|Photo: EA Sports|
Grab onto something and hold tight, everyone.
The newest teaser of NCAA 13 has been released to the masses -- that's right, even you can get it! -- with the launch of this year's demo on the PS3 and Xbox 360. For practical purposes, I downloaded the demo on the 360 as the time was cut drastically thanks to the $90+ smackers I schell out to get faster speeds and a stronger online performance.
With that in mind, even those on the PS3 can still get a taste as the gameplay is essentially the same.
And.. yes.. the gameplay was as good as advertised.
But before I delve into my thoughts on the demo, I'd like to start off with a quick foreword:
When the NCAA 12 demo released, we here at Beard and Stache were pumped. Both Adam and myself were totally sold that EA Sports (I know, foolish as it may be) had actually fixed and patched any issue that may have lingered in the past.
Of course, anyone who played last year's edition for any extended amount of time learned that the game, although very polished, had several major flaws that were easy to overlook on first glance. Things like Online Dynasty servers crashing, linebackers jumping out of the gym to snag interceptions and swat balls away, psychic cornerbacks and the ever-dreaded basket catch.
With all the above listed discrepancies that caused an immense amount of frustration -- here are some quick thoughts on the demo:
Oh, Yes, the Passing is Silky Smooth
EA Sports promised that the entire passing structure had been re-tooled and greatly improved from year's past with a plethora of new animations, a smoother drop-back and a more realistic trajectory system -- and they delivered.
On every single drop back and roll-out I felt totally in control, and for the first time in any EA Sports game to date, I felt totally comfortable in the pocket. The collection of new animations were flawless and accurate with seamless movement.
When passing the ball, quarterbacks no longer just lob balls carelessly on short passes and throw bullets on fade routes, but instead throw the correct type of pass for the situation. Although it may be difficult to imagine, when playing in game, it works as designed.
Corners Actually Watch the Quarterback
Who remembers in NCAA 12 when a corner would pull a ridiculous spinning interception downfield without ever turning around to locate the ball?
Good news -- that doesn't happen anymore. Corners actually watch the quarterback and follow the receiver, and only upon locating the ball make a move to deflect or intercept the pass. But don't think this suddenly gives the offense an unfair edge, as I actually found it more difficult to throw downfield compared to last year's game.
Trust me -- it's a great addition.
Sadly, Few New Tackling Animations
Maybe because it was only the demo, or more likely because it's still EA Sports, there have been really no new tackling animations added to the game. There are the exact same momentum tackles and trip-ups as before, and not that this is a deal-breaker, but it would have been a relief to at least a few more additional tackles.
Massive Defensive Line Improvements
I recall the days when it was a one-man army on the defensive line. Don't worry -- now all four, or three, lineman contribute to put pressure on the quarterback and get to the running back in the backfield. Given that last season it seemed that the defensive line was either dominated by one defensive tackle, or the entire front was entirely non-existent -- it's a huge upgrade.
Receiver Separation -- Believe It
I watched the sample videos that EA Sports pumped out detailing and highlighting the game's shiny new addition of wide receiver separation, but I wasn't buying that it actually worked. I was wrong. It works like a charm.
The more talented the receiver, the more separation the player is able to get from the defender. This will play perfectly into the hands of users who like, and know how to, effectively run the air-raid offense.
That ESPN Ticker is Sharp
We all know how cool it is, and honestly, it's one of the better additions to NCAA 13. The ability to see other game's live scores while you are in the midst of an intense gridiron battle not only gives the presentation a sense of credibility, but also has the potential to add a whole new dynamic to Online Dynasty.
Studio updates have quite the opposite effect -- they're just obnoxious.
It's Just.. So.. Fluid
Everything about the game runs smoothly. From the quarterback drop backs to user interceptions, it seems and feels natural and looks realistic. A quick example was an interception in the endzone against USC -- Matt Barkley threw the ball on a hook route, my corner read it all day, stepped in front of the receiver and bolted down the field 99 yards for a touchdown with no blocky or unresponsive animations. Perfection.
Overall, a Totally Enjoyable Game
Although this is an incredibly small sampling of what this game is going to be shipped out as -- it was damn solid. There have been times where I have played an EA Sports demo (such as Madden '11) where I was flat out disappointed, but this game was just impressive.
Aside from a few small quibbles, EA Sports has managed to build on the success of NCAA 12 and develop NCAA 13 into what will be another huge step forward for the franchise.
Be sure to follow Beard and Stache on Twitter @BeardAndStache, and also Troy @TroyBallards, Like our Facebook page HERE!