Back at the end of June, the NCAA announced what I have been waiting years to hear – there is going to be a playoff system for NCAA football (okay, it's not necessarily how I would have designed the playoff, but it's a step in the right direction). Just about two weeks later, EA released their newest NCAA football game, NCAA Football 13. Now, with the new rules not going into effect until the 2014 season, there was never going to be a moment when EA changed up the way their game works this time out, but the changes still make NCAA 13 feel outdated despite being brand new (and I shudder to think what will happen next year if they don't change the rules in the title).
So, right off and game mechanics aside, due to my obsession with the notion that NCAA football needs a playoff system, I would hesitate before buying the game. But, that's kind of unfair and completely based on my sense of the right way to do things in the real world and not anything else.
Let us then venture into the actual game mechanics themselves. EA puts out on a yearly basis the greatest football game in existence, a game so monolithic that no one else bothers to make a different NFL game (save for the occasional Blitz) anymore – it's just not worth it. Complain all you want about the tweaks in how Madden plays from year to year and this type of passing system versus that type of passing system, Madden is brilliant and tends to get reviewed on a curve (is it worth the upgrade, are the new features that good, have they fixed that damn animation that has bothered you so over the past six years, etc.). In Madden, the amount of control you as a player have over the members of your team before and after the snap is great. That same level of control doesn't feel present in NCAA 13. In comparison to Madden, NCAA 13 gameplay feels almost dumbed-down. Unquestionably the true college game is more freewheeling and is, for lack of a better term, more arcade-like than the pro game, but that feels like an effect of other factors and not purposeful. It is, in short, not something I want to see in the videogame version, especially if it is done by making me feel as though I have less control of what my guys are doing on the field.