By: Mike Valenti, Sports Radio Host, 97.1 FM The Ticket
There’s a reason why this review comes a week after the release of Electronic Arts’ NCAA 12; I needed that long to truly form an intelligent opinion on a very confusing and taunting product.
This game is more a matter of what might be, could be rather than anything definitive and damning. The product and your satisfaction as a customer will come down to what you are willing to put in and what you are willing to tolerate.
Away we go…
I’ll be up front. I won’t spend much time of graphics, lighting, and the rest of the window-dressing in this review. These things should be good — check that, GREAT. These systems are expensive, are deep into cycle and any company not producing a high level product in the visual department is simply not doing their job.
A quick aside: There are graphical issues with the PS3 version. A patch may fix it but it is simply inexcusable for a product to ship in this manner. The jagged edges that appear when the game is played at anything over 720p is a clear example of mishandled upscaling. Then again, this is EA Sports, the same company that shipped NCAA 10 with broken customization sliders.
The true lifespan of any sports game is gameplay and that is where NCAA 12 becomes complex and maddening. On one hand the game shows clear improvement over it’s previous highly-flawed editions. Revamping of the tackling system, locomotion, and dismissal of “suction” blocking and tackling are a definite plus. CPU AI has also received major upgrades from the “common sense” department. Sadly things that should’ve been handled years ago are just now making their way into NCAA 12. Sorry EA, you don’t get full marks for being 2, 3 and even 4 years late.
The problem is simple; the game engine is broken. Speaking solely out of the box, this game is a buggy, repetitive, ridiculous mess. Issues that have dogged the series for years like a lack of physics, psychic AI defense and random acts of awfulness on the part of the CPU still rear their ugly head. It’s unacceptable at this stage of the game. Period.
But, here is where we determine whether you buy this game or not. You must ask yourself, as a consumer, two critical questions:
1. Am I willing to use sliders, do some testing, and truly find the best gaming experience for me?
2. Can I overlook and accept a few shortcomings in the process?
If you answer yes to these questions there may be hope — serious hope — that you’ll find a lot to enjoy about the game. With some sliders and a lot of testing, I may have this game to a point where it represents the real thing to a very high degree. Throw in some re-rated rosters, a tuning pack and we might just have football bliss.
But fiddling with the details can take a lot of time — and a lot of play time — to perfect. It’s impossible to know where you stand right out of the gate without playing it for a considerable amount of time.
Without these tweaks it’s the same tired, untested, buggy and lackluster game that EA has been putting out since football titles hit the “next-gen” systems. Certain “features” that EA swears are new are really just lipstick on a pig. Others have hit the retail version in buggy or outright busted form. See “crowd noise and interaction” on that one. I don’t think anyone with general knowledge of the game and any desire for a deep simulation experience would give this too long of a look. Why, in 2011, we as consumers are now essentially being asked to become beta testers (on a finished product) is beyond me. But that is the cost of doing business with NCAA 12.
Astonishingly, the game does enough right that many casual players may actually enjoy it. And the NCAA Football fan community is fiercely loyal. Rosters, sliders, tips — it’s all out there for you to download and embrace and make the game as authentic as you’d want it to be. Do you have the time and desire to do so?
Out of the box: 6.5 Average and predictable
With sliders and tuners customized: 8.5 Competent and enjoyable
If EA provides some serious customer support, tunes this, fixes it, and polishes it? Well, then we might have some serious fun. If not it will be shelved by the time Madden 12 is released.
I’ll see you Sept. 1st for the re-review and to see if EA has decided to step up their sports game design where 2K Sports and SCEA shine.
This review is based on a copy for the Xbox 360 sent to SideQuesting by EA Sports. This review has no affiliation with WXYT 97.1 The Ticket or CBS Radio.