OS Scores Explained Front Office Football Seven Overview (PC)
Deep Text Sim; Accurate statistics and ratings; Fills a gaming need.
Dated interface and graphics; Steep Learning curve; Menus could be organized better.
Bottom Line
One of the few, and quite likely the best, professional football text sims on the market.
out of 10
Front Office Football Seven REVIEW

Front Office Football Seven Review (PC)

For all the hype Madden and the NFL gets each year, it's surprising that there are very few pro football text sims available. Even those available don’t get much press.

I’m not sure why, either. Football is as ingrained in statistics as baseball, and there are multiple quality baseball text sims produced each year. American football is more popular here in the states than football (soccer), yet there are at least two annual soccer sims that regularly get top billing on Steam.

However, for whatever reason, finding a football text sim is difficult. Perhaps the most “mainstream” was the NFL Head Coach series, produced for consoles by EA. But there’s been another option quietly gaining a following among football fans for over a decade: Front Office Football. The seventh iteration of of FOF was just released by the small company Solecismic Software; will Front Office Football 7 fill the pro football text sim niche?


As a text sim, you are put in charge of the daily operation of a professional football team, handling GM and coaching duties such as setting ticket prices, managing depth charts, and calling plays. Nearly every duty shared by either of those team roles is represented in some way through menus, text, and spreadsheets.

Front Office Football 7 attempts to simplify these responsibilities by breaking a year into phases: Staff management, Free Agency, Draft, Late Free Agency, Training Camp, Pre-Season, Season, and Playoffs. These phases are further subdivided, but basically you are guided through the season in a logical progression.

Finances and player ratings play an important part in the proceedings, perhaps more so than other text sims. There’s a nice emphasis on player knowledge (formations, etc) and personality. Even the end of season coaching carousel is represented through a “staff draft,” which, though not entirely realistic in form, adequately abstracts the myriad of coaching changes that take place each year.

In-game, the coaching options are staggering. You can call plays using a relatively streamlined screen, adjusting individual positions and assignments. For all of its complexity, however, it’s pretty easy to get a handle on how to manage an offense and/or defense. However, because of the amount of options, expect games in which you call ever play to take a significant amount of time.

While I’m not the world’s biggest football expert, I do follow the NFL pretty regularly; I could not find any significant aspect of the game that isn’t somehow represented in Front Office Football 7.


Like many text sims, there is no graphical representation of players on the field; the action is handled through menus and simulation screens.

In-game, your competitions take place on a screen that looks like a scoreboard, complete with field markers and some basic stats. All “front office” stuff occurs in one of three main menus: Simulation, Roster, and Depth Chart/Game Plans. To be honest, these menus would benefit from some reorganization, as it will take you a while to figure out where exactly everything is located.

The Depth Chart/Game Plan menu alone is cluttered with almost 40 individual items, from formation usage to specific team depth charts (Nickel Formation, Offensive Line, etc.).

This speaks to the largest problem with Front Office Football: its graphical interface. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this game looks like something from the late 1990s. From clunky pixel-heavy icons to low-res background pictures, this game’s visual identity and user interface really belies it’s statistical accuracy and depth.

It’s hard to fault the small (one-man?) operation at Solecismic for skimping on visuals in a text sim; it’s not crucial that this game looks good. But at various points, the organization and lack of visual feedback cause some frustration for me. As one who has played the very spartan but extremely well-organized Out of the Park Baseball for years, it’s a disappointment that FOF is so lacking in presentation.

All of that said, there are a few nice touches that add personality to the game (though it’s easy to overlook them). First, is “Solevision” -- essentially the “NFL Redzone” channel distilled to a text interface. Watch play-by-play for any game during the week, switching between games if desired.

Also are a number of “publications,” like the “Grey Sheet” which analyzes top-free agents, or the “Green Page” which reports on top prospects. These are nice concise ways to view the most interesting players in the league without sorting through various team rosters.

