PS3 Review – NCAA Football 11

EA Sports has been publishing the NCAA Football series for quite some time now, with this year’s edition marking the 18th installment in the series. Many gamers have complained that past game iterations have lacked growth, and that they were only improving by very small increments. While there are only so many improvements that can be made to a football title, it seemed that many things that were present on past consoles completely vanished when this generation’s machines were released. The latest demo for NCAA Football 11 alleviated some of these concerns, but the question is whether these improvements transition over to the full retail release.

Those that have played previous installments of the series should be familiar with the basic premise of the title. The game itself offers the modes the same modes from previous games in the series. The modes you know and love. It’s your choice to pick between practice, exhibition, dynasty, online matchups, and online dynasty as well. There are various other modes that are more family friendly as well, these include both mascot  and one button control games.

Exhibition and online matchups both offer a one-on-one experience to players, but exhibition also gives gamers a chance to team up with friends via co-op play. Dynasty and online dynasty is where many will invest most of their time. Dynasty allows players to take a team of their choosing through season after season, controlling many different aspects of the team. This can range all the way from recruiting to schedule making. The recruiting has been completely overhauled and fine tuned, now it is a much more enjoyable user experience. There are now many choices when trying to gain the interest of a prospective athlete for your school. Within the online dynasty mode players can expect the same experience overall, but also allows for a new feature that has been implemented called Dynasty Wire. Within Dynasty Wire players update their most recent news via the web. This can include photos, videos, and even results from the most recent games.

Road to Glory has made another return in NCAA 11 as well. Creating a player and taking them from their high school playoffs through their entire college career definitely is a lot of fun, and you will find yourself continuing to play the game as you try to rack up stats to eventually win the Heisman with your player. The mode is hosted by many cutscenes that have both Erin Andrews and Kirk Herbstreit as they track the progress of your career.

The level of customization in the game is rather impressive, with NCAA’s Teambuilder making a return for the second consecutive year. Users can create any teams they want with fully customizable logos if they choose to do so. Manage rosters, uniforms, and your stadium from your web browser then simply load your team into the game to play with online or to begin a dynasty.

The gameplay this year has been tweaked a lot. Players will find themselves having to make adjustments in many ways to become successful within the game itself. First and foremost, running in general has been completely revamped. The game introduces a concept called Locomotion, this takes everything into account when moving the ball on the ground or even pursuing when on defense. Both balance and first steps actually matter now; if off balance, this will not only affect your movement but also how long it will take your player to react. Many times this leads to you needing to make the correct reads and adjustments beforehand and as the play is taking place.

Also, when moving the ball both analog sticks allow for complete control of your player, thanks to the game’s Dual Stick Control. The right analog stick allows for tasks such as juking and spinning just like in years past. But now this ties into how hard you push on the right analog stick, and also how far the player leans. This new feature, when paired with the Locomotion system, makes for a much more realistic experience in all aspects pertaining to running and movement in general.

Another nice addition this year is that, in previous installments, receivers during a passing play would simply just catch the ball on the sideline, not even attempting to plant their feet in bounds. This led to many out of bounds calls that could have easily been catches in real life, as the player would certainly at least attempt to keep his feet within bounds. This year, your receivers will do everything in their power to not only catch the ball when you instruct the to catch, but they will also attempt to come down and plant their feet in bounds.

Defensively there have been many improvements as well. It is now harder than ever to try to be a “arcade style” player. Players must read defenses before both running through that lane or attempting to complete a pass. Simply throwing the football downfield isn’t going to work, this will quickly lead to an interception or a swatted pass.

This year, there is a heavy focus on individualizing teams according to their playbooks both offensively and defensively. For example, if you are the University of Texas who run the Spread or even Georgia Tech who run the Option, it is all accurately represented within the game.

This is one of the first NCAA Football titles that fully captures the college atmosphere, and the excitement that comes with it. Considering that all new entrances that are authentic to individual teams have been added, this adds a level of personality to each team. Everything from the roaring crowds and stadiums to the chants and fight songs make this one of the most true-to-life college football titles ever released.

NCAA Football 11 is one of the best football games put out to date, capturing the pep-filled college football atmosphere like no other. Fans of football and more specifically college football, would be doing themselves a disservice by not picking up this title. For those that have yet to upgrade in a few years, this is the one to buy. For players that typically buy each year’s offering, NCAA Football 11 certainly will not disappoint.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Captures college football atmosphere like no other

Innovative new features help keep the ball moving smoothly

Changes to the Dynasty mode make it the best in franchise history

9 out of 10