EA puts in minimal effort this year. Bland and boring, you will wonder how LA Noire and this come out in the same year.

User Rating: 5 | NCAA Football 12 PS3
I have played NCAA football games since NCAA Gamebreaker '96 back on PS One. I almost exclusively play Dynasty mode. From my experience, this is one of those years where so little progress was made, it is frankly insulting to charge $60 for a game engine running on PlayStation One technology. For the yearly players/purchasers of NCAA, here are the pros/cons of this years version:

-Gameplay sliders actually work (For instance if you turn down the interception slider, less interceptions will happen, unlike previous years where you could turn it down to zero and nothing would change).
-Your schools ratings on things such as Coach Prestige actually change during the season (OMG! I have wanted that for years)
-Pass rush is better
-Customize able playbooks are great, though I am not sure why create a play was not included.
-Players feel a bit more realistic when moved
-No play is out and out broken
-AI is better, but very unrealistic
-Game looks good in cutscenes
-Custom Conferences and Bowl bids are a nice touch.
-I enjoyed the new goal system as a coach and designing my own coach was kind of fun, but very limited.

-Graphics are ok, field grass is flat and PS2 era, 3D in cutscenes.
-ESPN license barely used and not used in an exciting way to make the game feel more authentic. More advertising really.
-Forced to see in-game advertisements from Nissan, Coke Zero, Sparq, ect. with no reduction in pricing. EA makes sure they get new commentary, icons, ect. every year, rest assured.
-Animations are very limited, dated, and boring; like robots are on the field. Players have little personality because of this and the game doesn't use ESPN to develop them (Like the newspapers in Madden '05). Players can't commit certain personal fouls, get in fights, use offensive/grandoise celebrations, ect.
-Lee Corso is no longer in the game as announcer and was not replaced. Also, no new commentary was added. It gets so repetitive and boring you will want to turn it off quickly. All referees have the same voice/body type, it is boring. Players all sound the same as does every stadium and the way players move and act. The game needs a new engine which can accommodate 10 times or more the number of outcomes/animations/sounds/scenarios. No blood, cuts, scrapes, bruises. I don't even think uniforms can get dirty or those little black things in the turf don't fly up. The field doesn't get torn up in the rain if it is grass. The list is endless.
-Physics engine doesn't make you feel the hits and the screen doesn't shake on huge plays like in years past.
-The game is poorly coded leading to frequent and sometimes long loadtimes. I know this because the game has barely changed since the PS One days, yet it loads menus slowly, there is load times after big plays, ect. I could overlook this, but simming through weeks in Dynasty takes way longer than it should. For instance, when you sim each week in off season recruiting it can take 10 minutes each week, literally. Games like Civilization 4 & 5 have been sped up between turns significantly by cleaning up the coding. Don't expect an update from EA, ever.
-Pregame, halftime, and postgame presentation is still well below the bar set by NFL 2K5. It is minimal at best. In game presentation is just awful. No stat windows, interesting notes about the players, ect. Also, most schools do not have special pregame intros that EA advertises so heavily, only a few do. The rest get a lame, generic marching band intro.
-Player still suction into animations, they just took out some of the animation to make to appear that way. It is embedded in the engine's code so that once events happen up to a certain point they cannot change, that is why players get suctioned into plays, the limitations of the engine. For example, run an option or try to make a throw just before a sack or watch your receivers try to catch a pass.
-Receivers still don't come back to make a play on the ball and generally don't fight for passes. Recievers always get caught up when jammed by corners. Pass interference is almost never called, they will block your route, jam you after 5 yards, ect. The is no "jump ball" animations for a struggle between a defender and a receiver. Linebackers and D lineman are too good at pass coverage. They can jump a mile in the air and react almost instantly. This means EA has set the average awareness much higher this year (along with their already ridiculous jumping default, which has been too high for years, but was unnecessary to fix a game breaking deep ball completion percentage problem years ago) to cover up the AIs awful pass defense most years. A band-aid fix. Passing will probably be to easy next year, just you wait, it always goes back and forth.
-Offensive lineman completely miss blocks of critical defenders that are right next to them, instead going to the second level or sometimes if they can't find anyone to block they will slowly creep along and then stand there doing nothing as you zip by them. Other times on plays with pulling guards they perform too well leading to counters being very strong, sealing the edge almost magnetically locking into place perfectly for long gains.
-Certain plays and formations are just awful compared to their real life counterparts and unrealistically bad such as the Pistol playbook, Maryland I, Overloaded Backfield, and several running plays that almost always guarantee losses in yards or more yards for comparable plays, for example. Other running plays have (for years) depicted in the play art the runner going to the wrong hole like the Power O. It tells you to run to the outside, when in reality to have any success with the play you always follow your pulling guard.
Also, certain plays are very strong and one could argue overpowered like the counter play with two receivers on the same side of the field or plays with fly routes for the "inside" receivers.
-New online "Season Showdown" gives you penalties for running up the score and going for it on 4th down. It's my game EA, I'll play it (rather successfully) how I want to.
-ESPN radio in dynasty is way louder than the rest of the game and cuts itself off after so many seconds, instead of finishing the story, which is very annoying. Also, annoying is the fact that it plays the same news over and over again every few minutes so you will end up turning this off.
-In the past players could get in trouble with the NCAA but that has yet to return.
-It looks like a lot of time was spent developing the new Coach Carousel feature, which I can't understand because I never want to change schools, especially after spending so much time building up a bad program. I'm not sure who will use this.
-Recruiting is still a joke. I had a top 30 recruiting class with awful one star Washington State, even getting 2 five stars. It is boring and not immersive. Unfortunately, if you let the computer do it for you, you will have a very bad class, so you are kind of forced to do it your self. The AI will low ball you constantly singing 1 star and two star players, when even as the worst schools you need not attempt to sign less then a three star if done right. One and two star recruits are almost worthless.
-The only penalties you will see regularly are holding and offsides/encroachment/false start. You will see clipping on special teams and occasional roughing the passer if you play D-line like I do :).

Overall, new players or players of only a few years will probably like this game, hence the higher reviews from the gaming websites. Seasoned football gamers like myself know this is the same shiny turd we play year after year. Since EA canned 3 executives that were on the Madden development team this year, there is hope for that franchise and if it turns around, hope for NCAA as well. Thanks for reading my review and here's to hoping Madden is better and where they spent their time.