Statistical Accuracy/Rosters

A few notes regarding players, teams, and stats. First, current NFL players are in the game with ratings accurate at the beginning of the season. Of the few players I studied in depth, none look to be wildly inaccurate in terms of their ratings, which are on a 0-100 point scale.

Secondly, all teams are in game, minus their correct nicknames. These are easily editable. However, there are no graphical logos (other than city names) to edit or modify.

Finally, in regards to statistical accuracy, everything I’ve simulated seems to be in good order. In fact, if you read the help file, you get some nice insight from the developer Jim Grindin on how the various simulation engines and rating systems were created, and what exactly he was trying to emulate.

Final Thoughts

Front Office Football Seven is a deep, accurate, intricate, complex, and realistic football text sim. It is also looks like it was made to run on Windows 95.

If the first sentence of that paragraph is all that you care about, this game is a definite purchase. The developer clearly puts his limited time and funds into the more meaningful portions of the game, and for that, what’s “under the hood” is stellar.

However, it’s the second sentence that may eliminate some of this game’s audience. Because the game looks so dated, the learning curve is steeper than it has to be.

Again, though, this game recreates enough of the intricacies and details of the game that climbing that steep learning curve is worth it. All told, Front Office Football capably fills the need for a true football text sim for the discerning fan.

Learning Curve: Relatively steep, even for a text sim. Made more difficult because of poor organization and user interface.

Online: While I wasn’t able to fully review this aspect of the game, it does have a fully featured suite of tools for commissioners and online leagues

Lasting Appeal: A very deep game with nearly unlimited replayability, especially if you devote the time to learn its inner workings. Would like to see a more customization options.

Value: At $40, it may seem a little expensive, especially based on looks alone. However, weighed against other text sims of its ilk, its content is of equivalent value.

Score: 8.0 (Great)

Scoring Note: If the game can get an interface to match its gameplay, this will be one of the premiere management sims on the market, as of right now it's kind of a novelty but a great one. If you have wanted more depth out of Madden's Franchise, this is worth a look in the dead period of sports gaming.

Member Comments
# 1 NaturalSelected @ 01/03/14 01:38 PM
Correction: relatively "steep" under learning curve.
# 2 soonermagic88 @ 01/03/14 01:41 PM
This looks fun. Are there any College Football text based sims out there?
# 3 RumbleCard @ 01/03/14 01:44 PM
Originally Posted by soonermagic88
This looks fun. Are there any College Football text based sims out there?
It looks like the same company offers one. "The College Years".

I've never heard of this but I'm probably going to try it out. Looks great.
# 4 Kuroth @ 01/03/14 02:06 PM
Like your review.. Have you done any other reviews? I just picked up 4th Street Football and surprised there is not any Info on this site about it.. I am going to play it for a while and then maybe try and write a review about it here.. So far I am really liking it BUT I am only trying out the Coaching part of the game(Play calling) Have not even looked at the Drafting and team running(GM) yet..
# 5 daddytorgo @ 01/03/14 04:02 PM
Couple things Caley:

-I don't speak for the developer, but just as a member of the community at Front Office Football Central (the unofficial message board of the game). Want to make that clear.
-Very active community at http://operationsports.com/fofc . Welcoming to newcomers.
-One man studio is indeed correct. Has always been.
-The developer listened to community feedback regarding the graphics and is currently running a contest for user-submitted entries to replace some of them to improve the UI.
-Graphics mods (including logos, etc.) are typically done by the community (or have been in the past), and should be out shortly if they're not already (I don't know if they are to be honest).
# 6 form_an_opinion @ 01/03/14 05:17 PM
I have played this game since the beginning back in 98 or so.. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that this is the best football sim out there. If you want to be a GM or coach and play a franchise to the end of time, you can. There is no built in end to the game, you can play til the year 3000 and beyond if you want to. The developer is also working on improving the graphical look of the game some, not a major overhauls, but better looking elements as far as background and calendar screens, etc.

