Advanced Review: NCAA Football 13

13 is a special number this year. 13; the namesake of this year’s NCAA Football, but also 13 is the number of uniforms that have been digitized for the Oregon Ducks and their high flying offense! That’s right, with 13 different pre-set uniforms for the Ducks they lead their way into a ranked four position atop the preseason charts in NCAA 13. That’s not all that’s changed with this newest edition of the long-standing franchise. There have been various tweaks, pokes, and prods to this years graphics and animations, but it comes also with the addition of a new mode: Heisman Challenge.

This new Heisman Challenge mode lets you step into the shoes of ten different Heisman winners and play as them–on your favorite team–for a whole season to try and best their own candidacy for the Heisman trophy. Armed with a new reaction time feature–in Heisman Challenge and Road to Glory modes–you can set out on your conquest with a plethora of new throwing and catching animations as well as a slightly overhauled control scheme. Now, like never before, you can see your rise to become a College Football Legend impeded by new difficulty settings in Road to Glory.

This additions do not come without consequences. In making the game better and more realistic, now like never before, you actually must learn to play defense. It’s not all about the high powered offenses and scoring 100 points a game. You need to be aware of the offenses and make the receivers be distracted and run the wrong routes if you are to succeed in stopping your opponent with ruthless efficiency. This also makes running the offense harder and more crucial to have good decision-making skills. If you don’t set before you throw you have a large chance to throw it away or–even worse–an interception.

Graphically there isn’t much to differ from last years, or at least not enough to warrant a buy on graphics alone. There are some obvious lighting improvements, and of course there is the addition of new game day traditions from some schools that were snubbed last year. The rosters are still varied enough to have most of the key players on your team have the right stats and numbers from real life, of course EA would never admit to copying people, but they’re there. With a playoff being instated in 2014 this may be one of the last times you’ll get to see the BCS Bowls in their entirety in a video game. Last, but not least, the majority of your favorite features have returned such as the Mascot Mash Up, Online and Offline Dynasties, and Road to Glory. The only reason to really buy this game is the new Heisman Challenge mode, and of course the new rosters and team uniforms. I’ll leave the decision up to you if it’s worth the buy, but I rate this game a solid 3.9/5.

In NCAA 13, on both sides of the ball, you will be tested more than ever before as blitz’s rain down upon you and short, accurate, throws rules the day. Running the ball is essential and turnovers come at a high cost. In order to get the true experience of NCAA 13, and to fill the void of a summer without College Football, you can pick it up on store shelves on July 10th. Until then I’ll keep your seat warm and Win the Day.

Halo 4: Reservations and Expectations

If you can find me a single gamer in the world who has never heard of the name ‘Halo’ or their own language’s equivalent of the word, Masterchief would make a personal appearance at that individual’s home, and educate him on UNSC Spartan Protocal.

Halo, the game franchise which took the Xbox from being a second rate console to the most talked about gaming system, has been an anchor for modern gaming, especially in the realms of Online Multiplayer and First Person Shooters. With five games, a book series and several shows, it has become one of the most influential icons in video-game history. After creating Halo 3: ODST, Bungie threw in the towel and claimed that the series was ending. However, a few years later, after the release of successful offshoots of the series, 343 Industries, the makers of Halo Reach, announced that the series was not yet done.

A brief teaser trailer was shown at E3 2011, revealing that Halo 4 was in production. We all know that 343 is a capable company, as Halo: Reach was a great success, however some wonder if bring Master Chief out of stasis may be a mistake. With the Covenant defeated, and the Flood destroyed, what more does the story of John 117 have to offer for us?

The Story that we Know

The teaser trailer revealed little and less about Halo 4, save for the fact that it is indeed a sequel with Master Chief as the main character. However, this year after numerous leaks and announcements by 343 industries, we have a better idea of what is in store for us with Halo 4. One year after the E3 announcement, this years E3 conference treated us with a live-action trailer for some context, as well as a chunk of sexy game play.

