NCAA Football 11 Updated Hands-On

Let your story be heard in EA Sports' upcoming college football game.

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While I may not spend much time online anymore with my sports games, I always find time for a little NCAA Football online. The dynasty feature in NCAA is probably my favorite mode in any sports game, and taking it online (either against friends of perfect strangers) is a great extension of an already fun mode. Naturally, NCAA Football 11 is bringing online dynasty back, and I've been playing with the system for the past week to check out some of the changes.

Coward's End is our headline. That's a pun!
Coward's End is our headline. That's a pun!

There are two major changes to how online dynasty works in NCAA Football: dynasty wire and the new recruiting process. The dynasty wire features stories from around your online dynasty, and the game will automatically generate stories after each game in the season. If you've got the time (and the inclination), you can edit these stories to your heart's content, adding detailed description of the action on the field. You can also pull highlights from the game (either video or photos) and add them to your story. You can even put together stories before the season begins--I wrote a story about how Auburn would be refusing to redshirt any players for the season, in a mad dash to win and win now.

You can either edit stories in-game (which, frankly, takes forever, thanks to the clunky typing interface) or you can head to NCAA Football 11's dynasty home page, sign in, and put together stories there, which happens to be much easier. However, you'll need to be aware that stories you post via the Web interface will appear on your console, but they'll still be subject to filtering. For example, my recap story on Auburn's come-from-behind victory over Mississippi State was filtered in the console version of the game. I'm assuming it was because I put a "quote" at the end of my story calling for the immediate arrest and jailing of all Bulldogs fans (and LSU fans to boot).

As with the dynasty wire stories, you can also recruit via EA's NCAA Football 11 dynasty portal. As in the console interface, you can do practically everything you need to on the Web, such as checking out team needs, organizing prospects, and searching for specific recruits via a number of criteria. Adding or calling recruits is just a few clicks away, and, of course, you'll only have 10 hours per week to recruit.

Beyond the Web interface, the biggest change to recruiting has to do with the way recruiting interest is more explicitly displayed. There's also a slightly different method of making calls to individual recruits. In the past, you could choose specific aspects of your program--conference prestige, championship contender, and the like--to pitch to a recruit. In NCAA Football 11, those pitches are randomized to a certain extent; once a pitch pops up, you can choose from a number of options: make the pitch on that subject, determine how important that aspect is to the recruit, pitch that aspect against other leading programs, change the subject to something else (which is helpful when a particularly weak aspect of your program appears), make a promise to a recruit, schedule him for a visit, and offer a scholarship.

A more explicit recruiting system lets you know exactly what you need to do to get the recruit of your choice.
A more explicit recruiting system lets you know exactly what you need to do to get the recruit of your choice.

NCAA Football 11's recruiting is much more explicit than in years past in terms of the progress you make with recruits, thanks to a numerical system that will show how many points a particular pitch earns. Pitching a strong aspect of your program that also happens to be a high priority for a recruit will result in a big points gain; while pitching a weak aspect to a recruit who couldn't care less might not make much of a difference. This system is particularly useful when pitching against another program. Say you're trying to compare conference prestige of the SEC against that of a Big 12 school. You'll be able to add a significant number of points to your recruiting total while subtracting points away from that school--a great way to make big strides on a recruit who might be looking at a different program. As the weeks of the season pass, you'll also be able to see where your school ranks in that recruit's eyes, as well as how many points away you are from the next school on that recruit's list. In all, it's a better system; one that makes recruiting--which has seemed a bit of a dark art in the past--easier to understand than ever before.

NCAA Football 11 is due for release on July 13.

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