Last week, EA Sports sponsored several posts on the blog where we talked about our fandom and built up to the release of NCAA Football 2011. I quickly purchased the game as soon as it came out and have been playing a good bit all week. Let me say that while EA Sports did pay for us to make all those posts last week, they are not paying us to make this post. Nothing we say here will result in payment. I think that FCC rules require us to say something like that, but even if they didn't I'd want to be clear about this.
Now that I've said that, the game is phenomenal. There are of course issues I've found with it, but overall it's a welcomed improvement over last year's version.
- The new blocking system is quite helpful mostly because it tells you before the snap who each blocker will attempt to block on running plays. This way, you can see runs before they happen a little bit easier. Sure, things don't always go according to plan (the team I play with has a horrid offensive line), but it's still much more reasonable.
- The changes to online dynasty are fantastic. I've already used the storybuilder function to write a smack-talk article in the game. Now the others in the dynasty can read what I've written. Also, the fact that you can recruit on the computer and check statistics, etc. has been fantastic, and we haven't even technically started the dynasty yet.
- The recruiting system is just awesome and much more uniform. Each pitch ticks ten minutes away from your allotted ten hours per week. No more guessing how many things you can talk about in a given phone call. More than ever, I find myself with more time than I need now. That's a good problem to have when trying to build a dynasty.
- Bad recruits turn out to be bad. One of my chief complaints involving rosters in years past is that if you choose a bad team, the roster they have would be impossible to replicate. What I mean by that is that you inherit a team with juniors who are 62 overall. In years past, that would be impossible due solely to the training system. In 2010 most two-star recruits began somewhere between 60 and 70. Now they begin somewhere between 48 and 62. That's so much more reasonable for someone who is really dorky and concerns themselves with such trivial matters.
- The user-interface is much more intuitive and streamlined.
- The running style puts much more emphasis on agility and acceleration than it had in years past. Speed is still the most important attribute, but speed without the other two movement-based attributes isn't incredible.
- FORMATION SUBS!
- Maybe I just have horrible fullbacks, but lead blocking is just as bad as last year. Regularly, you're running behind your fullback and see the end zone from 60 yards away. The next thing you know, your fullback turns around and tries to block someone behind you. Then the safety he should have blocked brings you down for a three yard gain. Ugh. So frustrating.
- If there are mini-games, I can't find them. I didn't play them all that often, but it was nice to be able to challenge someone to a tug-o-war when you only had a few minutes to kill with NCAA 2010.
- At the end of every game, the game automatically takes five screenshots of "big plays" throughout the game and allows you to store these. This would be awesome if I had a hard drive. As it stands right now, the only play in memory is the most recent one, so the last play is ALWAYS the play of the game, and all the pictures come from it. Great, five pictures of my qb kneeling. Another problem with this feature is that you can't speed through it. You have to watch the play of the game and wait while pictures that don't matter to you are "taken."
Again, the series really took a step in the right direction with this title. A lot of the changes have helped the gameplay itself instead of only addressing changes to graphics or the introduction of some new play mode. The sweeping changes probably make this the most improved sequel since the game got to the next gen systems.