Not only that, but the single player experience and multi player experience are both top of the line. Single player is a challenge now, which it struggled with in past versions. The AI is impressive, to say the least. Computer controlled teams will operate very much like they should, down to game planning to feature their most talented players. If you're someone like me who likes to manage and coach/watch my team play, this game blows any football sim from any time in history out of the water. It's not even a contest.
# 7 ajra21 @ 01/03/14 05:22 PM
anyway of playing this on a mac?
# 8 Popa721 @ 01/03/14 09:50 PM
The best way to play this on a mac is to buy a windows PC and tape an apple on it.
# 9 daddytorgo @ 01/03/14 10:52 PM
People play it on a mac using Parallels or one of those other emulator type programs pretty easily. I'm not a Mac guy, but I gather it works. You might want to check the forums at http://operationsports.com/fofc for more details to make sure you pick the emulator that works most seamlessly with it though.
# 10 lynkraid @ 01/03/14 11:21 PM
I have some questions to any who have played this. Can you sim a full season and how long does that take? And how well does the computer take care of your team during the simmed season? Another question, how well does progression and regression along with retirement work, is it pretty well realistic to nfl/madden?
# 11 tarek @ 01/04/14 03:59 AM
Has anybody tried running this or other similar text sims (like the wolverine or grey dog or OOTP) via a Microsoft surface pro?

I'm in the market for a tablet and if I can run sports text sims and some older games via a surface pro then I'll be purchasing it. If not, I'll be looking at a non-mac laptop to handle this and some other specific needs and stick with an iPad.
# 12 drewst18 @ 01/04/14 02:43 PM
I think Bowl Bound College Football is a much better Football sim than TCY
# 13 goroyals @ 01/05/14 10:57 AM
Does this edition feature any sort of league customization akin to OOTP? Basically, could I start with a 12 team league and expand it over the years?
# 14 Ben E Lou @ 01/05/14 12:41 PM
Originally Posted by lynkraid
I have some questions to any who have played this. Can you sim a full season and how long does that take? And how well does the computer take care of your team during the simmed season? Another question, how well does progression and regression along with retirement work, is it pretty well realistic to nfl/madden?
1. Yes, you can sim a full season. Simming straight through the Preseason, Regular Season, and Postseason games without stopping to look at any box scores/stats/etc. takes roughly 45 seconds on my machine (quad-core, 8GB RAM.)

2. The computer does a very solid job of handling your team in the simmed season. It may make some decisions that you wouldn't make, but they all seem to have a logical base.

3. Career arcs are very, very good. The developer adjusts those with every release (and sometimes even with free yearly roster updates when there's not a new release in a given fall) to match current NFL trends.
# 15 chzblck @ 01/05/14 06:35 PM
Upset their demo did not work for me.
# 16 conception @ 01/06/14 02:31 AM
A player of several years here, I will likely buy the new version when the new graphical interface is added in. I would have bought it already, but I just got NCAA 14 to toy around with and I've re-discovered NFL Head Coach, so finding time for both is a real challenge as it is.
# 17 bblack1207 @ 01/12/14 04:31 PM
Have Been Playing This Game For Years Now And Have Found It To Be Absolutely The Best. Have Also Bought Strat-o-matic Pro Football To Compare. Front Office Is Much Better, Strategically Dominant And Keeps You Interested.
# 18 Ueauvan @ 01/27/14 08:51 AM
i love this iteration of the game. an updated 7.0a was released which fixed a couple of things and added some graphics. the user community produce graphics options and other helpful tools for players to download. i prefer that this was designed for 95 rather than 8.1.

it does what it says on the tin unlike Madden
# 19 Crawdad7000 @ 01/31/14 01:06 AM
great game. I had the original 1998 version and then 2004. Loved how you could replay the history of the NFL from 1960/1961 with real names on all the players. But now I own a MAC and FOF doesn't support anything but Windows. Too bad. The college game is pretty good as well.
# 20 longranger @ 02/06/14 12:40 AM
Any for Mac users

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