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Review

NCAA Football 13 Review

  • Game release: July 10, 2012
  • Reviewed:
  • X360
Aaron Sampson on Google+

NCAA Football 13 offers the same experience as every other version, along with a number of new problems.

by

In real life, sports are a merciless competition in which only the strong survive. Punishment is swift and severe for teams that languish, so there is a constant push to make huge improvements from one season to the next. Virtual sports are very different. The NCAA Football franchise has been lagging for years, shoving the same basic content out the door without any major changes to keep things fresh. Its lack of evolution goes against everything professional sports have been built upon. And NCAA Football 13 continues this unfortunate trend. Although the gridiron action is solid, dull off-field activities and crushing familiarity make this another tired entry in the stuck-in-the-mud franchise.

There is one notable addition to this year's update: Heisman Challenge. Previous winners of the prestigious trophy are included in a spin-off of the Road to Glory mode, giving you a chance to re-create the past successes of some of the most decorated amateurs to ever lace up a pair of cleats. Don't let historical accuracy limit your creativity. If you always imagined Barry Sanders donning the maize and blue of Michigan, you can break the hearts of millions of Oklahoma State fans by shipping him off to Ann Arbor. There is a definite appeal to putting on the helmet of these former greats. Running around as Charlie Ward before he succumbed to the lure of basketball delivers a nostalgic tug to anyone who grew up wishing the Seminoles would just stop doing their Tomahawk Chop for a second.

Despite the appeal of reliving past glories, there are two obvious problems with Heisman Challenge. The first directly affects the on-field action. Each dimming star has access to Reaction Time, a special move that slows down time. Considering that NCAA Football strives to provide an authentic experience, this out-of-place feature clashes with the realism (or attempted realism) present in almost every other area. Granted, the bar allows for only a few seconds of slow motion per play, but it refills quickly, so you can use and abuse it to your heart's content. The second major problem is a victim of the downloadable-content craze. Six of the players require an alternate means to unlock (preorder bonus, through the demo, future DLC), which is downright chintzy in a game sorely lacking new content.

Huh, apparently Duke has a football team. Who knew?

Thankfully, once you move away from the Heisman Challenge and into the more team-focused modes, the action is as good as ever. NCAA Football 13 hasn't changed much from previous iterations, but there are a number of small tweaks to the passing game, which the diligent should appreciate. One problem that has plagued the franchise for years is a receiver's inability to properly navigate the sidelines. The frustration from previous games has finally been minimized. An assortment of new animations and improved artificial intelligence ensure receivers now catch the ball inbounds instead of running off the field, oblivious to rules and regulations. Furthermore, quarterbacks are more accurate than ever. Putting touch on a pass or slinging it to a specific place on the field is much easier now, letting you march down the field through the air with the biggest roadblock being your own skill.

The revamped passing game comes at the expense of a diminished defensive impact. Defenders are often slow to react, especially when playing zone, so they pose little threat for a quarterback who's feeling his oats. Interceptions are still handled extremely poorly. Catching an errant throw is completely random because the stone-handed cornerbacks can't hang on to a ball to save their lives. So when you do come away with an interception, it doesn’t feel like a prize obtained through skill and cunning; rather, it feels as if the computer randomly handed out a gift to keep you invested. This problem has existed in NCAA Football for more than a decade, and it's embarrassing that it has resurfaced in yet another entry. Dropped passes make defense feel unpredictable and arbitrary, draining the satisfaction of a well-executed play.

Dynasty mode also showcases a few improvements offset by the same issues that have hounded the franchise for years. During the interview process, players finally provide reasonable responses to preposterous questions. When you claim that the University of Houston has a better campus than Stanford, they openly laugh at your ridiculous stance. Still, recruits often fall for obvious lies, such as when you claim a middling program is going to win a National Championship, but it's much more difficult to hoodwink players than in years past.

Even with logic finally playing a role in the recruiting process, building a winning program is still a tedious affair. Menus upon menus dominate your time in Dynasty mode. Because you have to stare at dull screens for long spans of time, you would think the menus would be streamlined to make them as easy to use as possible, but the menus in NCAA Football 13 encompass the worst aspects of two opposing design philosophies. Sparse design ensures there's nothing interesting to look at, and yet, even though the exterior lacks pizzazz, the menus are difficult to navigate. Subsequently, recruiting is an impersonal and thankless process that desperately needs a major overhaul.

Menu layout is problematic enough on its own, but when you combine inelegant design with excessive jittering, it becomes downright painful. Moving the cursor and selecting an option, the most basic action you can perform in NCAA Football 13, is hindered by unresponsive controls. Menus leading to more menus are tedious enough to navigate, but when you factor in the load time between each new set of options, it's just a mess. This slowdown is most apparent when selecting teams in two-player local competition. The game moves at a snail's pace. Sputtering also exists once you begin games, though it thankfully doesn't interrupt the action. Instead, the transitions between plays or play-call menus have hitches. It's unforgivable that such drastic oversights exist in an iterative sequel to a yearly franchise.

