What We Already Know:
EA has been dominating the college football video game market since Bill Walsh College Football back in 1993, which became NCAA Football with NCAA Football 98. But it often lives in the shadow of its older Madden brother, and occasionally gains some features from that sibling as things get handed down. Thankfully, the development team manages to make NCAA Football 11 stand alone.
What We're Seeing Now:
As far as the gameplay goes, this is basically the same game as NCAA Football 10, with a few additions. This year, the game has school-specific runouts for 30 of the top teams in college football. Want to see how the Texas Longhorns take the field before a showdown? It's in the game. They’ve tweaked the lights as well, so players now cast shadows across other players. “Finally,” you’re saying, “That’s really what I’ve been waiting for.”
The game is gaining the Pro-Tak tackle system from Madden NFL 10, the ability to add numbers to helmets (Alabama fans go nuts), auto-saving (thank you!), dual-stick controls, and new equipment (towels, knee braces, etc.). The game plays almost exactly the same (the dual stick controls feel nice), but you’ll notice an immediate change in player handling due to a new, momentum-based locomotion system. This makes running, turning, and cutting feel much more realistic, and EA set up a whole new motion capture system just for this feature.
The biggest addition outside the huddle is the Dynasty Wire, which allows you to upload your Dynasty actions online (they’ll live at dynasty.easports.com), including up to five photos and five videos per game. You can also publish stories from your feed directly to Facebook or Twitter, get email alerts, and other users can comment on them. Look for plenty of trash talk via this feature. Dynasty Wire is also compatible with the iPad and the iPhone.
Also new is ESPN integration, and a Road to Glory feature hosted by Erin Andrews with full-motion video. They’ve also added a feature that you won’t be able to change: Tim Tebow is gracing the cover of all versions of the game. A collector’s edition features an alternate cover with Tebow crying. Okay, that’s a joke. Don’t kill me, Florida fans.
The game feels a lot like NCAA Football 10, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the locomotion change is a welcome addition to the ground game, and makes things seen a lot more natural. With ESPN now involved, it’s feeling more and more like Saturday afternoons when you’re in the middle of a game.