Pro Strategy Football 2013 Review (iPhone)
Reviewing iOS games is always a hard task, because while some games try to offer complete and deep experiences, that is often not what people using the platform are really demanding.
Games which are simple to navigate and easy to play are what make the best games on the smaller screen. The more a game tries to fit into that few inches of screen real estate, it’s almost certain the more clunky it is going to end up feeling.
Pro Strategy Football 2013, weighing in at $5 on the app store, borders on that line, with more options to manage a football team in-game than you can shake a stick at. In many ways, PSF 2013 is perhaps one of the deeper attempts at simulating a sport on mobile devices, it’s just that the interface can’t handle all of the options you are inevitably given.
You are greeted on the home screen with four different apparent options, you have a scrimmage game, season play, saved games, and multiplayer to choose from. However, the core of the game revolves around managing a pro football team more on the field than off of it.
You have several different options while managing your games, you can adjust lineups and call different plays based upon how you want to attack your opponent. You can select different plays on offense based upon where you want to attack. It really does sound great in theory, but everything is buried within a few layers deep of menus to get your entire offense fully called in. Getting the right play called can sometimes take a good bit of time to ensure you have everything set up the way you want. I constantly found myself wanting to hit an easy button to make everything simpler for me within this part of the game.
Defensively, PSF 2013 deserves some major kudos for releasing with what I’d like to think are some of the most realistic defensive play call options available — as you do call plays for each level of your defense while also assigning coverage types and blitzers. Defensive play calling is much simpler than on offense — but there are still several menus you have to run through to make sure you call everything right.
Really, the menus for play calling are my main gripe with this game. Everything else is there on-field to make this a great tactical simulator of football. The stats the game generates, as well as the visual gameplay are good enough to make you want to keep playing, but there are oftentimes options hidden in menus several layers deep, which means you can sometimes lose important options when you need them most -- such as the no-huddle option. The game never tries to be bold and suggest courses of action you should take as the coach, which would probably make it much more accessible and quite a bit more fun.
The animations and such on the field are fine and remind you somewhat of Tecmo Bowl and if you are crunched for time you can just push the skip button to skip through the on-field action. Personally, I really would like an option to speed up the on-field gameplay and not just slow it down, as I found the pace of the action on field was a hair slow.
The scenario editor included in the options is quite fun to play with, as you can set up just about any scenario you can dream of within the game and try to play it out on the field. Anything from trying to come from behind late in the game to trying to protect a sensitive lead with the clock winding to trying to stage a monumental comeback in the second half down big are all possible.
The season mode allows you to play or sim any game within a 16-game NFL like schedule. However, there are no team management options within the season mode and it is limited to just playing out a 16-game schedule and then the playoffs -- so anyone looking for a management sim off-the-field will have to look elsewhere.
The playcall menus can be a bit cumbersome to put it mildly.
The options are certainly immense with this game, you can do just about everything pre-snap strategically within the game of football if you take time to learn the extensive interface. However, the iOS platform doesn't lend itself well to this type of approach, as most poeple are after a plug-and-play type of experience.
There is a really good game of football in here somewhere that could come out with later updates, and anyone who doesn’t mind a more complex iOS experience should give this a shot. However, the $5 price tag along with the menus which are too complex and sometimes confusing, make this game something you should skip if you like simple and clean experiences on your mobile device.
Score: 6.5 (Above Average)
Scoring Note: This game really almost meanders into 7.0 (good) range, but the interface really does need a lot of cleaning up. There are situations where things are laid out well, but those options are hidden within options. A bit of focus on simplicity in the future would make this game a worthy title for your $5.