Witness the thrilling action of scouting!

It's hard to discern online-specific hitches from the offline variety when you take your talents to Xbox Live. Choppy transitions and clunky menus abound, and though it's a little worse when playing online, the difference isn't major. Still, competitive play is where NCAA Football 13 is at its best. Once you get away from the menus and focus on the action, this is still an exciting football game that encompasses the thrill of victory, the pang of defeat, and the fluctuating emotions that keep you hooked during the highs and lows through four hard-fought quarters. Granted, this is an almost identical experience to previous games, but it's still a good time for those who enjoy virtual football.

Looking at the list of changes from one year to the next, NCAA Football 13 offers little new for those who have played a recent entry in the series. The small improvements are welcome for those who have put up with issues for years, but they don't amount to much for casual participants, and many problems still remain. It's a shame there are so few noteworthy changes, because the core gameplay is still well done. But recycling the same content isn't enough to make this worth buying. NCAA Football 13 is another entry in a long-running franchise that desperately needs new ideas.

The Good
Small though welcome improvements
Exciting head-to-head competition
The Bad
Locking away Heisman winners is underhanded
Poorly designed, unresponsive menus
Bland Dynasty mode
Host of problems in desperate need of fixing
6.5
Fair
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109 comments
squirly636
squirly636

Tom Mcshay hates it.......looks like I need to run to gamestop and pick this baby up.

RealitysProof
RealitysProof

I like it ..... Though it could be better, EA just go head and give us a Online Dynasty only version with all the fixins

blajgodofwar
blajgodofwar

i have always been a ncaa and madden fan and i  got them both every year, but i no longer will buy both games anymore. Im a football fan so i didnt mind paying for it every year. now they took away options  that im used to using. big part of the reason is because they took away the import draft class from ncaa to madden. another reason is they replaced create a team with teambuilder where u have to go online which im not a online player (i know they did this several versions ago but i lived with it). these games just arent woth it now and until they bring back some of the old options from madden in the ps2 days..im not buying either anymore

TheKeef
TheKeef

The rate they patched last years game at (never) made me swear off buying this for years to come.

 

Can't wait for their exclusivity agreement to expire, best news ever.

jsand199
jsand199

In any game you MUST compare it to the previous entry. What if Gears of War 2 and 3 had the exact same gameplay maps and spawns? People simply would not buy it. I have been a fan of this franchise for years. But it will always be a game that I buy and play a lot for about 4-6 weeks and then trade in or sell because Madden is always better. TO ME.

 

mwgagent44
mwgagent44

 This guy just doesn't like EA games, Why is it that all other reviews I have read about NCAA 13 is rated at 7.5 or higher and he gives it a 6.5 proves to me that he just doesn't like any EA sports games.

drtbikelvr
drtbikelvr

i honestly dont really have any problems with NCAA13. I think its as fun as ever. It does mirror NCAA12 quite a bit but NCAA 12 was so good there isnt really much of a need to fix it.  I basically just bought NCAA 13 because it was new in hopes that things such as uniforms and things like that would be updated and they really are. And the gameplay is actually quite a bit different in a good way from the previous game. Im personally greatly excited that i bought the game and am in no way dissapointed with it.  

SuperSonnick
SuperSonnick

I haven't purchased this game yet but I think this review is fair. I've loved Madden 2006 along with its NCAA counterpart that year. Gameplay was awesome. I think both these games need an upgrade its been lagging for many years now. The most current 2013 games show promise but still lack in areas. Madden needs to upgrade their rookie combines asap. If you're making your guy go through college and you make it to the draft you should be able to control him, whatever position he plays, in all the associated combines/workouts and what have you. I remember an 1990s madden game that you were able to run the 40, do pass,run drills etc. And that's how you got your overall rating to start out with.

I think most of us feel that our football games have lacked in the true realism for years now. It need to be more in depth and not just thrown together each year.

shmily1992
shmily1992

OK, Lets put this in perspective. I have been playing this game since Bill Walsh College Football in 1993. The game play and graphics have improved, but have always lacked the full authentic feel.

 

The game seemed to get better as the new systems arrived like the PS1, PS2, PS3 and Xbox, but there has been issues I have had with this game over the past 6-7 years.While they may have updated the pre-game features, the game lacks the polish that made it great. I'm not paying $60.00 every year for an updated roster and a few graphic and game play changes.

 

When 2K still made games to compete with EA, if forced them to be creative and push the limits of the game. Now all we get is updated rosters and a shiny backdrop. I long for the day when I had a choice between two games and the creative minds at both companies took pride in producing a product that we have come to love.

