I thought I would post a follow-up on NCAA Football 12 now that it’s been out for four weeks. Suffice to say I have given up on this game, for now.
Although I have found some sliders that make this game pretty good, there is no getting around the fact that the passing game is pretty broken. The biggest issue is the reaction of defensive players on passing plays. On episode 10 of the Hippo Podamus, Chris and I discussed the HGH-powered linebackers who make leaping knockdowns and interceptions on most passes over the middle, usually when they are playing a zone defense.
There aren’t a lot of linebackers getting interceptions in real life, and certainly not at the frequency that happens in this game. In my offline dynasty, I am playing on Varsity with adjusted sliders and this doesn’t seem to happen quite as often, but it could also be that I subconsciously throw over the middle less than I used to out of pure fear.
The problem is, that Varsity or All-American, sliders or not, the super human defensive backs remain. Now let me preface this by saying that it IS possible to throw the deep ball and succeed, although that’s mostly with fast wide receivers who get free on a streak route. The deep passing game hasn’t always worked, so that is a nice addition.
The issue at hand is that one DB is able to cover two receivers relatively easily. This is because the DBs’ reaction time is super human. I have watched many replays where I notice a DB following one receiver, running say a post, when a second receiver on the same side of the field is running a streak. The second the ball is thrown, despite the DB never looking back, the DB breaks towards the receiver he is NOT covering and always catches up to him before the ball gets there.
I understand the not looking back thing, it’s a video game, but the ball seems to move so slow in the air, and the DB seems to react so quickly the instant it’s thrown that the receiver usually has no chance. This is why I think there are so many interceptions in this game because the only real way to have success is timing routes. Everything has to be: throw the ball way before the receiver gets past his man and hope that he does, and a lot of time he doesn’t, because again, the DBs react so quickly.
There’s also other little stupid things. Receivers have literally been hit in the back of the head by the ball, 30 yards downfield, because they never turned or tried to catch it. Also, the way that DBs trace the receivers routes perfectly, and have the ability to quickly take a couple of steps towards the ball right at the last second that the receiver can’t, leading to countless interceptions where you had your man beat.
The more and more I play this game, the more and more I realize how much of a problem not having a real physics engine is. The ball travels the same way every time. It appears that even when it’s not a perfect spiral (which you can see on replays) the trajectory and speed do not vary. You occasionally see bad throws, but at least 1/3 of all incompletions are drops, interceptions, swatted balls or throwaways. The volleyball style bouncing of the ball after it’s tipped is still there, and the way that kicks and punts look exactly the same every time is ridiculous.
Then there is the new and improved running game/tackling engine, which was supposed to remove suction blocking/tackling. After roughly 25 games the only thing this did was make it harder to play defense. Although I am getting better, I still miss countless tackles by overrunning people. I still find my pass rushers getting trounced most of the time. The holes are a bit easier to run through, but still seem to close too fast, and broken tackles seem way down (maybe that’s a good thing?). The worst part of all though seems to be the complete lack of fumbles. The last 10 or so games I have played I have only seen a couple of fumbles, despite the fact that I would assume in real college football they happen a couple times a game on average.
There is a patch due out by the end of the month, and it’s supposed to correct a lot of broken items, some which were created by the launch day patch (which included some sort of downgrade of the graphics). There was a big bug that affected roster editing, that from at least one thread on Operation Sports, indicated it was actually massively breaking certain parts of the game. At the moment I am waiting for that patch and hoping for a much improved game.
Every year I play this game less and less, and last fall I made a commitment to not buy this year’s version without big sweeping improvements promised. As good as the tackling/blocking engine was advertised, it still didn’t push it over the top, and yet I bought the game anyway. I know it’s just because I like college football too much. Next year though, it might be time for a break.