NCAA Football 11 Review

The slow steps through the locker room. The descent down the stairs toward the field. The tapping of the "Play Like A Champion Today" sign before turning to the gridiron. This is the famous entrance of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. If you’ve only experienced football through a gaming console, you wouldn’t even know what I’m talking about.

That is, until now.

NCAA Football 11 is all about the pre-game pageantry. Teams will rush out onto the field with their fight song blaring through the air, just like in real life. For some teams, like Notre Dame, if they have a famous entrance, it is most likely captured in the game. While it doesn’t add much to the gameplay itself, this nod to what makes college football Saturdays so great is a highlight of what I consider to be the best college football game ever made.

NCAA 2011

EA nailed the pure strategy of football in this year’s game. Opposing defenses will be legitimately fooled by draw plays on third down. The running game is more effective than it’s ever been. A brand new (and welcome) animation makes your receivers smart enough to know where the sideline is, making sideling grabs much more effective. The essence of football is here, and fans will love it.

There are plenty of ways to get your football fix, too. Dynasty and Online Dynasty modes are both back in full swing, so the bragging between friends can continue right from where it left off. Season Showdown mode keeps track of everything you do while playing, giving you a score and ranking you with every other player in the world. TeamBuilder returns, allowing me to continue the Penn Tech Turd Fergusons’ reign of terror in the Big Ten. Road to Glory is back as well, letting you take your created player from high school stud to national icon (oh, and Erin Andrews is back too). You can even add your own soundtrack during games, which means I can finally live my dream of having my team celebrate a td with Dschinghis Khan’s "Moskau." The game will let you play however you want while retaining the core elements of real football, and that balance makes the game that much better.

NCAA Football 2011

Of course, no game being truly perfect, NCAA Football 2011 does have its shortcomings. I didn’t see a penalty flag until the 5th game I’d played, taking away from the enhanced realism. While ND, Clemson, and others have their unique entrances, other teams come out to the same canned animation, making me long for multiple "generic" entrances. Brad Nessler and Kirk Herbstriet, though they are getting better, are still responsible for some pretty shoddy commentary. Most disappointing is that for all the strides EA made in character animations and realistic looks, they still have players just standing around after a play is over, not getting into huddles or reacting to the play at all. It’s something that’s plagued EA football games for a long time now, and I was hoping it might not be as apparent in this game.

Despite these small issues, EA has shown a lot of progress with NCAA Football 11, adding realism where realism was needed (the gameplay), allowing gamers to immerse themselves in pre-game celebrations, and including enough modes to keep the game feeling fresh for a long time. If this is a sign of things to come, Madden NFL 11 should be just as impressive.

If only I didn’t have to stare at Tim Tebow every time I turned the game on…

4 out of 5


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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