First Details on NCAA 11 EmergeS

EA Sports gave its first exclusive look at (and first screengrab, above) NCAA Football 11 to ESPN, and the first details emerging about the game are ones sharpening the game's visual authenticity.

In terms of actual gameplay, so far only the return of formation substitutions (a feature on previous-generation versions of the game) changes what you're able to do afield. The other details EA's sharing right now are largely cosmetic.

They include: dynamic helmet numbers, for teams featuring them. This is really only a concern for Alabama, whose helmet emblem is the player's number (and then, of course any created teams that use this option). Crimson Tide fans are not, however, an inconsequential constituency. While in replays the helmet numbers appear once you zoom in close enough, in real time gameplay the helmets have been left blank. The new game will cope better with that.

Other details? Different sleeve lengths; hand warmers, towels, knee braces and other equipment; on-field officials who have enough sense to get out of the way (no glitching the defensive back up against the back judge.) Gang tackles based on the Pro-Tak system introduced in Madden NFL 10. And, should a dynasty team switch conferences, its onfield conference logo will also change. Considering all the talk about the Pac-10 and Big Ten potentially raiding from the Mountain West or Big XII, this is important.

Yes, very little of that has to do with how you play the game, only how you see it. But I scarcely believe these will be the only changes to EA Sports' college football game. I suspect we'll be hearing more about the gameplay upgrades as we approach the NFL Draft, which typically kicks off the hype cycle for NCAA Football.

'NCAA Football 11': First Look [ESPN.com]