Game Room: July Roundup

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NCAA Football 13
Photo: Electronic Arts

NCAA Football 13

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Systems: Xbox 360, PS3

NCAA Football 13 is, by most measures, a somewhat iterative release building on last year's substantial overhaul of this dependable franchise. This isn't criticism -- in fact, the game feels more realistic and demands more strategy than ever -- but it might be a little underwhelming to those who purchase the game year after year. The biggest functional change in the game is the passing and receiving mechanism, which requires a much more considered hand than ever before. The days of having a go-to unbeatable play (mine was a split/tight end slant pass play that worked much more often than it should) are probably over, as receivers and pass defenders now have awareness of the ball conditional with their actually turning their heads to be ready for it. It's a simple change, but it dramatically alters the rhythms of the game and makes throwing off-balance while on-the-run a much more dangerous option.

There are tons of new receiving and pitching animations and the addition of automatic quarterback dropbacks to liven things up as well. Small graphics glitches -- including some seen in years past -- pop up, but usually just in cutscenes. For the most part, the on-field action looks phenomenally realistic with smooth tackling animations and only the occasional "Mario running" problems with running backs. Playcalling AI is mostly solid, though the computer isn't always as adept at clock management as a human would be, and invariably will make the occasional head-scratching call.

The always fun Road to Glory RPG-style mode which lets you work your way from college to pros, has added a Matrix-style Reaction Time function that lets you slow down the action during big plays. The new Heisman Mode lets players add former winners, including Doug Flutie, Herschel Walker and Barry Sanders (with more via preorder and demo DLC), to existing teams as well as Road to Glory. NCAA 13 is a huge, well-tuned package with a ton of content here that college football fans are likely to enjoy for months to come, even if the overall effect is mostly an evolution rather than a dramatically new experience.

Score: 9 out of 10

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