NCAA Football 12 delivers entertaining, engulfing game experience

Dante Geoffrey

Growing up a fan of the Madden franchise, it was both a small step and a giant leap to switch to NCAA Football 2012 this year.

While there are plenty of gameplay similarities between the two Electronic Arts Sports games, the differences (mainly in the off-the-field modes) are what make some shy away.

In my case, those differences are what intrigued me to forgo the pros and head back to school, and I suggest you do too.

Perhaps it’s because I never played football. Perhaps it’s because I don’t attend a football-crazed school.

Whatever the reason, I am enamored with the awesome college football experience that NCAA Football 2012 offers.

From recruitment to graduation and everything in between, NCAA 2012 is a well-rounded college football experience.

The bread and butter of NCAA 2012 is Dynasty Mode. At the beginning, you are prompted to create your coach. A lot of time can be spent creating this character you will almost never see, but he is the common thread of Dynasty Mode. Once your coach is created you choose what team will hire him. Surprisingly, there are offers from powerhouse schools right from the start, so if you want to win right away, you can.

I chose to build a program from the ground up. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t offer FCS schools (my only real qualm with the game) so I couldn’t turn Sacramento State into perennial BCS champs led by coach Flick Shinbone.

In the Hornets’ place I chose the Kent State Golden Flashes. The Flashes have served admirably as a one-star program in need of my magic touch.

Taking one of the worst Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) teams to a couple Bowl game victories is much more fulfilling than playing as Oregon and speed-optioning your way to a title in your first season.

And while playing the actual games is the whole point, the offseason and recruiting modes are just as fun.

Much time is spent in between games recruiting high school players from around the country. This is where NCAA 2012 offers something that Madden can’t.

If you play as a mid-major school recruiting is where you can turn your program around. Get lucky and steal a couple four-star recruits from Michigan and Ohio State and your team will be infused with young talent and energy, making it easier to get better recruits the following offseason.

Truth be told, I often look at the games as the obligations I have to play through in order to get to the next round of recruiting. The recruiting mode requires some thought and strategy not found in many other sports games.

Also, it’s safer. I’ve never tried to rip my controller in half because a four-star cornerback didn’t like Kent State’s athletic facilities.

On the other (anger-prone) hand, I almost broke a window when a wayward controller took a strange bounce after I spiked it following a failed 4th-and-1 attempt.

If you are not a big college football fan you might be better off with Madden. The gameplay is great in both games and the added fun of playing with recognizable players might make Madden the better option.

Until the NCAA allows personal licensing of its players, the NCAA Football franchise will always suffer from generic players.

But if you don’t mind players with computer-generated names and you’re into the almost-RPG aspects of recruiting, NCAA Football 12 is for you. It has great replay value and cool weekly extras from Xbox Live.

Nine out of my completely made-up 10-point scale.

Dante Geoffrey can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter: @dantegeoffrey.