By Robert Workman
Video Game Reviews
9:30 AM EDT, September 30, 2013
There's something about the atmosphere of college football that the NFL wishes it could capture.
For those people who are avid college football fans, EA Sports has you covered once more with "NCAA Football 14." This latest edition to the franchise has a few vital changes that are sure to get attention from long-time players, but for the most part, it remains unchanged. Passing and running downfield still feels as natural as it's ever been, and guiding your team to a championship in the Road to Glory is still a lot of fun.
Still, as great as it plays, and as worthwhile as some of these changes are, I couldn't help but feel there's a genuine lack of innovation this time around -- like a senior running back who continues to score but just doesn't have the same spring in his step. Maybe it's time for EA Sports to bump up its game.
Gameplay clicks as it always has. Setting up pass plays is still very cool, though, honestly, it comes down to the efficiency of your passer and receivers. If they suck, well, prepare for a lot of fumbled balls. The running game is razor sharp, as you can brush off or juke past defenders while sprinting for the goal line. And with the new Madden engine implemented into the game, it comes across more realistic than ever when it comes to tackling.
However, I wish more was done with the game graphically. Some of the effects are cool, like a player diving over a pile into the end zone, but others need some work, like player models and a few unfortunate glitches, which a timely patch could certainly fix.
I probably could've done without the Nike Skills Trainer mode. It's a decent tutorial system, but some of the scenarios leave you feeling a bit scrutinized, like when it comes to passing into double coverage.
Dynasty Mode has gone through some changes with its new recruiting system, which actually gives you a fair chance to assign points and catch key prospects without going to the extent of groveling or offering gifts. In addition, you can also level up your coaching skills, seeking improvement on the field. The only thing is that you'll have to go through a LOT of menus in order to access the best features, and that's something players won't have patience for when they want to hit the field. This is best recommended for the pros who want to get peak performance out of every aspect of their team. Otherwise, you won't miss much.
"NCAA Football 14" continues to lead the pack as far as online sessions are concerned. You can connect to matchups easily and track your stats over the course of the season, eventually working your way into a championship. Add to that the probability of unlocking some sweet new Ultimate Team cards -- a newbie for this series -- and you've got a game that'll keep you hooked well into the forthcoming NCAA season. Do yourself a favor and track down the Bo Jackson card. Because Bo still knows football.
The in-game sound is still pretty good, but there are notable problems. Songs like "Seven Nation Army" were a pleasure to hear, but really, I got tired of the same old battle themes playing over and over again with each touchdown. They should mix things up there. Also, the announcing between Kirk Herbstreit and Brad Nessler seems dry in spots, especially when they're playing catch-up to the current on-field plays.
"NCAA Football 14" isn't necessarily a bad game, it's just one that shows its age in certain areas, like its underused areas and problematic visuals. However, if you can tolerate these slight flubs, you'll find a deep, rewarding college football experience that's a must for fans and that's also worth a look for casual players. Besides, something has to hold you over before "Madden NFL 25" stomps onto the scene next month, right?
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