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Axis Football '18 Review

Axis Football 2018

Axis Football '18 Review

There’s a new gridiron game out on Steam with the release of Axis Football ‘18. There is one thing I’d like to get out of the way: This isn’t Madden. It’s not supposed to be, either. Axis Football ‘18 is developed by indie studio Axis Games and they aren’t out to become a Madden killer.

What they have done instead, is make a fun if flawed take on football that features a deep franchise mode and the ability to customize every team and every player. Keeping that in mind, this affordable title does a few things very well and shows promise for future games to iterate on.

Let’s take a look at what Axis Football ‘18 brings to the playing field.

Gameplay

Jumping into the meat of the game is easy and you can either use mouse and keyboard controls or use a PC compatible controller. While I was able to get used to the mouse and keyboard to control, I definitely recommend using a controller if possible.

Offense is definitely the better controlling side of the ball. Playcalling is laid out in the very familiar three play options with the ability to choose plays from formations, concepts, or even using an Ask Madden type style of playcalling.

Running makes the most sense. You’re able to hit the hole, use juke moves, or try and take it to the edge of the defense to gain extra yards. Run blocking is mostly fine, though on most run plays, you’ll see a defender get a free run at the running back. Often times you can make that guy miss, but it’s apparent that run blocking logic is fairly rudimentary.

Passing is a bit more problematic. Wide Receivers almost never look open and if you decide to throw a lob pass, prepare to have the defense quickly surround the pass catcher. The pass animations are far too floaty and you’ll quickly get used to the feeling that every pass will be picked. Bullet passes are a bit better but even then there seems to be problems getting receivers wide open. It is still functional, but could use some work.

Defense is interesting. On the one hand, you have pass rush moves and can get after the QB with a fair amount of consistency. On the other hand, tackling is as simple as running into the ball carrier. There isn’t much agency given to the player as a defender.

Playing into the secondary also proves difficult as your defender will often drop interceptions simply because the passing game allows for defenders to constantly be so close. It’s not that it’s not fun, I just feel like there is still a lot for the Axis team to add to the game in terms of animations and controls that would improve the experience overall.

Franchise

Here is where Axis Football ‘18 shines. Franchise mode is actually deeper than I expected it to be. You start off by choosing your team from 1 of 3 tiers. As you go up in tier, the team you can choose gets stronger. This is a good division for different styles of franchise runners. You can rebuild a bad team, or fill out a good team in terms of winning a championship.

Every aspect of the franchise is customizable. You can edit teams, players, attributes, contracts, and game plans. You can choose to mod real life teams into the game or shape a completely original team to any look you would like. While not quite as deep as an Out Of The Park game, there is plenty here to keep would be commissioners happy.

Now just because you start off as a tier 3 team doesn’t mean you’re going to stay a tier 3 team. In a play out of Soccer playbooks, there are call ups and relegations. Players progress and regress in a fairly realistic fashion, team stats are accounted for over the course of the season, and you can draft for your future. Anything you want to do is here and it all works well thanks to a slick UI that keeps things simple and easy to use.

Graphics and Presentation

Keeping in mind that this is an Indie title, be prepared for a blast from the past in terms of graphics. The playing field looks good and there is a lot of static equipment on the sidelines, but crowds are sparse and the sidelines are fairly devoid of other players. Anti-aliasing is merely okay, and frame rates can be prone to stutter during things like kickoffs.

 

Player models are pretty good but are more reminiscent of last gen graphical fidelity. Mods definitely help the cause as everything from logos, crowds, and even cheerleaders can be customized to make things a little easier on the eyes. Player portraits can be changed as well and that’s good since most players are indistinguishable from others besides a few different skin tone variations.

Commentary is also a mixed bag. While it’s present in the game, it’s also very mechanical and tinny. Vocal inflections are all over the board as it seems to have been pieced together. That being said, there aren’t any blatant errors and color man Mike Steel will throw in the occasional pearl of wisdom. Dan Stevens will keep you informed of down and distance but I found myself turning it off after a few games.

