Preview: NCAA adds a little pomp, circumstance

June 19, 2011

This year’s sports game: just like last year’s sports game. Right? That’s the prevailing wisdom, anyway. It’s true that annual titles recycle a lot of content, and some years it’s just not much of a step up.

With NCAA Football 12, this is not one of those years.

The series has started to come into its own lately, after years of being a modified version of last year’s Madden. It can’t beat out the king; there’s just not the money in it. So rather than mimic its big brother, the team has focused on what makes college football a distinct thing. This year, they’re adding fully-animated mascots and pre-game traditions for as many schools as they can, and with the authentic fields getting another coat of detail and realism, you can really start to feel like you’re there. (After all, for most playing as their alma mater, they know exactly what that feels like.)

We love when a game’s a game, though, and for those who may not want the same on-field experience they’ve always had, the NCAA team is adding Coaching Carousel mode. Where most games have a mode now focusing on a player’s career, that just isn’t that in-depth for college. (You’d be limited to four seasons, after all, and probably fewer if you’re good.) In Coaching Carousel, you can work your way up from a coordinator at a low-tier school to the big time. Though you don’t have to! You can guide the WAC’s worst offense to the BCS if that’s what you want. We’re intrigued by a mode like this, but with previous coach-simulation efforts like NFL Head Coach, we can’t help but be a bit wary.

The good thing is that we don’t have to wait long. NCAA Football 12 releases July 12.