NCAA is Back in the Game!
NCAA is Back in the Game!
By Michael Rogge
The next annual installment of EA’s college football offering is less than two weeks away, so it was with great anticipation that I played the NCAA Football 14 demo (now available for download on Xbox Live and PSN). The first impression gives you that same familiar feeling, but you can tell that there are subtle differences. Present as always are the usual small, stylistic changes that are made year to year in the title screen and menus. It’s there that we get to our first new surprise: now there’s a Nike Skills Trainer to help teach you the basics of the Total Pass Control system, as well as the option. The Skills Trainer runs you through basic drills in offense and defense, and then puts you through some 11-on-11 executions to try out the skills you’ve just learned. It’s a welcome addition and a big help for players to pick up the basics of an option attack, and how to aim passes to help complete those critical passes late in the game.
There are three match-ups available in this year’s demo. You can choose between Ohio State-Michigan, Oregon-Texas A&M, and Alabama-Virginia Tech. After trying them all you get a good sense in the changes to this year’s game. EA has made giant strides forward with offensive line blocking, giving it a much more realistic feel than anything they’ve had in years past. Your players actually seem to be engaging the defense and trying to make the blocks like they should be made! The option attack is actually now an option (pun intended!), where in years past it was easily shut down and couldn’t be used as your go-to play-book. Another big change is the passing. While EA has employed Total Pass Control for some years now, in this year’s version the ball actually follows an arcing trajectory. No more passes flying 40 yards down the field only six feet above the ground and easy pickings for the defense. Passes can now be dropped in over the player’s shoulders and thrown over the defensive players. With these simple, yet crucial, offensive changes, EA has already assured players of a great game (and we haven’t even covered the defense yet!).
Gone are the defensive players that performed more like automatons than humans. We no longer have the DB who can run backwards faster than the WR can run forward. EA has added a much more realistic action to the players and this has really opened up the offense and made the defense’s job harder. The plays seem to be the same, but with the tackling engine changed yet again, you get much more realistic tackles, as well as players swiftly getting tired faster from being tackled. The depth will become much more apparent as the games go on. With the new blocking defenses, players can now take better advantage of mismatches on the DL and help out their DB.
EA has made some great strides the last few years and this game is no exception. With the changes not apparent in the demo (assistant coaches affecting the team, a new, faster recruiting system) it would seem that EA definitely listened to the feedback of NCAA fans. It remains to be seen how the changes that have been made will affect the long multi-season online dynasties, but honestly, it looks like EA scored another touchdown with this latest iteration. Now they have me staring at the calendar waiting for July 9th!