Play art and hot routes are present and does a good job of showing you what is going on during the game. There are some interesting choices in terms of where the penalty pop ups are and when an injury happens, the pop up to show you who got hurt is easily misable as the window is small and tucked at the very bottom of the screen.

Bottom Line

By no means is Axis Football ‘18 a competitor to Madden. What it is, is a competent playing game of football and a really fun franchise sim. Considering that the small dev team at Axis Games had a tiny budget and is selling the game at a fair price, that’s perfectly okay. In fact, this game is very reminiscent of early NFL 2k games and for some, that should be more than enough to give it a shot.

When accounting for how deep the franchise mode is and the fact that mods will allow you to customize anything your heart desires, anyone who wants an alternative football game could do far worse than giving Axis Football ‘18 a look.

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  1. As much as I appreciate the effort, I just can't do it.  Maybe 10 years ago but not in 2018.  The game just looks too dated & gameplay is too generic.   I encourage them to keep at it though.  Maybe in a couple years  it could turn into a real competitor.  
    On a positive note, this game already does some things better than Madden.  I don't see players completely walking through each other's bodies when breaking the huddle on offense!  
    I think for them to succeed they need to start with a mobile franchise based simulation and build a solid fan base from there. I hope to support them by buying a console version in a few months but frankly with the big titles rolling out I don’t know if I will have time to play! Follow OOTP’s footsteps and create a can’t put down mobile game and go from there!
    I commend the Axis team for even taking this on. I am sure it is a daunting taks for a very small team.
    However, this is 2018...I am not looking to spend my money on titles that look like, and play like, titles from 20-25 years ago. That holds true for any genre...not just sports.
    I can't buy this in its current state, but I will keep an eye on their progress over the next few years. I believe they are about 2-3 years away from producing the kind of game that people both want and expect this year. I hope they can find funding from a backer, because I don't think their sales are going to keep the team afloat for that length of time.
    Best of luck to the team...
    C
    capa
    I commend the Axis team for even taking this on. I am sure it is a daunting taks for a very small team.
    However, this is 2018...I am not looking to spend my money on titles that look like, and play like, titles from 20-25 years ago. That holds true for any genre...not just sports.
    I can't buy this in its current state, but I will keep an eye on their progress over the next few years. I believe they are about 2-3 years away from producing the kind of game that people both want and expect this year. I hope they can find funding from a backer, because I don't think their sales are going to keep the team afloat for that length of time.
    Best of luck to the team...
    C

    Well we will agree to completely disagree. Graphics mean little compared to overall game play, imho. Why do you think there is a big return to retro gaming? People are realizing that it means less the way games look, and more the way they play and the features they have (at least some of us, lol). Heck, I know lots of guys who still play Front Page Sports Football Pro series because it did so many things well (and it looks like sh$t compared to modern games). If you can't play it or any game because the graphics look sub-par to you, well that's your choice (I feel for you -- indeed there are AMAZING games with not great graphics (case in point - Airships Conquer the Skies (indie team, 2-D pixelated graphics - but soooo incredibly fun!) Let graphics be your guide if you must, but you are missing out on a lot.
    ?
    agree with what redwolf said.   Ill add that I think the gameplay matters more to older gamers.
    graphics is the gloss, bells and whistles.  at the core it comes down to game play.
    In addition, when it comes to movement, physics, and look, the graphics from late era ps2/xbox  and ps3/xbox360 are comparable to today's games.  only difference is the real life quality to the graphics. 
    sports games form that era looks like sports games of today.  commentary, franchise modes are still comparable to this current gen.  especially when you are dealing with franchise modes.
    with that said,  I will take  a look at Axis football, and purchase it soon.
     
