Year in and year out, EA Sports continues to pump out improved versions of its tried-and-true sports franchises, and this year is no exception with the arrival of "NCAA Football 13," available tomorrow (July 10) for $60 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Though not as big an innovation as last year's "NCAA Football 12," this collegiate favorite continues to push the franchise forward with a number of new tweaks and additions.
With new quarterback animations, the elimination of those annoying “blind swats” by defensive players and plenty of hot route options, you’ll have no trouble hooking up strong passes and runs for an end zone completion – unless you’re playing as an underperforming team, of course. (You’re bound to find one of many NCAA favorite teams within the game here.)
There are times when the opposing team's defenders are a bit too smart in reading your receiver routes, but overall this is a smooth-playing game of football.
New this year is a Heisman Mode, where you can play as one of 12 winners from previous years, guiding them through a championship season. It’s good to see Barry Sanders and a few others in their classic uniforms again.
Modes making a return here include the Road To Glory, where you guide a player from high school to a college career, and Online Dynasty, where you can challenge friends through Xbox Live or PlayStation Network to contests and customized seasons.
The graphics do show some signs of strain here and there (mainly with repeated camera angles and weak-looking crowds from a distance), but the player animations are exciting, the replays resemble those from TV broadcasts and the authentic fields and celebrations for each team are quite dazzling. [ NBA 2K13 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 ]
On the audio side, Brad Nessler and Kirk Herbstreit once again provide a good commentary for each play, though sometimes their timing can be off. The other effects, including rambunctious crowd noise and dynamic themes for each school, capture the spirit of college football just about perfectly.
While "NCAA Football 13" can’t quite innovate as much as last year's game-changing "NCAA Football 12," there’s no question it's still one of the better games in town, especially with its robust content and fun gameplay. After all, you need something to play until "Madden NFL 13" comes out next month.
RATING: 3 / 4
Follow Robert Workman on Twitter at @thedcd.