Ever since I had the privilege of playing the 2003 edition of NCAA Football for the first time on the PS2, I’ve been completely hooked on the franchise. I’m not so hardcore as to buy a new edition of the franchise annually like some (and I couldn’t even if I wanted to, since I only own a GameCube and a Wii at the moment), but there’s something about picking up, playing and experiencing college football in video game form that completely engrosses me. I’m happy to report that NCAA Football 11 looks to be one of the most complete games we’ve had in years.
What you will notice right out of the gate is the newly introduced ESPN integration. This means that in order to replicate an authentic college football TV experience, the game comes complete with several new ESPN animations, graphics, and motifs that will look very familiar to you if you have had any exposure to college football on TV. The ESPN integration is absolutely terrific and adds a depth of realism to the game that was impossible otherwise. However, all of this comes with a price, as it appears that long time commentator veteran Lee Corso is out of the game completely. Thankfully, Erin Andrews will appear in this year’s title, as will Brad Nessler and Kirk Herbstreit with newly recorded lines.
Another key area of improvement is that in addition to the tweaked visuals, new fluid player movement is featured in this year’s iteration. Players break tackles, tackle, and most importantly, run much more smoothly than ever before, due to added development time spent on working out the robotic character movement that has plagued the last few games. More development time was also donated to the lighting aspect of 11, with each time of day being represented in the game. This means that games will no longer look like they are set at standard times a la midday, morning, or night. You can input your own specific game time and the game will do a marvelous job at simulating that exact time in-game. Character shadow effects have also benefitted from this visual overhaul.
To add to the above, there are new team mascots, team builder makes a comeback, as well as on-field referees, and new custom playbooks just to name a few. I also asked one of the developers how one of the most crucial updates is made each year - the team and player stats. He stated that rather than vigorously following certain individuals, EA is sure to make each team match their real life counterparts. For example, it wouldn't make for an authentic replication if Alabama didn't have a strong rushing offense, or Navy a powerful option-style attack, so they match playbook styles accordingly for the best results.
Look for a review of NCAA Football 11 next month.