Front Office Football 2004 Review (PC)
“Front Office Football 2004 “is the newest edition of the front-running NFL simulation by the same name. The game, created by Solecismic Software, is considered the best football simulation on the market. But did the team at Solecismic upgrade the game enough to warrant another purchase?
For those who are new to the series, here’s the gist of the game. You’re the owner of an NFL team and have power over everything a real owner would have power over. “Front Office Football” doesn’t come with an NFLPA license - so it does not have the NFL teams or the players. However, there are many web sites that are dedicated to this series, and fan-made rosters are often available. You can choose to have the default rosters for all of the teams or perform a “Fantasy Draft”, where you’ll draft your team pick by pick. You can also choose to have the player’s personalities affect their individual play and the team’s play. Thus, your team’s players will have to get along with one another for you to succeed in this game.
The season plays out just like in real life: a five-week preseason with a 17-week regular season. Users can make roster moves, set up their depth charts, and receive scouting and training reports from his staff. Do you think that your tickets are too cheap? Raise them! You can raise luxury box fees and seat prices for the different levels of your stadium. Many different stats are tracked and sortable for easy viewing. The game also keeps track of who is the hottest “youngster” and “most intelligent” player, etc. Career statistics are new this year, and this is a must for any text-based game. Users will want to see how a player has progressed over his career. After all, if we weren’t stat junkies, why would we be playing a text-based game?
The games are run using text-based engine and interface. If you choose to coach your team, you can input your play and then the result is shown. The interface has a scoreboard that shows the score, time of game, rushing and passing yards for each team and a line that gives up-to-date stats on players involved in the previous play. For those that don’t wish to coach every single play, the game has a situation manager to “lead” your coach. For example, when you are up by seven or more points in the fourth quarter, you’ll want your coach to run the ball. The situation-specific game plan allows you to do that. Are you down by two touchdowns? Start airing out the ball! This works very well and the coach doesn’t try to go out on a limb very often.
When the season concludes, it’s time for the real part of an owner’s job. You’ll need to sign free agents and draft the future players for the franchise. The game uses a draft combine report where you can see the strength and “40” times of all the players involved in the draft. Looking for a late-round intelligent player that might blossom? Look up the guy’s IQ. The salary cap is brought into consideration in this phase, as well. Do you really want to push the cap to its limits before you know what kind of draft picks will land at your door? After all the moves have been made during those spring months, it’s time to devise your training camp schedule. Your training camp schedule will affect ratings, potential, and also team cohesion (if you choose to play with that option turned on).
Multiplayer is new to “Front Office Football” this year, but unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to see it in action. At this point, it looks like the multiplayer is working well judging from the “Front Office Football” message boards, although there still seem to be some minor bugs left to chase out.
A text-based game’s interface will always make or break a game in this genre. “Front Office Football” has made everything “linkable”; making it very easy to get from different parts of the game to another in an instant. The game is very easy on the eyes and I feel no effect after playing the game for extended periods of time. I would like to see some improvements to the in-game screen for the future. I don’t know if a 2-D engine is possible, but something other than an oversized scoreboard would be nice.
There isn’t any audio in this game - none. While I’ve only seen audio in text-based baseball and soccer games, it would be nice to get some crowd noise or whistles in the game. What about some booing after a penalty on the home team or a raucous cheer after the home team scores a touchdown? This is another part of the game that has plenty of potential for future years.
Multiplayer functionality alone makes this game worth the purchase. However, the team over at Solecismic has added a few improvements to the game engine and franchise to more than warrant this purchase. Just try the demo (located on their site) and you’ll be hooked. This game gets a great score, but I refuse to put it into my “Hall of Fame” until I hear some audio in the game. Hey, I need some atmosphere!