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EA Sports’ ‘NCAA Football 14’ makes physical improvements

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At times it sounded like being back in Physics 101.

“Mass … size … force of impact … momentum … ‘’ all being thrown around by Ben Haumiller when the NCAA game producer for EA Sports was discussing the Tuesday release of “NCAA Football 14.”

It could have been summed up much easier: When you hit something in this year’s version of the franchise it looks like it hurts.

Are there some downers in the game? Sure. The menu is a bit clunky looking, and the change to recruiting will leave all you Urban Meyer-wannabes thirsting for more details on the incoming players to the program who will someday be arrested, but “NCAA 14” is all about the Infinity Engine and the gameplay. The best the game has ever had.

“It was about improving the physics,’’ Haumiller said in a phone interview. “In the past, it was a pre-canned movement. There were a bank of animations based on angles. If you played the game enough, you would know the outcome of the hit before it happened.’’

Not now.

Ball-carriers move with a more realistic fluidity, the jukes are cleaner, and runners rarely go down on first contact. Jump into a tackler who is upright, get ready to be grabbed in the air and thrown down. More powerful running backs can put a smaller cornerback down with a stiff arm to the face. It’s all there this season.

The major change to the gameplay itself was an improved option. The offensive player now has a better understanding of which defender to read off of.

“We added 30 new option-types in the game,’’ Haumiller said. “People would get frustrated in the past because they didn’t know who would get blocked on options. We wanted it to be something you want to run.’’

The biggest change in Dynasty Mode, besides the recruiting, is the RPG-style coaching tree. Basically, experience points help buff up different aspects of the program, from recruiting to the offensive coordinator. Is it a cheat? Sort of, but there will also be strategy involved, especially if playing against opponents in the Online Dynasty Mode.

The jury is still out on how much this will affect gameplay, but there’s no question it’s interesting.

Finally, “NCAA 14” added the Ultimate Team option, which allows players to build a team with over 1,400 college football greats and growing daily.

According to Haumiller, the franchise made a deal with the NFLPA to use all the current players in the NFL, and are busy landing retired greats like Bo Jackson and Barry Sanders.

“It’s a way for us to celebrate the history of college football,’’ Haumiller said.

Is “NCAA 14” the perfect college football game yet? No, but it’s as close as it’s ever come.

“That’s the challenge every year, to outdo last year,’’ Haumiller said.

Mission accomplished.

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