NCAA Football 13

Dynasty Warriors

NCAA Football 13 recalls the days of Bo Jackson’s Tecmo Bowl dominance.

By Drew Toal • July 16, 2012

Sports games today are judged on how accurately they recreate their real-life counterparts. This was not always so. In the ’80s and ’90s, the stars of popular sports games were gods among mortals, pulling off feats that no normal athlete could hope to imitate. RBI Baseball’s Andre Dawson, NHL ’94’s Jeremy Roenick and the unstoppable Bo Jackson of Tecmo Bowl were all rendered so dominant that they could upset the balance of an entire match. I can only imagine what Jackson’s Tecmo Bowl teammate, fellow Heisman winner and future NFL Hall of Famer Marcus Allen, thought of being made roughly a third as effective as the two-sport star with whom he shared a backfield.  

The era of the video game superhero-athlete is gone, but NCAA Football 13 hearkens back to those silly days with its Heisman Challenge mode. Choosing from among 16 previous Heisman Trophy winners—including legends Jim Plunkett, Everybody Loves Tebow, and the afore-slighted Marcus Allen—you can play an entire season with one of these bygone superstars, while trying to exceed their already gaudy historical numbers. It’s not meant to be an exact historical recreation. You can stick these gridiron heroes on whatever team you like. It can get real Twilight Zone-y real fast, say by putting 1984 winner Doug Flutie on the University Of Miami.

NCAA Football 13

This is all just a pleasant distraction from NCAA Football 13’s true appeal—it’s run entirely through the Kinect motion sensor. From the comfort of your own living room, drop back in the pocket, bark audibles to your receivers, and—oh, sorry. I must’ve been having one of those daydream nightmares. There is actually no Kinect tie-in to NCAA Football 13. At all. I give thanks to the ghost of Don Hutson that for once, no one with real influence at EA thought that shoehorning Kinect into a flagship sports game would be a good idea.

Thanks to its pageantry and its lack of a salary cap, NCAA Football has long since eclipsed Madden as the best football video game. And this year’s edition improves on last year’s model, if only aesthetically. Dynasty Mode still allows you to take any team in Division I college football and build them into a world-beating juggernaut. As you play through multiple seasons, players graduate, and you can import them onto Madden rosters. Moreover, to replace your graduates, you must convince high school football talent from around the country to attend your university. Only some recruits match up with your school’s strengths. Enticing new players—through a mix of snake-oil cajolery, bald-faced lies, and a few stabs in the back of your conference rivals—is as much fun as playing the actual games.

NCAA Football 13

For a veteran of the series, those actual games require some adjustment. I played a dozen or so seasons NCAA Football 12, and with that much time to develop a powerhouse school, my offensive line might have been superior to that of the 1992 Dallas Cowboys. My stud quarterback—two time Heisman winner Drew Toal IV—had all day to throw 80-yard end zone strikes. NCAA Football 13, though, muddles that simple formula by introducing a bunch of new quarterback mechanics known as “Total Control Passing.” You must time your throws as the receivers cut, leading them properly and throwing with the correct ball trajectory. There are new controls for sack avoidance in the pocket, too.

The sack avoidance thing doesn’t work, because trying to integrate all of these new wrinkles into my repertoire does nothing but ensure that my QB just gets pulverized for 10-yard losses all game, no matter how adroit his footwork is. He’s just getting murdered back there, but each bone-jarring hit releases scattered bits of loose wisdom inside his traumatized brain. He’ll learn, but will it be in time to avoid the worst of this Bloodsport-style violence being inflicted on him? Stay tuned for the answer in NCAA Football 14.

NCAA Football 13
Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewed on: Xbox 360 
Price: $60
Rating: E

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169 Responses to “Dynasty Warriors”

  1. PugsMalone says:

    I really could have done without the rhythmic slapping sounds minigame.

  2. Effigy_Power says:

    Looking at these pictures I am mostly sad that Baseball games don’t look this good. The graphics of MLB2K12 are terrible and the movements so buggy, whereas EA Sports’ Football games are fluent and pretty.
    I can’t wait to see who snatches up the MLB license for the 360 now that it seems that 2K Sports has dropped their rights to it.

    • Asinus says:

      I’m not a sports game fan in general (though I do play Mutant League Football regularly) so I’m kind of surprised to hear that Baseball games are lagging in the graphics department. Baseball involves such a relatively small amount of movement that you’d think they’d be leading the photorealism race in MLB games. I don’t mean that as a slight, just that there ought to be a little less processing required  for other stuff that they should get a boost in graphics with little penalty.

      • Effigy_Power says:

         The MLB license is pretty much the only major sports license not in the hands of EA Sports, but on the 360 and the PC was until this year in the hands of  2KSports, who haven’t done all that much with it. Stadiums look fine, but the presentation is terribly dull, even for the admittedly slow pace of baseball, and the player models are terribly basic, making the creation of your own player more or less redundant.
        I have never played Sony’s MLB:The Show on the PS3, so I don’t know if that’s any better, but considering the gorgeous graphics in the latest soccer, football, basketball and hockey games by EA, the baseball section is pretty musty looking.
        I am wondering who will pick up the license next year. I’d be surprised if EA would let it slip through its fingers again, though I am not sure what that would mean.
        For now I am left with the ugly, somewhat boring and unfathomably buggy MLB2K12 (with bugs that are never fixed and have been part of the game since well back from 2009), so I must believe that any change will be an improvement.

        • HobbesMkii says:

           I’ve heard the Show is the best baseball game you can buy. But I don’t own a PS3 (and currently have no plans to buy one) so I too feel somewhat dejected by the state of modern baseball simulators. The closest I guess I’m gonna get is Baseball Mogul.

        • Asinus says:

          You should try to find a used (Slim) PS3, @HobbesMkii:disqus ; even if you never play a game on it (and my power on time to play time ratio is very low) it’s a useful contraption. I just wish it could play lossless music formats (it won’t even play lossless ATRAC!).

  3. Asinus says:

    “Moreover, to replace your graduates, you must convince high school
    football talent from around the country to attend your university.”

    I’m glad someone finally merged sports games and dating simulators!

    • JudgeReinhold says:

      If you play as Alabama, do they let you “convince” people with suitcases full of cash? 

      • A_N_K says:

        I play exclusively as Ohio State, and I had hoped this year they finally implemented a “lie to NCAA investigator” simulator. 

        The big football programs are so corrupt, in compliance and recruiting violations, it feels like EA is leaving out a major portion of the game by not simulating this.

      • Asinus says:

        I played as Penn State. :(

  4. Cornell_University says:

    I really hope the history revisionism/time machine fuckery of these games only continues to expand.  I am desperately in need of an NBA2K game where Larry Bird and Nancy Reagan give Len Bias a “just say no” speech right before you start ’87 season mode.

  5. Drew Toal says:

    I actually wrote “My stud fiend quarterback…” Teti must’ve edited it out. 

    • Mooy says:

      There can be only one!

    • teucrian says:

       Once again the cover up is worse than the crime.

      If he would just acknowledge his stud fiendom openly and allow the joke to live on, we’d all just acknowledge it, use it about fifty more times, then move on with our lives.

      Instead he uses editing skulduggery to cover his shame.