NCAA Football 14 (Xbox 360) Review
Posted by Dan Watson on 07.11.2013
The latest version of NCAA's only football video game title has hit retail stores! But is it worth picking up? 411's Dan Watson takes a look in his full review!
Title: NCAA ‘14
Publisher: EA Sport
Developer: EA Tiburon
Available: PS3 and Xbox 360
Every year we hear the same thing from EA Sports around this time of the year, “NCAA is the best yet,” and “Madden is the best it has ever been.” Most of the time, it is a slight roster update or slightly better graphics, but the game play is normally the same. This year NCAA brings a different feel all together. This title is one of the best of the series, if not the best. Let’s look at some of the changes and improvements.
I think everyone who purchases NCAA titles ends up playing two different modes primarily. The first mode is Dynasty, where you are the coach and take your team to the National Championship, hopefully. This mode used to be a pain, especially when it came to recruiting. In previous installments, you would make calls to recruits and spend “hours” on the phone asking them questions and talking about why they need to come to your school. No longer is this the case. Each week, you assign points between zero and five hundred to your recruits. You have five thousand points to ration out. The recruit may have deal breakers like too far from home or not enough television time, etc. As a coach, you can level up and put points into a skill tree to help with recruiting or game day preparation. The recruiting tree has a skill that allows you to break through these deal breakers and unlock the recruit. As you go, it also shows where you rank in the recruits mind as well.
I felt the new recruiting was a great step in making the game more enjoyable. In previous titles, you would spend more time recruiting than actually playing the game. The other big part of recruiting is visits. I had a few four star players come in and watch a game between USC and Notre Dame. We won and they I ended up having two commitments right away. You are given goals for each visit and those will give you bonus points towards recruiting that player.
Also, this year you can take your Dynasty online and play against friends. This creates some fun rivalries and with the ability to change conferences, can lead to a totally new NCAA experience. Finally, you can be the one that brings Notre Dame to the Big Ten where it rightfully belongs.
Road to Glory
For those that don’t play Dynasty, this is the other mode most will play. Road to Glory has you start out as a high school senior trying to impress schools. Unlike previous years, instead of you getting a list of all the schools to pick from, you are given only a few schools that are interested in you. For everything that was great and improved about Dynasty, I think Road to Glory was just transferred right over. This mode didn’t feel as improved as the other and left a lot to be desired. The mode is fun overall, but just not the same as Dynasty.
Just like Madden, NCAA brings us their version of the Ultimate playing card game. The reason I like this more is it gives you cards with players as freshman through seniors. If you play this week, you automatically unlock Bo Jackson as a rookie. Even as a rookie, this guy is amazing in this mode, especially for teams just starting out.
There were two stories that I thought of while playing this game. The first was the saddest part of the game for me. I had just opened my starter pack and was scrolling through to see who my quarterback and wide outs were. My quarterback was Christian Ponder (as a Vikings fan I was devasted) but then my wide out ended up being a rookie Percy Harvin. Instantly I was reminded the Vikings do not have Harvin this year and my heart was broken. The second story was the first card that I unlocked in another mode was none other than alleged murderer Aaron Hernandez. He is a solid tight end in the game though, so I’ll take it.
Nike Training Mode
One thing I used to love about Madden in the early 2000s was the training modes and challenges. NCAA has them this year and unlock different cards for the gold medals you score. The challenges are tough to get through but normally do not take too long to complete. Most involve you reading the defense and acting accordingly. Some of the cards I have unlocked include Aaron Rogers from Cal, Alex Smith, Aaron Hernandez, and a few others.
This game really looks amazing in HD. The pre-game introduction is different for teams depending on traditions. The stadiums look great as well. While playing the game, you feel so close to the action with their new camera as well. It is tough to get used to at first but if you run the ball frequently, it is a perfect camera to use. The angle comes in a bit closer so you are able to see the hole much clearer and watch as blocks develop and break down. One piece of the visuals that I feel was improved is the ticker at the bottom of the screen. It looks as if you are watching ESPN. They have also made it so you can see upset alerts in dynasty mode as well as priority scores such as rival teams.
The sounds are about the same here as they have been in previous years. You aren’t getting any real music other than school anthems. The hits do sound good though and the commentators aren’t as annoying as previous years. During dynasty mode games, the in-game breaks are really good as well.
While some may say it feels the same as other years, this game is much improved. Road to Glory is a bit lacking but Dynasty more than makes up for it. The coach progression is great as is the over-haul on the recruiting system. This game is easily one of the best football games of this generation.
Visuals are great this year
Overall feel of the gameplay is great
Same sounds as before
Dynasty mode is great
It is hard to put this game down, especially when you are online with friends in dynasty mode