NCAA Football 2013 Review (PS3)

Another year of annual sports titles is upon us and with it, we go back to college with this years version of NCAA Football 13. With this latest iteration in the long running series, EA Tiburon opted spend time tweaking and perfecting the series’ mainstays rather than adding anything significant. Whether this Road to Glory will have you preparing for the NFL draft or going off to find a job, you will just have to read on to find out.

Gameplay tweaks are the belle of the ball when it comes to the game, as highlighted ever since the game was first showcased. There are over 430 new catches, 233 new uniform pieces, 20 new quarterback animations, and so much more to slightly improve the experience here. Although slight, these improvements to the current model do a great job of improving upon the solid framework built over the past 20 years.

The game has taken a turn towards realism this year, as you no longer have the ability to drop back and blindly throw a pass, just to witness your receiver make a ridiculous catch and score. No – this year it is more about learning how to play and then executing with precision, making it more rewarding and challenging. These improvements are especially prevalent on offense and in the Road to Glory mode.

Create your player of choice, pick your position, name your school, and get to work on padding your resume to get drafted by the college of your choice. Just like other EA games, in this mode you will play simply as your created player, taking part in your teams offense or defense depending on your selected position. Work your way through high school and on to college, where you must participate in practices, gain XP, and try to work your way up in the depth chart. Pick a big school and it might take longer, go small and you could be starting right away.

I started as a RB and was amazed at how solid it felt to hit the hole with speed or try to slip outside past the defenders. After mastering the RB, I took my talents to the QB position, where one of the big improvements has been made, and that is how you handle the pocket. Quarterbacks now have different drop counts and if you go back too far, your player breaks the pocket and must now scramble. You must pay close attention to your receivers in this position, as now icons appear above receivers, with gray meaning they are not looking for the pass. This new feature really forces players to take stock of their surroundings and look for the best possible receiver out of what’s available.

Road to Glory, like most all of the modes in NCAA Football 13, is basically the same from last year with some added balancing and improvements. A new mechanic called Reaction Time allows players to slow down the game and pick out a whole or try to make a good tackle. This, along with the new QB options and new goals do a good job of trying to make things fresh, but for series vets, it might give you a feeling of ‘been there, done that.’

Not everything is the same old, same old however. This year EA has added the Heisman Mode, where players can choose one of 10 different Heisman winners from the past and play a single system with them on any team you want. That’s right, Hershel Walker – you are running for my Horned Frogs this year. Or you, Carson Palmer, you now play for the Tar Heels. This new mode is absolutely a blast, but can be a little bit too easy. I found myself completely eclipsing the numbers of the past winners and by a huge margin. It felt as though if I picked a runner, my team only ran running plays, thus giving me more than enough opportunities to break some records. Aside from actually playing as the Heisman winner, the mode also has interviews with the athletes about their careers, and little history tidbits about how their Heisman seasons went.

Online Dynasty also makes a return this year, allowing you to create custom conferences, work as the head coach or a coordinator, and basically run everything from anywhere. The biggest thing I found in this mode was just how incredibly deep it is, as you will need to plan your strategy in the draft by deciding who to focus on, your positions of need, and just about everything associated with trying to build a winning program.

Something the series has made huge strides in for recent years has been presentation, and this year does a good job of making some solid updates in this category. But, it is not without it’s flaws. Sound occasionally drops on the PS3 version of the game and at times when traversing the menus, there can be some subtle lag which becomes very frustrating when you have selected the wrong option to go into. There are also some entrance ceremonies where you can see through the crowd.

NCAA Football 13 is a game that brings players closer to the life of a college football player, fighting for play time. Changes to the core gameplay aren’t anything groundbreaking, but provide positive steps forward with some notable additions like the Heisman mode. Deep and rewarding, this is a game that outshines some minor presentation issues, and they are just that, minor.

  • Take on the record years in Heisman Mode
  • New Quarterback tweaks improve experience
  • Same old experience with smart improvements
  • Audio hiccups and laggy menus occasionally pop up
  • Outside of Heisman, no new modes.