CisqoRouter
CisqoRouter

My view is that reviews should be based on the merits of the game being reviewed, not in comparison to other entries in the series.

 

For example, this review assumes that I already own NCAA12 and it's telling me if I should upgrade to NCAA13. What it should be doing is assuming that I've never purchased NCAA Football ever, and telling me if this entry is worth buying or not given that I have nothing to start with.

 

From that perspective, I believe this game is likely closer to a 8-8.5... Based on his review and my playing it. It's not phenominal, but it still really good.

noserag
noserag

Wow, talk about bottoming out, 6.5 maybe there is something true about the number 13.

If Madden 13 takes a similar rating's beating,  I suggest EA take a break from creating number 14.

 

ESPN 2K5 still, the one and only true football experience.

Sparty_On
Sparty_On

EA makes the best football games year in & year out which is fact.

Splincir
Splincir

Not to mention the rampant Dynasty mode freezes that are plaguing everyone.  So frustration that the game ships unplayable until they release a patch. Unacceptable, really.

Talldude80
Talldude80

this is what happens when there is NO competition. Obviously the NCAA and NFL just don't care if a good video game comes out that has their names on it.  EA obviously is ok with putting out the same mediocre football games year after year too...... sad

vchadl
vchadl

One of the few honest reviews of an EA Sports game I've read in years. I agree with pretty much most of it.

TheChosenOne615
TheChosenOne615

ok i agree with some of the  things he  said  but i dont put too much weight into what  critics say. One of the biggest issues ive had with next gen football is the  button response  it doesnt pay to try to play defense because the hit stick and trying to pick the ball off come out  8 years later.

 

This is the same staff that gave one of the  most buggy  games ive ever played game of the  year then turned around and bashed the  DLC for it for the  same issues that were in the  game itself, can i get some consistency please?  That game is skyrim if you dont know

huerito323
huerito323

Madden 13 looks promising this year. Real time physics and the new career mode looks awesome. 

hunter8man
hunter8man

This is the number one reason I got Gamefly. It's the best option for sports games until these companies offer $20 roster updates, with a few patches added, instead of asking gamers to shell out $60 for the same game we've been playing with miniscule updates.

Kabals
Kabals

Here's an idea I hope others adopt that do with games like this...I buy the game every other year. That's right, I played 2006 on the PS2, then graduated to a PS3 where I played 2008, 2010, and 2012.

 

I heard many people complain about the 2012 version, saying how it was the same as 2011. Well, I never played 2011, for two reasons: 1) my reason above, and 2) the dynasty progression bug. But 2012? All I can say is that it is much different than 2010, and I liked it.

 

Many say nothing changes year to year. Trust me, if you adopt my approach and get it every OTHER year, you'll notice PLENTY of changes and enjoy the game that much more.

mont345
mont345

thats why i will buy madden 13, but only for the vita, for some reason its seems there madden plays better on the portables than it does on the home consoles..!!

SoNin360
SoNin360

I would love to see this guy review the next Call of Duty game. I don't mind seeing games being criticized for being too much of the same, and I'm sick of seeing those games score really high.

DaWarthog
DaWarthog

Great review gamspot is the best place for reviews because they keep it real. Too bad of the EA loverboys aka sheep will be upset that they are not lied too and told how good this game is.

gamedragonshi
gamedragonshi

Why would EA take time to fix or change it's formula when the idiot masses still fork out the money each year for the same BS? Easy money.

EmericaCky2K
EmericaCky2K

Tom is a tool. I feel like his reviews are always too harsh and he never has ideas, just complaints. 

 

 

DingKing
DingKing

Tom Mc Shea is a dope and is probably catering to EA Haters.

o016945
o016945

 @mwgagent44 That's your proof? His complaints are also the same as in the other reviews. He just doesn't reward the score as kindly, and I entirely agree with him. The lack of innovations and "mail it in" to me warrants the score, and proves to me that the score is justified. Your proof is comparing reviews, and my proof comes from playing and knowing the game. Sorry, but not everyone accepts this type of treatment. At least your wallet does.

naurglin
naurglin

 @CisqoRouter I actually believe it should do both: telling us if it's worth starting NCAA with that game, and if it's worth upgrading if you already own NCAA 12.

I don't have NCAA 12 (never had a NCAA or any football game actually), and now I'm confused on whether or not purchasing it. Simple solution: gonna look for more reviews on other concurrent sites.

BLaCkxPsYcHox
BLaCkxPsYcHox

@noserag OMG stop it 2k had just as many issues, stop bring a fanboy EA just need competition plain and simple

DaWarthog
DaWarthog

 @Sparty_On If you or anyone on here believe what you saying then you KNOW NOTHING ABOUT FOOTBALL GAMES OR YOU ARE TRULY BRAINWASHED by the EA hype machine.

