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NCAA Football 11
XBox 360, Playstation 3, Playstation 2

Reviewed on: XBox 360

EA Tiburon
Publisher: EA Sports
Rated: "E" for Everyone

CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
CHEATfactor: 6

Much like many organizations, the NCAA Football series goes through a bit of a rebuilding period every time a new console generation hits. The bastard younger stepbrother of the famed Madden series, NCAA Football is known for spending years building up features and momentum, and then having to build it up until one game manages to perfect the formula.

NCAA 11 isn’t that game, but it comes close. There’s enough little tweaks and fixes that you’ll be able to look past the fact that much of last year’s game remains unchanged. It’s not perfect, but it is the definitive collegiate football experience of this generation.

What separates college football (or any college sport for that matter) from the pros is simple; heart. There’s no money, no contracts, no endorsements, just a group of kids playing for the love of the game. This is exactly where NCAA is at its best. Much like the last few games from the previous generations, NCAA Football 11 is chock full of team traditions, and pride. The Ohio State University runs onto the field holding arms, Notre Dame players smack the “Play like a champion” sign on their way out of the tunnel. Sure, there’s some traditions missing, I myself am a bit disappointed at the fact that the “jump around” from Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium wasn’t included (Go Badgers! Sorry, just had to get that in there), but watching the Texas Longhorns throw up the “Hook ‘em!” hand sign after scoring a touchdown is tons cooler than watching a generic animation.

"...there are enough tweaks and small changes to warrant a purchase..."


The most common knock on any EA Sports title is that it’s merely an upgrade from the previous year’s game.  While NCAA isn’t going to change anyone’s views, there are enough tweaks and small changes to warrant a purchase, it’s just a shame that none of those changes are on the major side. If you’ve played last year’s game, you’re going to feel right at home here and everything is mostly untouched – right down to the menu system. One of the key changes though is in the game’s dynasty mode. Sure, you can still earn and use points to try to persuade the country’s top prospects to come to your school, but this year’s game streamlines the process into a much more efficient mini game type of system. The new process also serves to tear down the seemingly endless and hard to navigate wall of information and simplifies it, simply compare two schools and a prospect will voice their opinion.

The Dynasty mode gets another quality improvement when you take the mode online in the form of a web based interface that all players can easily access from any PC. The advantage of this system is obvious, as players can keep tabs on the other games, actively recruit prospects against other users ( seriously, wooing a top prospect away from another user online HAS to be the most rewarding feeling in this game).  The coolest part of the online dynasty system is the fact that users can write up blogs or game specific news that can be shared via a variety of social networking options. To those hardcore NCAA players who instantly jump to the online dynasty the second they get the game home, this is the iteration you’ve been waiting for. This is what true online competition looks like.

"...a slew of new finesse based controls for backs and speed players."


As for the actual on field gameplay, NCAA Football 11 takes much from its predecessor and changes little. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as NCAA Football 10 was a solid game, but sometimes you just want more.  The biggest change to the game’s core gameplay is the addition of a slew of new finesse based controls for backs and speed players. Like most new features in modern sports games, these new maneuvers are performed with the right stick and add a ton of depth to the gameplay.  Most easily compared to when the NHL series adapted the right stick to mimic a hockey stick, here, you can think of the right stick as your player’s lower legs, as how far you tilt it in any direction will correspond with your player’s movements.  This leads to more powerful feeling backs as if you’re able to time things just right, you can fend off a hungry back in some really cool animations. To casual players, it may seem like a small improvement, but it adds a ton of depth and personality to games, as you’re not limited to just the turbo button.

My biggest complaint with NCAA Football 11 by far, is the fact that much like the game’s of previous years, there’s a ton of unfair and unbalanced gameplay here. The computer players somehow obtain super human abilities that allow them to throw the most irresponsible passes and somehow catch them in the middle of coverage, or gain an incredible amount of speed at the most inopportune times. It’s a bit annoying when I’m up by 50 in the third and I’m putting in my second string players, only to have the computer mount the most improbable comeback. The worst part about this? The impossible quickly becomes routine and you expect big endings, which get’s old rather quickly.

NCAA Football is going to sell a ton of copies regardless of what this review says. It’s the first taste of Madden to a football hungry crowd. There will be those though, who hesitate, wondering if they’re buying the same game twice. They aren’t. What they’re getting for their $60 is an incredible collegiate sporting experience that’s the definitive title of this generation; it’ll just feel slightly familiar at times. If you’re going to be playing in an Online Dynasty or even thought about trying it out, NCAA Football 11 is a sure bet. 



CHEATS USED: Achievements List, Trophies List

Last year, NCAA Football and Madden 2010 featured a ton of cheat codes that either affected the gameplay or made things comically different. This year, no so much.  There are a few unlockables, and a few hidden items to pursue throughout the gameplay – not to mention the achievements, but that’s it.

Perhaps later down the line more cheats will be made available, but as for right now, this one’s a bit disappointing.



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