Closer to that Heisman
NCAA Football 14 is the most fun I’ve ever had with a college football game. Granted, my only other experience with a college football game is NCAA Football 08, also on Xbox 360. I’ve played Madden here and there, and wasn’t very impressed. So I guess you could say that NCAA Football 14 is the most fun I’ve ever had with any football game, period. Take that for what you will as we dive into what exactly makes NCAA Football 14 more entertaining than the rest of its kind.
The presentation is sleek and easy on the eyes. EA has attempted some visual continuity between its football franchises, and that shows with NCAA 14 when compared with the recently released Madden NFL 25. That being said, Madden has significantly more game modes and content than NCAA, even though EA sells the games for the same price.
The core football experience here is simple and fun. There are many options for players to adjust the game to their own difficulty level. There is even a one button mode for those completely new to the game that just want to play a game of football and not have to worry about who the best person to throw the ball to will be with a pass.
Both the difficulty level of the offense and defense can be adjusted. This means that those that are having a bit of trouble with running the ball down the field, yet are great on their defense, can find the perfect balance to work with so that they can alleviate frustration while also gaining a level of challenge that they are seeking.
The selection of football teams is quite impressive. I think basically every state is represented, with some states having multiple teams. I noticed some omissions of teams that were included in previous entries, but I am not quite sure why that is. The available venues are even more exhaustive, and while there isn’t a lot of visual differences between the stadiums that can be selected, it’s still really cool that EA went through all the trouble of stuffing all these stadiums into the game, especially when, in reality, people are probably only going to pick the stadium of their favorite team.
Jumping into an online game is fast and easy, but I thought the multiplayer was most engaging when playing locally. There are plenty of local multiplayer options, and none of them disappoint. There is just something fun about playing a game of football with a buddy on a couch, screaming and yelling as interceptions and turnovers occur. Those precious seconds that each play is made out of is where most of the enjoyment comes from, and that rush is addicting.
The multiplayer is just better than in other games. The games seem to move at a quicker pace. Replays are in the background while plays are selected. Speaking of plays, previous football games had an issue during local multiplayer in which players were able to see which play was selected by their opponent, and then choose a play that would counteract it, so to speak. NCAA Football 14 fixes this issue by simply having buttons appear above each play, so all it takes is a press of a button to choose the wanted play, and your opponent is none the wiser.
The game claims to be “better with Kinect sensor” on the front cover, but don’t even bother with Kinect. Similarly to my experiences with other EA games that make such claims (the only exception I can think of being Mass Effect 3), the Kinect voice commands in NCAA Football 14 are a complete bust. They serve only to frustrate and confuse rather than to actually enhance the gameplay experience. Better with Kinect? Hardly. Stick to the controller.
NCAA Football 14 is just a little light on actual game modes, which is disappointing. Like I said, the game has significantly less to do than Madden, even though NCAA 14 is clearly the superior overall game this year. Hell, some of the game modes are just copied from Madden games, so that’s also a bummer. In future installments, I want EA Sports to get more creative with their annual release offerings. Let’s see crazy mini-games accompany the series football. Let’s see modes that push the envelope and really do something to put the next wave of annual release titles over the top.
NCAA Football 14 is still the best football game that I have ever played. Of course, I haven’t played a whole lot of football games, but it’s still an overall great experience. The multiplayer is the highlight and an absolute blast. The content is light compared to Madden, but NCAA Football 14 is far more entertaining than the big dog this year.
Tested on Xbox 360. Final Score: 8.0/10