NCAA Football 12 introduces team-specific pregame festivities, improves the look of stadiums' tens of thousands of fans and gives fans Madden-style textured field surfaces.

Hits, tackles and catches have been thoroughly revamped and are now better timed, fluid and more realistic. That said, you'll still see the occasional glitch that prompts a "What the heck was that?"

Penalties in games are few, which doesn't seem to be the case in the real college contests on TV.

Perhaps it's odd that the biggest draw of a college-football game is playing high school games, but the revamped Road to Glory is the game's most enjoyable mode. Create a character, pick a main position (and possibly another slot on the opposite side of the ball) and set out to gain the attention of college scouts. Your character won't begin his career as an instant star; he'll have to earn his way up the high school depth chart into a top college recruit.

As your character performs well, he'll earn the interest of some modest colleges. Keep it up, and more higher-profile schools will develop an interest. Rank the schools to customize your path into a sought-after scholarship.

Who knows? Maybe EA next year will release High School Football 13 to allow you to build your character in middle school or city recreation leagues with the goal of earning a high-school roster spot.

RATING E for everyone

PLOT College (and high school) football

DETAILS Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, $60

BOTTOM LINE Catching up to John Madden

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