    I discovered axis last year and for what it was, it played like it's age. And most will look at this as just a poor video game in 2018 and that is fine, everybody's entitled to your own opinion, but my opinion is this. Go to youtube and watch comparision videos from 15, 16,17, and now 18 and you tell me what 4 year window of madden has improved that much in comparision to assets available. If you like playing with real teams and players, then go for madden but if you just sim through madden franchise, take axis as the better option for GMing.
    redwo1f
    Well we will agree to completely disagree. Graphics mean little compared to overall game play, imho. Why do you think there is a big return to retro gaming? People are realizing that it means less the way games look, and more the way they play and the features they have (at least some of us, lol). Heck, I know lots of guys who still play Front Page Sports Football Pro series because it did so many things well (and it looks like sh$t compared to modern games). If you can't play it or any game because the graphics look sub-par to you, well that's your choice (I feel for you -- indeed there are AMAZING games with not great graphics (case in point - Airships Conquer the Skies (indie team, 2-D pixelated graphics - but soooo incredibly fun!) Let graphics be your guide if you must, but you are missing out on a lot.

    Its not just the graphics...it IS the gameplay. From what I have seen from Axis, the gameplay is sorely lacking. There is no realism in what I see in their gameplay. Put the awkward animations on top of that and it is a turn off for me.
    So, have fun with the title...that is your prerogative. Just as it is mine to defer. We all have our own concept of realism, etc. I am not a graphics whore but the gameplay also underwhelms me. It is just not ready for my money...that's my opinion. You have your own.
    And yes, we should leave it at that.
    C
    I will join Redwolf and others in saying that I enjoy Axis 18, since graphics are not my top priority.  If I could get an updated version of FPSFBPro, I'd be thrilled.  So, I do recommend this game to anyone who is/was a fan of the FPS series (and wants something other than Madden).  I would never say the gameplay in Axis is as polished or as smooth as Madden, but, Axis actually handles things pretty well.  One thing I love about Axis is that a pass rusher can shoot an OL gap without falling victim to Madden's suction blocking.  One area I will respectfully disagree with the review, though, is when the franchise mode was called surprisingly deep.  It actually could not be much more shallow (though certainly better than no franchise mode).  No career stats, no real depth chart, barebones draft, unclear progression/regression, no Pro Bowl.  Axis is building to a great product, and I'm excited to join in and support the effort, but, to be fair, the franchise mode has just as far to go as the gameplay.
    capa
    Its not just the graphics...it IS the game play. From what I have seen from Axis, the game play is sorely lacking. There is no realism in what I see in their gameplay. Put the awkward animations on top of that and it is a turn off for me.
    So, have fun with the title...that is your prerogative. Just as it is mine to defer. We all have our own concept of realism, etc. I am not a graphics whore but the gameplay also underwhelms me. It is just not ready for my money...that's my opinion. You have your own.
    And yes, we should leave it at that.
    C

    Agreed...but my main reaction I wrote when I did was a general gaming and graphics point of view (not meant exclusively at Axis, but a general take) - I just see too many people immediately turned off of games because sweat doesn't glisten on their faces, etc., lol.
    And yes, Axis is far from perfect and still needs a LOT of work and polishing (I downgraded my review to C+/C a week back (with a lot of potential (depending on how long they work on this edition till they go full swing to next version). - but give them credit, with a $15k budget and a tiny independent team all with other full time jobs, they have accomplished a whole lot and the series is improving by leaps and bounds. :)
    I’m likely to pick it up on PS4 since I didn’t see Mac support this year. I played 16 and it was fun old school arcade style. The 2 things I really like 1) Fast pace of play, (ie cant get in and out off huddle very fast. Hope the game is the same. Madden used to be good in that respect but not so much anymore.)
    2) The passing cursor. I love the different mechanic. Reminds me of old school John Elway game.
    I would love if they took this game in the direction of FPS football with a play editor. I’m curious how good Coach mode is difficulty wise, might be a good coach mode game?
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    boxboy99

    I would love if they took this game in the direction of FPS football with a play editor. I’m curious how good Coach mode is difficulty wise, might be a good coach mode game?
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports

    Ooh, is there a coach mode? That sparks my interest.
    redwo1f
    Agreed...but my main reaction I wrote when I did was a general gaming and graphics point of view (not meant exclusively at Axis, but a general take) - I just see too many people immediately turned off of games because sweat doesn't glisten on their faces, etc., lol.
    And yes, Axis is far from perfect and still needs a LOT of work and polishing (I downgraded my review to C+/C a week back (with a lot of potential (depending on how long they work on this edition till they go full swing to next version). - but give them credit, with a $15k budget and a tiny independent team all with other full time jobs, they have accomplished a whole lot and the series is improving by leaps and bounds. :)