If you are too lazy to wait for the trailers to load, here is a brief synopsis of Halo 4. Master Chief is presumed to have perished with the last halo ring; the UNSC marks him as ‘MIA’ to keep with tradition (There is a saying: “Spartans never die, they only go missing in action”). Even though earth is shattered by the loss of their heroic savior, they know that they must push on, and so the UNSC commissions a disarmed warship, known as the ‘Infinity’, is sent into the unexplored regions of space with the mission of colonizing uncharted worlds through peaceful means.

Of course you all know it wouldn’t be a Halo game without it’s healthy chunk of violence!

Something goes drastically wrong on Infinity’s journey, causing the ship to crash on an unknown planet (later revealed as Forerunner world ‘Requiem’), which also happens to be where Master Chief is located. As Master Chief watches, a gigantic mysterious metallic orb rises behind him, and takes off after the crashing vessel, beckoning Master Chief to give chase. That is when we see the covenant. Most people grimaced at this part. The most common thought in gamer’s minds was “What the hell, didn’t we already kick their asses?” Well don’t worry my friends, 343 has much more in store for us than Elites, Grunts and Jackals.

As he gets closer to the crash site, Master Chief is spotted by a scouting party. While Master Chief out the bulk of the scouts, he witnesses an elite get incinerated as if he was nothing more than a noob grunt. That’s right, we have a new enemy in Halo 4, one that makes the Covenant Elites look like play things. Wielding forerunner weaponry, these metallic beetle like creatures seem to prove to be a challenge in a fight. They can teleport and dish out as many hits as they take.

Known as the Prometheans, these beings were members of the highest rank in the Forerunners’ Warrior-Servants caste. They are mentioned before, in the Anniversary edition of Halo: Combat evolved and Halo Forerunner novel saga. Due to a disagreement with the builders, the Prometheans are cast from the council, which is why we do not see them until Halo 4.

Along with the appearance of the Prometheans, there are rumors of other Spartans in campaign mode. Rumor has it that these Spartans are from the new Spartan-IV program, and are assigned to the Infinity for its new mission. Dubbed as Majestic Sqaud, the Spartan-IVs will be seen in the campaign, as well as be the central focus of the new multiplayer form, ‘Spartan Ops’. This combination of a new enemy and an old story gives the new campaign a promising edge.

Multiplayer

Most of the information on Halo 4’s multiplayer came from leaks, such as the leaked multiplayer-beta footage. This multiplayer looks much different from its predecessors, as we see new armor, weapons and maps. While there are some familiar halo elements, the new textures cause most to sooner assume that this multiplayer belonged to some other space oriented FPS. 343 is playing at a dangerous game here, with so many new features added to the game that most played with die hard loyalty. Will the new fans like it?

As Halo was made famous for its great multiplayer experience, most gamers are critical on the footage that has been released for the multiplayer, however the scales are tipped towards positive feedback for the new multiplayer systems, which include familiar features such as ‘Slayer’ as well as new features like ‘Spartan Ops’, which will replace ‘Fire fight’ which is seen in Halo: Reach. Halo 4’s multiplayer promises to be an integrating and enthralling new experience for gamers (old and new).

Reservations

Multiplayer looks just as promising as the single player campaign, and with the integration of the two through Majestic squad, 343 is welding Halo 4 into a great game. However, there is a catch to this greatness, as 343 industries has announced that gamers will either need 8 GB of free space on the X-box hard drive, or an 8 GB USB in order to use the multiplayer settings. WTF 343, really? 8 Gigs?  What the hell do you guys need 8 gigs for? This had better be worth it!

Anyway, Halo 4 does look enticing. Maybe enticing enough for me to buy a new hard drive. Look for the game in stores in the distant future; it is scheduled to hit shelves on November 6th, 2012. Until then, satisfy yourself with another teaser trailer that the game released recently:

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