely ridiculous. If someone knows how to do this, without paying, please tell