Last year EA Sports introduced the Infinity Engine (real-time physics) in Madden NFL 13. But the NCAA team decided not to implement the Infinity Engine in NCAA Football 13 and wait for NCAA Football 14 instead. I think that decision has paid off, because Infinity Engine 2.0 is a lot smoother and you can notice a clear difference between Madden 13 and NCAA 14. When I played Madden 13, I had to turn the gameplay speed down to slow so the player collisions wouldn’t be as wild. I have not had to adjust the game speed at all in NCAA 14. Infinity Engine 2.0 is a lot tighter and makes for a better experience in NCAA 14.
The running game is also greatly improved in NCAA 14. The main reason for this is improved blocking by the offensive linemen. It’s nice to break into open space with your running back and see your lead blocker actually pick up the guy he is supposed to block. I’ve had some great runs already where linemen get out in front and make the proper block. Now, there are still some missed blocks, but that’s realistic because every block isn’t picked up perfectly in real football. Offensive line blocking has always been a big issue for me, and it’s nice to finally see some improvement in that area. Not only does your offensive line block better, the receivers downfield will make key blocks as well.
The game will be more of a challenge this year on Heisman level as it seems AI receivers easily get open on most plays. The AI receivers’ ability to get open, combined with the improved blocking, will make for a lot of shootouts this year. You might want to look into adjusting the sliders if the scores start to get a little too ridiculous in your dynasty.
Another big addition to the NCAA franchise this year is Ultimate Team. Ultimate Team has been a staple in EA Sports games like FIFA, Madden and NHL for several years. Now Ultimate Team has made its way to NCAA using a combination of classic college players like Bo Jackson and Barry Sanders, along with current NFL players in their college days, like B.J. Raji and A.J. Hawk. For those who like to play Ultimate Team, I’m sure this is a welcomed addition. I’ve never been a big Ultimate Team player, so I’ll be spending a majority of my time in Online Dynasty.
Interview with NCAA Football 14 Producer Christian McLeod
Online Dynasty, and Offline Dynasty, will have a few changes as well. Recruiting has been completely overhauled this year with a new, quicker format. The phone call format is gone and it has been replaced by a point system. You assign points to a recruit and you can adjust the amount of points from week to week, based on how far ahead you are. The nice part is that you don’t have to reassign the points every week. This makes for a much quicker recruiting process, which was the goal of the NCAA team. I must admit, at first, I did not like this new recruiting system when I heard about it. But it is starting to grow on me. I still like the old system better, but this new system is a lot quicker. And speaking of quicker, the offseason recruiting has been cut down from five weeks to two weeks. This is great for online dynasties.
Also new to Dynasty Mode this year is Coaching Skills. As you play the game, you’ll earn XP for reaching certain goals: scoring a touchdown, holding your opponent to under 100 yards rushing, beating a top-5 team, etc. As you level up, you can unlock attributes in the coaching tree for your head coach, your coordinators, and recruiting. This will help your players on the field and your ability to recruit. It’s somewhat similar to the coaching XP system in Madden 13’s Connected Careers.
This year’s NCAA title is a solid one. It’s nice to have more of a challenge from the AI and the improved blocking is something that I’m very pleased with. I’m looking forward to see what NCAA has planned for the next generation. But this generation has been fun.
Score: 8 out of 10
NCAA Football 14 Gameplay: Illinois vs. Nebraska