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Game Guys review - NCAA Football 14

8:31 PM, Jul 9, 2013   |    comments
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  • EA Sports' 'NCAA Football 14' video game.
  • EA Sports' 'NCAA Football 14' video game.
    

It's no secret that EA Sport's NCAA Football franchise has always been a step or two behind its flagship Madden games.  With this year's NCAA Football 14, however, it's hot on the pro game's current-gen heels.

At it's root, this year's game is very much like that of the past few years.  It has, however, gotten a noticeable upgrade thanks to an improved version of the Infinity Engine that debuted in last year's Madden NFL 13.  This engine allows NCAA to have improved on-the-field physics and player-on-player collisions, which are things that change the feel of the game for the better.  These under-the-hood improvements, however, aren't the only additions in NCAA Football 14 as the series' tired playbook also receives a bit of a tweak.

While the mass majority of the plays gamers can fire off haven't changed, what has is NCAA Football 14's emphasis on the option.  EA Sports' dev team did a very good job with modern offensive schemes such as Nevada's Pistol and running the ball with runningbacks and quarterbacks alike has a much more fluid feel than in previous editions.

Fans of televised college football games should feel right at home with heavy ESPN branding (as well as others like Nissan and Coca-Cola) all over the place.  The commentators do a good job at providing a TV-like presentation, but what they say seems a bit too scripted at times.

Visuals are improved over years past, but they're not perfect.  Graphics are far less buggy with the Infinity Engine than they were in Madden NFL 13, which is nice, but it lack pop and what issues are there are noticeable.  This includes inconsistencies between gameplay visuals and post-play animations and a player iso camera that frames players incorrectly.

As with most sports games, there is a pretty good variety of play modes at one's disposal.  In addition to the industry-standard single game and online play, there is also Dynasty mode (with its revamped but not improved recruiting process and RPG-like coach skill progression), and interesting Ultimate Team.  Ultimate Team lets players build a winning program and play against others with college football players from seasons gone by such as Bo Jackson and Peter Warrick.  It's a great time sink.

One final play mode of note is NCAA Football 14's Road to Glory.  Anybody who played football in high school should find this mode highlight worthy.  After all, being able to play a year of varsity high school ball at one's alma mater (such as the Bonanza Bengals of Las Vegas) and be recruited into a college programs and hold one's own once getting there is one heck of a ride.  Outside of Dynasty, this might be the best long-term play option in the entire game.

EA Sports gave its NCAA Football franchise quite a shot in the arm with NCAA Football 14.  It's still not quite up to par with current-gen Madden games on a technical level, but it's close.  Then again, one could argue it's superior thanks to having more than five times the teams - and that's not even counting the nearly limitless number of custom and FCS schools available to be built via the company's online Team Builder tool.

After all, even the Sacramento State Hornets deserve some love.

GAMEPLAY: PRESENTATION: STORY: REPLAYABILITY: QUALITY: FINAL SCORE:
21/25 17/25 15/25 25/25 20/25 83/100

Version tested: PS3 (also available on Xbox 360)

(EA supplied a copy of this game for review.)

See how what our review scores mean and how the math adds up.

News10/KXTV

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