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NCAA Football 12 Review


With our senescent seventh generation consoles experiencing an enduring lifespan, the yearly update has been a popular publishing stratagem. Now in its sixth year of development on the Xbox 360 (and fifth year on the PlayStation 3), the NCAA Football franchise has been able to continually evolve without having to be radically recoded for new hardware- allowing the series to steadily improve its simulation of college ball. Expectedly, NCAA Football 12 mends a handful of blemishes; although after a half-decade of continual refinement, most of the game’s major faults have already been excised.

One of the game’s most noticeable enhancements stems from the title’s new tackling engine, which use the momentum of collisions rather than pre-canned animations to determine how a defender brings down the ball carrier. Now, wrap-ups begin at the point of contact instead of some arbitrary spot, eliminating the surreal sliding or warping of players around the field. Additionally, other defenders sporadically help bring players down, although the complexity of a accurate gang tackle still seems to elude the developers. Once players have control of the ball, running feels wonderfully visceral thanks to these enrichments, making a potential  break through the line a consistently rousing experience. Even passing has been given a renovation, with the ball no longer magnetically attracted to your receiver’s hands. Zone Coverage, a persistent nuisance for the series has been mended, with your secondary accurately suppressing receivers in their zone.


Even more obvious are NCAA 12‘s visual upgrades, which are evident from before the kickoff to post-game. Pre-game excitement is roused with ten new mascots and eighteen new entrances, allowing LSU’s Mike the Tiger and Wake Forest’s motorcycle-riding deacon to replicate  the frantic spectacle of a passionate Saturday afternoon game. Likewise, the title’s on-screen  tickers,  stadium shots, replays and screen wipes help to emulate the verve of a ESPN broadcast. While it may sound like a trivial upgrade, NCAA‘s 3D grass, makes the flat ground textures of most football games seem archaic. Fields even display a bit of degradation as the clock winds down, and show the irregular piercing blade when snow falls. HDR lighting ensures that shadows are accurately modeled, and that quarterbacks facing a setting sun are appropriately stymied.

Those dissatisfied with the polls and programming of the real-life BCS selection system might revel in NCAA 12‘s ability to create your own custom conferences. With little effort I was able to tweak the ACC  around, making my Tarheels journey to the Gator Bowl an exceptionally arduous effort. Beyond middling with the NCAA’s configuration, the title’s Road to Glory mode also allows for some fantastical fiddling as players guide an athlete from their senior year of high school, through the recruiting process. Initially, players are bound to follow your coaches’ demands- but gain a bit of experience, and you’ll begin to see the virtues of autonomy. Additionally, a player’s performance also earns boosters, which can be used to augment career or single-game stats.


Gamers captivated with decision-making can hone their managerial skills with NCAA 12‘s coaching carousel. Cultivating a winning team allows players to catapult themselves to the most prestigious four year institutions- if they’re willing to forgo the temptation of resigning for another season. Whether players step into the shoes of either head coach or a coordinator position, one improbable wrinkle exists- they are also responsible for team recruitment.

Although a host of improvements elevate the quality of NCAA Football 12‘s simulation, several niggling setbacks rupture a sense of unmitigated immersion. Ball physics continue to be bit wonky, sporadically bouncing off both athletes and the ground as if it’s made of solid rubber. Players continue to lack situational awareness, and are often oblivious to the play unfolding around them. While custom playbooks are a welcome addition, building an off-field repertoire  a bit cumbersome. One example: removing or replacing a play tied to your team’s audibles requires coaches to jump into another sub-menu.


Despite some setbacks which restrain a varsity-level verisimilitude, NCAA Football 12‘s is an amazingly enjoyable title. From the game’s invigorating pre-game intros to an array of components which capture nearly every minutiae of college ball, there’s enough content on the disk to keep players engaged well past bowl season.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

29 comments

  1. Great review, Deagle. I was waiting for this one to go live.

  2. A few days late, but a solid review.

  3. Wait, Tarheels is your team, but there’s no screenshots? Turf looks a lot better.

  4. So is it worth the $60 bucks, or should I wait for Madden?

  5. I’d make my own conference with every badass school in the country and find out whose really best.

  6. I’m surprised that many people are into college ball. Maybe if there’s no pro games by September even more will hop on board.

  7. Another year, another game out of the EA cookie-cutter machine.

    next…

    • If you’re just going to troll, take to IGN or 1Up.

    • You do have a point, but you need to present it with a bit less troll-y language.

      I buy EA’s sports game every 3 years, and only when they are on sale.

  8. What positions are available to play as in RTG? I’d play as a kicker just for shits and giggles.

  9. I know bring up how pathetic IGN these days is cliche, but did anyone see Greg Miller’s awful review? This one was so much better!

  10. I don’t know anything about college football, but I always like reading your reviews, Deagle. Keep it up!

  11. Is that supposed to be a real alligator head, or do they touch a replica for good luck?

  12. Looking forward to your Madden review.

    Good, concise analysis!

  13. dude, custom playbooks work fine for me. You only have 6 audibles, who isn’t not really an issue most of the time.

  14. SouthernComfortD

    If you’ve messing with the ACC, you’ve been talking to NOLA too long 😉

    Don’t like the Pac-12?

  15. I’m glad they fixed Zone D. Took them forever to do it, though.

  16. Spongebob Nopants

    Any deals of it, besides (I think I missed it) the 40% trade in?

  17. Thank you, good solid review. I think I’ll break down and get this one.

  18. Good review Deagle! What’s the pay deal for commissioners? I heard that costs money!

  19. I can’t wait to play with myself!