Here’s the deal, I’m a huge football fan and I have been my whole life. I had one of those childhoods where I played little league, middle school and high school football. Almost every week growing up consisted of football. Seriously. Every day after school I had football practice. Every Thursday I had JV games to play in. Every Friday I had varsity games to watch (I wasn’t very good ha ha). Every Saturday I had college games to watch and every Sunday I had NFL games to watch. Even in the off-season, my world revolved around studying and readying myself for the next season in the weight room.
As a kid, naturally, I loved video games. So, when video games came out that combined my two biggest loves (mainly the Madden and NCAA franchises) I jumped at the chance to play them. I would mow my grandma’s yard, take care of my dad’s garden, offer to rake the neighbor’s leaves…pretty much anything that I could think of that would help me scrounge together enough cash to buy the current year’s game.
Both franchises came out every year (and still do). It was as reliable as the changing of the seasons. It didn’t matter to me though, even though most years just offered more of the same gameplay. I bought them every damn year.
Anyway, being a lifelong fan, and self-professed expert, on both the NCAA and Madden video game franchises, I was quite enthused for the opportunity to play NCAA Football 14, the last of it’s kind to use the NCAA logo and name in the franchise. Unfortunately, after playing for several hours I was meant with some disappointment. NCAA 14 doesn’t really offer a lot of super new or exciting features. It’s mostly just more of the same.
That’s not saying it’s necessarily a bad game. The folks over at EA have the NCAA formula down pact. Gameplay is tight and fun. The experience is more realistic thanks to the inclusion of the Infinity Engine seen in Madden. Hits are hard and impactful, physics are a lot more realistic and both the size and weight of players actually have a meaning behind them in terms of what types of players certain positions can realistically go up against.
NCAA 14 even extends this new formula to the running game, allowing gamers to make sharper and more accurate cuts via weight shifting while running on the turf.
I won’t lie. I had a lot of fun playing games as my favorite NCAA team (BYU, WHAT WHAT!).
Mainly though, it’s because I have always had fun with the NCAA franchise. It’s almost like I knew exactly what to expect and what was going to happen. After awhile, the obvious flaws in the title began to wear on me as I came to terms that there wasn’t a whole lot of new in this “new” game.
My biggest issues: 1) the graphics look dated. At heart, I’m a Nintendo guy so graphics, in all honesty, don’t matter that much to me. However, I don’t like it when I see a game that I know could easily look better from an aesthetic point. It feels like the developers just got lazy.
2) The players in the game feel as bland and generic as ever. When I play, I don’t feel connected to the players at all. Here goes generic QB #2, throwing a pass to generic WR #81.
3) The announcers seemed really stiff and forced in the way they call matches.
Now that all that’s out of the way, I will say that the things that the game did add new were really good. Dynasty mode returns, which adds a bit of an RPG style feel to the game because you’re tasked with assigning points as needed for recruiting.
Additionally, as a coach, you earn experience points based on the things you do and the decisions you make, that allow you to level up and access a skill tree. As I briefly touched on above, the running game is vastly improved over other games in the franchise thanks to the improved physics.
All in all, if you’re a football fan you’ll probably want to play the game. However, don’t expect there to be anything groundbreaking that warrants the purchase. With the exception of a few new, key features, it’s the same satisfying NCAA experience you’ve been playing for years… which may or may not be a good thing.