As we near the end of August, there are undoubtedly some butterflies flapping in the stomachs of many sports fans. This is particularly true for those who love college football. After all, what is there not to love about the sport? You have games full of passion, school pride, pageantry, and everything else a collegiate game can bring that the professional level cannot. For many gaming fans, the approach of the college football season means another thing as well: the annual release of the NCAA Football series from EA Sports. In the past, this series has received criticism for not changing or improving enough from year to year. Luckily, with the 2011 version, that is not the case at all.
Before diving into the specifics of NCAA 11 on the PS3, let me jump right into a quick conclusion. After playing the game for many years across various consoles, this is by far the best release from the series. There are a few reasons that back up this notion, but let's begin with the first: the look of the game.
When first playing NCAA Football 11, the eyes and mind can be deceived a bit. It actually looks like a real college football broadcast presented on television. If you are a real student of college football, you know that certain schools across the country have special introductions or traditions as their players enter the field. To bring some real authenticity and extra atmosphere to the title, EA decided to replicate these traditions for certain schools.
You can see the University of Miami's players run onto the field through artificial smoke, watch Clemson players tap Howard's Rock as they run downhill to loud roars from the crowd, see Notre Dame players tap the “Play Like a Champion Today” sign outside of their locker room, and more. This addition to the game really gets one hyped up for some NCAA action.
As usual, EA does a great job of replicating stadiums as well, and you will be able to see several of your favorite landmarks in your school's field of play. Weather and sunlight effects are wonderful, and depending on the time of the game, you will see the sun go down, shadow effects change, and more. University bands pump out high-energy beats after big plays to make it sound as if you are in the stadium yourself.
The presentation of the game is outstanding too. Commentary by real-life announcers Kirk Herbstreit and Brad Nessler is fine, but the implementation of ESPN graphics really make it feel like a live broadcast. After long plays you get instant replays that follow the action perfectly. You also get cutaways of players congratulating each other, as well as other typical in-game events.
As for the players themselves, the models are terrific. They look just like the real thing, although some may look a bit amped up on steroids, especially if you are playing the game in HD. If you watch instant replays up close, you will even see player's faces cringe when being tackled, as well as other details that bring them to life. Uniforms are highly authentic, and you have the option to unlock Nike Pro Combat uniforms for several schools such as Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma, LSU, and more. Before the game, you can cycle through different uniform combinations to get just the right look. There is even the option to change up your shoe styles, which adds some real flare to the look of the players.
Although the player models are great, fans in the stands look pretty bland and pixelated from afar. The same can be said for players on the sidelines, who hop up and down like robots. Hopefully EA will fix this next year, but it is not a huge complaint. If you really want even more authenticity, you can download official rosters created by other fans of NCAA 11 to get real names and attributes of players.
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