Back to the Grindstone
Another year, another NCAA game. Fortunately, I am a college football fan (S Carolina Gamecocks for life, yo) so it does make looking at these games in a somewhat even-handed fashion challenging.
I suppose we should first focus on the new addition, the Heisman Challenge. With that, you can put one of 10 Heisman winners (more are available as pr-eorder bonuses/DLC) on any team and try to win the Heisman by beating their stats from their Heisman season. The list of Heisman winners, overall, is good with a few head scratchers (Andre Ware? Desmond Howard?). The game has a definite vibe of the NBA 2K11's Jordan Challenge mode --- though it is dramatically easier here and they didn't go as all-in on the feature as 2K did (with such things as differing visual filters, etc for the games). Thing is, when you're playing the mode, it doesn't feel appreciably different than the regular game. I play South Carolina and already have a starting HB who is a 97 ranking --- Herschel Walker doesn't feel much more dominant, but in college, the man was a man amongst boys. Barry Sanders doesn't feel like a world beater, either. They don't make the players feel special or better than anybody else on the field. The game plays fine, but having you play with their original teams would've been a better option (true, also more labor intensive, but if you're going to do this, go all out).
The core game still handles fine. The running works great. The passing game still has the problem of DB's being able to outwork WRs to get to balls. LB's are no longer insanely difficult defenders of the pass, but your receiving corps doesn't seem too key to fight for every ball. The 360's age is becoming noticeable because the gag hiccups frequently. At least twice a game, you will be doing a run or trying to sack the QB and the game will briefly freeze before the play continues. The freezes don't seem to be in association with loads or anything, but they are a constant issue. It is annoying, but the game is still fun in spite of it.
Online is becoming irritating. OK, the game itself plays online fine. Not much lag (in fact, the game froze up for me in single player) and the fun is still there. However, I used the free trial to play the online for 2 days. I debated buying the full online pass --- but it asks you about it every single time you boot up the game. I don't like rewarding a company for irritating the hell out of me. Just saying "You know, you can do this if you want" is sufficient. I didn't pursue the online dynasty to any great degree, but what I played seemed enjoyable. You can make your own stories online and comment on them, you can control the starting jobs of guys in your dynasty (i.e, you can decide that none of them can start as the head coach of an elite school).
The game's core is solid. The technical glitches are a irritating and the Heisman Challenge seems like a good idea without the full effort needed to make it really work. You cannot import your Draft Class to Madden, but I've heard that is an issue with Madden, so I can't really hold against this.