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PlayStation 3 Review: NCAA Football 11

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This year, the college football stalwart improves yet again with flawless blending with real world applications and user created content. The real time ESPN interface and online features make the most of battles among the 120 featured schools.

Electronic Arts blurs the line differences between actual games and player games with real time updates and sharp graphics with nice fantasy-type elements. USC fans have no restrictions here. Players can make the high hopes of each promising season a reality.

Pick-up and play fans can try the 1-button, practice and mascot mash up game modes while the enhanced TeamBuilder, new Dynasty Mode, and the largely unchanged Road to Glory, featuring the popular Erin Andrews, offer deeper experiences.

Players navigate through the huge cascading menu design, which includes a season, which also includes the Season Showdown, where player performances translate into bragging rights for his or her chosen school.

Each signed-in controller gets a different user profile instead of the 10 available profile slots in the previous installment. It is amazing players have the time to manage than one profile, but this profile setup ensures players spend more time navigating through the entire experience instead of concentrating on their own multiple teams. This game is deep enough as it is.

Players can still make custom players, but the basic act of creating yourself and friends then adding them to an existing team gets a bit more complicated. Game developers definitely create more defined channels here, which limits some minor freedoms, but, more importantly, prevents an overwhelming and frustrating experience.

The online modes definitely take center stage this year. The new TeamBuilder quickmatch, Season Showdown Leaderboards and Dynasty features have high content ideal for multi-taskers, wanna-be coaches and experienced players. The leader boards, lobbies and quick/custom matches remain while the Dynasty Wire offers new interactive and social opportunities.

Dynasty Wire lets players communicate with friends through messaging, invites, and voice chat options while uploading then sharing gameplay highlights and recordings, which can be automatically archived. Try life as a journalist by writing special blurbs and accompanying stories throughout season then share them online. Manage recruitment activities using an iPhone, PC or even an iPad.

Online multiplayer modes require a PlayStation Network account. Valuable online passes are free with new NCAA Football 11 games. Just enter the code on the top back of the manual. Players with previously played versions can purchase a pass or receive a free one-time, seven-day trial. These online passes provide additional benefits like recruiting reports in the Dynasty Mode.

The smooth dual stick controls boast improved motions, especially in the running game. Defensive and offensive button movements stay the same except for the deletion of the abandon kick/punt button on special teams after the snap (L2) and run moves. Players must now move the right stick in a downwards half-circle motion instead of a circular motion to spin on running plays.

Additional run moves also include high steps and shields from contact to protect the ball from strips and fumbles. Spikes and fake spikes are gone while the hurry up action remains. The improved no huddle offense lets players choose plays quickly without skipping a beat, which saves time compared to alternative methods like calling audibles.

The camera also covers more receivers this time, which helps players execute those challenging pass plays better. The Real Assignment AI and running movements feel more realistic. Offenses have flashy names like pistol and air raid while the pre-game school traditions enhance fun NCAA football aspects.

Visiting teams have a huge disadvantage in communication when the home crowd gets involved. Huge stadiums and big teams get large home field advantages. Players can also try to “ice the kicker” and gain play-calling advantages. This game has a gold mine of options and customizations for players to pursue. Players can add up 50 of their own sound files to 20 different game scenarios. Players can always adjust the game play to fit a preferred style like lowering the initially high injury settings.

Graphics still rule the experience, but have plenty of improvement room. The tip toeing receivers know the sidelines well, but clipping and frustrating CPU scenarios still exist. Player close-up visuals diminish at times such as pixelated fans outlines in the background of a player featured near the sidelines. It would be great to see mud on the uniforms and torn-up turf more.

Weather effects like rain provide sharp enhancements plus they do not adverse affect performance levels. This high quality installment gives players control and realism with all the appealing aspects of college football so players are not left in the cold.

NCAA Football 11 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and Mobile Phone.


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