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‘NCAA Football 12’ like reality TV, minus cheating

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Updated: October 16, 2011 12:18AM

About the time that Florida State’s Chief Osceola rides out on the stallion, chucks the flaming spear into the ground and sends The Doak into a chopping frenzy, you realize what “NCAA Football 12’’ game designer Ben Haumiller meant about “making the game more realistic this year.’’

“The authenticity of it,’’ Haumiller said in a phone interview, “that’s the biggest thing for us every year. How it looks. More importantly, how it feels.’’

How the latest version from EA Sports looks is stunning, whether it’s the details to shadows and lighting or the new-look 3D grass. How it feels compared with the 11 version is even better.

Thank a new core football engine for that. EA designers went away from an animation where defensive players would get “sucked into a tackle’’ to one that is based on collision.

“With the old system, you could only do so much with the animation,’’ Haumiller said. “Defenders would kind of slide to a spot, and it just wasn’t realistic.’’

The new animation changes that. You can’t take playing defense for granted, knowing the computer will clean up your mistakes. It’s big-boy time now.

The other new looks include a more detailed “Road to Glory’’ in which you can play offense and defense as a high school prospect to increase your worth to colleges. There’s a new “Coaching Carousel’’ where you simply call the plays, sit back and hope the star quarterback stays away from boosters. There’s also new game-day traditions and improved conference customizing for the ever-changing college football landscape.

The swing-and-miss with 12? If they want true realism in the game, then NCAA sanctions and investigations are a necessary evil. The NCAA series actually had them on the PlayStation 2 version, but when the PS3 version came out, the NCAA asked to have the sanctions aspect removed.

That’s just like the NCAA. It can’t stop the problem, so it tries to control the message.

“We had to make that concession even though it is a black eye and something you can’t help hear about,’’ Haumiller said.

At least the issue is being discussed by both sides.

If that aspect is added in, the possibilities are endless. I played in an online dynasty league last season with Jason Goff of WSCR-AM (670) and some of the boys from the old neighborhood in Cleveland. There is no honor among these thieves. So why not allow the choice to run a less-than-clean program but include the heavy consequences that could come with it?

Shame on the NCAA for ducking away from that.

“[The NCAA] doesn’t want the perception that there are things out there that they don’t know about,’’ Haumiller added.

That’s understandable, but I still would like the option to throw on a scarlet sweater vest, lie about some e-mails and still have enough time in the day to make a stop at the local tattoo parlor.

After all, it is about realism.

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