Whether your favorite team is a powerhouse like Alabama or a scrappy underdog like Northeast Wyoming Automotive and Dental Sciences Institute, everyone wants to see their alma mater achieve glory on the gridiron. Those who want to take that desire a step further are probably the ones most interested in NCAA Football's Dynasty mode, which lets you take control of your team and dictate its fate for years into the future through a number of strategic choices. As they do with every iteration of the game, the folks at EA Tiburon are making a number of changes and tweaks to this mode for 2011. Here are some of the more interesting changes in store for this year's installment:
To help keep pace with the wild world of conference shuffling happening in the NCAA this year, EA has decided to give you full control of every conference in college football. You can play it conservative and simply bump up your favorite midlevel school to a bigger conference, make a few swaps between teams here and there, or simply decide to pull a Notre Dame and make your college an independent. Or you can do the opposite and pretend to be a wildly drunken NCAA president, putting only Florida schools in the Mountain West, moving Oregon to the ACC, or setting Auburn's top rival as the Portland State Vikings so that they play each other every year without fail. The only thing you really can't do is rename conferences or change their logos.
Another addition this year (or at least a return of an old feature in expanded form) is custom playbooks for your chosen team dynasty. You'll be able to start with a base playbook and then just mix and match whatever you want from any old playbook for a total of up to 350 or so plays. Beyond that you can also customize how the plays are organized when you select a formation during the game. It's a simple drag-and-drop tile system that lets you shuffle around plays at will, letting you stack all your running plays at the top, banish a particular receiver to the bottom of the playbook, or what have you.
This year's Dynasty mode includes a sort of sub-mode for those who want to control the nitty-gritty of their coach. The customization begins with a fairly silly level of detail, right on down to your coach's chosen style of shirt, be it sweatshirt, polo, or suit jacket. Each coach in this mode is expected to live up to the terms of the particular contract, with a prestige ranking that determines their job security. They're even assigned alma maters to determine which schools they're likely to jump ship to if a spot opens up. It's a pretty impressive level of control over your dynasty and something that's probably going to appeal only to a fraction of the NCAA players, but it's an interesting feature nonetheless.
This year, EA is giving you the chance to take your dynasty online in an entirely different way. Besides just managing your dynasty through the game itself, you can do a fairly extensive amount of management through a Web browser. Things like weekly recruiting tasks, roster viewing, and schedule viewing can all be done online for free. But you will have to shell out a few bucks for more active control of your team through the Web browser; for instance, controlling games through the browser using full playbook support costs $2.99 (240 Microsoft points).
NCAA Football 12 will be released this July for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Be sure to read our previous coverage for more details.