Sparty_On
Sparty_On

@Talldude80 You're wrong NCAA Football & Madden NFL Football are the best football games year in & year out which is fact and isn't medicore football as you have claim which is a lie.

Sparty_On
Sparty_On

@vchadl EA Sports makes best sports videos games which fact.

DaWarthog
DaWarthog

 @huerito323 L.M.A.O.!!!! How old are 12. That game is still the same if you watched actual gameplay footage. Here comes another recycled label for EA.

Sparty_On
Sparty_On

@hunter8man Wrong it is worth getting NCAA & Madden every year they are the best year in & year out.

Sparty_On
Sparty_On

@DaWarthog You're a sheep all claims are lies and baseless about EA. EA makes the best footballs year in & year out which is fact the truth hurts liar.

DingKing
DingKing

 @DaWarthog And what does this comment make you? I'm not upset at all. I do however think Gamespot's reviews have become a bit too harsh over the years. I remember the Madden 06 review when Alex Navarro said interceptions resulted in negative yardage in the QB stat column. When that was proven to be false it was removed from the review as if he never said it at all. Sometimes people forget these guys are critics and nothing more and if you let them decide what you buy and don't buy you must really have no confidence in what you purchase. We all have the right to do whatever we want with the money we have.

Sparty_On
Sparty_On

@gamedragonshi You're a sheep an idiot & moron that is a liar. EA makes the best football games year in year out which is fact.

Ghosthunter54
Ghosthunter54

 @DaWarthog Technically he's right since EA makes the only football game year in and year out lol. Maybe if they got some competition their football games wouldn't be so much s***.

naurglin
naurglin

 @Sparty_On  @vchadl Facts: EA are the only ones doing football games, and they're far behind 2K when it comes to basketball games.

underoath83
underoath83

 @DaWarthog How different can any game based on a specific sport really be? Seriously people, what? Do you want dragons blasting the stadium randomly? Or how about ninja assassins drop from the sky and decapitate a referee every time he blows a call?

o016945
o016945

 @Sparty_On  @DaWarthog The only fact is...is your idiocy. Also, they don't make footballs...they make football video games. You really should be more clear. Finally, your response here is retarded. They could literally make the worst football game today and it would still be the best...because it's the only football games to be released. You see...in 2005...your comment is blind opinion. A company who feels that they truly had the best football video game, wouldn't have to buyout three licenses to keep others from making football games. That's what companies do when their sales start to decline from the competition. Argue that!

Mariobro38
Mariobro38

 @Sparty_On  

You're pretty funny dude, I see all these comments of yours counter bashing those who give EA criticisms, with nothing more than "it's a lie" and "EA is the best, it's a fact!" and absolutely nothing intelligent. Now you're trying to call us sheep? How old are you kid? Is your best comeback regurgitating another person's insult?

 

I invite you to attempt to intelligently defend EA and prove to me why they deserve my money. I've played EA sports games since the 90s (well I've rented since 2003) and let me tell ya, not much has changed besides the rosters. So EA should give use a roster update instead charging $60 for a new game. But no, they won't, because they're EA, and on top of that this game is riddled with micro-transactions. Every other menu there's something cool that I think "Oh that must be new, let's try this out." that I click, and find out you have to pay extra for it. There's a reason EA was voted worst company in America, they're a bunch of greedy ****s. There's no way around it. Seeing people like you who blindly worship them makes me lose faith in humanity.

 

 

HadOne2Many
HadOne2Many

 @DingKing

 Gotta agree with you Gamespot is a joke anymore.  Having said that, EA is a joke too. 

Infinite_713
Infinite_713

 @Sparty_On They are the only ones making football games, moron. 2K demolished them in 05. EA Football games suck like you

o016945
o016945

 @underoath83 You're just used to EA's way of releasing games. NFL2K did many things to improve their game in each release. No game released was the same. They continued to add presentation elements, game mechanics, and fixes to their game. They still do that with NBA2K. That game literally changes greatly every single year. Hell, even Top Spin, which is a tennis game, has big changes in each of its release. You should really quit letting EA blind you.

Sparty_On
Sparty_On

@HadOne2Many EA isn't a joke that claim is a lie and you're a sheep.

NCAA Football 13 More Info

  • Released
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    NCAA Football 13 is an American college football game in which players are given the ongoing opportunity to enjoy the collegiate game in multiple ways.
    6.9
    Average User RatingOut of 147 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate NCAA Football 13
    Developed by:
    EA Tiburon
    Published by:
    EA Sports
    Genres:
    Sports, Simulation, Football (American), Team-Based
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms