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NCAA Football 11 Review (X360)

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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NCAA Football 11 Review (X360)
EA
Anyone else noticing a pattern with EA Sports games? One year we'll see tons of feature and mode improvements and the next year we'll see tons of gameplay improvements. Well, this year is the "gameplay" year for NCAA Football 11. It isn't much different from '10 as far as features go, but the gameplay and presentation are a definite step up. Without question, NCAA Football 11 is the best college football game on the Xbox 360. Find out all of the details here in our full review.
Game Details

  • Publisher: EA Sports
  • Developer: Tiburon
  • ESRB Rating: "E" for Everyone
  • Genre: Football
  • Pros: Great presentation; solid gameplay; plenty of modes
  • Cons: Occasional hang-ups during gameplay

The features list is pretty similar to what was found in NCAA 10. Exhibition, dynasty, Road to Glory, and all of the usual modes are back. An interesting feature this year is that you can play an online dynasty by yourself without having to play other people. The benefit here is that you can go online on your computer to manage recruiting and other things rather than having to control it all from your Xbox 360. The recruiting process overall in dynasty mode is much more interesting than it has been in past years because there is a lot more depth. You can call up recruits and talk to them about a number of topics or make promises to them to try and get them to come to your school. You can even badmouth your competition to try and show how your school is better. This is especially fun when playing online dynasty with other people, since you can steal recruits away from your friends.

Another change we appreciated in NCAA Football 11 is that achievements are not tied to difficulty level and you can get all of them playing solo. Not a big deal, but we noticed.

All in all, there isn't much to complain about in terms of features and modes. There aren't dramatic changes over last year, but the little improvements do have an impact.

Gameplay

EA
The gameplay is where you'll find the most improvement. Everything just seems tighter and better put together. The running game is better because the blocking is better. The A.I. runs better routes. The defensive A.I. also does a great job of keeping your QB under pressure. You really have to fight for every yard. A big improvement is that there aren't any too many fumbles / too many interceptions / too many penalty problems like in years past. Finally, they sorted that out.

One thing I noticed that I really liked is just how wide of a gap there is between the "good" teams and the "bad" teams. With good play calling and a bit of skill, you can still blow the doors off of opponents even with cruddy teams, but it is a lot easier to make things happen with good teams. I never really noticed the difference in previous NCAA games, but it is pretty prominent here.

Another change is the play calling. The game will default to giving you a selection of plays based on the down and distance and field position. This is nice since it puts all the smart "Football 101" plays front and center for novices. Of course, you can also click the right bumper button to switch play calling between formation, specific player, run/pass, and more if you are more experienced and want to try something a little fancier.

All in all, the gameplay is very realistic, very satisfying, and very fun. My only complaint is that I had hang ups a few times per game where the game would just stop moving for a couple seconds before starting up again. Like it was paused for a second, but not really.

Graphics & Sound

The presentation is great all around in NCAA Football 11. The graphics are very nice with detailed stadiums and great weather and lighting effects. On the field, the player models are accurately proportioned and well animated.

The sound is also good overall. Nothing spectacular as you can only really go so far with sports games - on field action sounds right, college fight songs are included, etc. - but what is here is excellent. The commentary from Brad Nessler and Kirk Herbstreit is solid, but the absence of Lee Corso is notable. Corso brought an excitement and energy that is sorely missing this year.

Bottom Line

EA
In the end, NCAA Football 11 is a great game of football that stands as the best college pigskin experience you'll find on the Xbox 360. The features list isn't much different from last year, but little details make all of the difference so we can't complain too much. The gameplay has seen some definite improvements, and is more realistic and satisfying than ever. Everything is tighter and plays more like the product we see on TV every Saturday during the fall than ever before. Presentation is also very sharp and the game looks and sounds quite good. NCAA Football 11 is excellent all around, and I highly recommend it.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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