    I am in agreement here for sure. I would never downplay the effort it took to come this far for the team. It is very impressive and they do deserve all the kudos they can get.
    However, the game is not good enough for me to purchase. I know they have a robust career mode which is great, but my focus is how it plays and looks on the field. I am not overly impressed with the AI in many instances, and like it or not, the animations hold this game back from being immersive or believable. Too many ghost tackles, odd animations, etc. I do hope as they move forward they can clean this up or move to a more physics based system.
    I am not comparing this game with ANY title. I want to like it...believe me. For me, it is just not there yet.
    C
    It's disappointing that so many are going to write it off so easily. Yes, it's behind Madden, but it has improved exponentially each release. I'm excited for it on console.
    It's $20, I expect it to play like a $20 game and not a AAA $60. In time, and with improvement, it will get there. It cannot get there if we don't support it. The customization alone is worth the $20 in my book. Maybe it will be fun, maybe not. For $20, it's an easy risk to take, especially knowing it will be put right back into development.
    SilverBullet19
    It's disappointing that so many are going to write it off so easily. Yes, it's behind Madden, but it has improved exponentially each release. I'm excited for it on console.
    It's $20, I expect it to play like a $20 game and not a AAA $60. In time, and with improvement, it will get there. It cannot get there if we don't support it. The customization alone is worth the $20 in my book. Maybe it will be fun, maybe not. For $20, it's an easy risk to take, especially knowing it will be put right back into development.

    Appreciate your take on the support for this game. I choose not to contribute because I don't like paying for something I won't use. I understand the thought process on assisting the dev team, but those models don't fit for me. I would not contribute to a GoFundMe account for the game either.
    It is just a personal decision, and not a reflection on anyone else who does choose to support by buying. If they stay in business and release over the next few years, I will keep an eye on it. If it gets to the point where I believe it is a game I would play, I will purchase whether it is $20 or $60.
    I know it goes against what the community and developers are seeking, but it is just a personal decision on my part.
    C
    Axis 3.4 is out!
    We're happy to announce that Axis Football 2018 v3.4 is now live! Please see the changelog below for full details.
    Fixed the bug where the clock would sometimes run on a kickoff before the ball was kicked.
    Fixed the bug where the QB would scramble too often on computers with really high framerates.
    Fixed the bug where the game would sometimes freeze up if the score was tied at the end of regulation.
    Fixed the bug where wrong jersey would sometimes appear on players if multiple games were played back-to-back
    Fixed the bug where uncaught kickoffs that rolled out of endzone would result in an auto safety on the next play
    Fixed the bug where selecting a new team strategy with the mouse would snap the ball unintentionally.
    Fixed the bug where the AI was making the wrong decision on the penalty if a kickoff was kicked out of bounds.
    Fixed the bug where declining a penalty on a turnover put the ball on the wrong side of the field.
    Kickers and Punters are now less likely to get injured
    Users can now hold the X button on their controllers to run out the clock when on offense.
    3.4 needs to be followed, of course, by 3.5!!
    Fixed a bug that was preventing drafted players from showing up in the list of available players to trade.
    Fixed an audio loading asset bundle issue that was sometimes causing the game to freeze up at halftime.
    Fixed the spelling of 'concussion'
    The ball will now properly be placed at the 20 after an INT and tackle in the endzone.
    Touchdowns will no longer be recorded twice when there is a penalty on a scoring play.
    The AI will call timeouts more appropriately now when under 2 minutes to go in the half.
    You can now shift your safety left and right on formations that only have 1 safety.
    Catch logic will now take the number of defenders nearby into greater account.
    Catch logic will now take the stats difference between the receiver and defender into greater account.
    Catch logic will be based on both catch and awareness for receivers and defenders.
    Defending a pass will be based on both cover and awareness for defenders.
    Kickoffs caught in the endzone or out of the endzone will now be placed at the 25.
    Punts that go into the endzone will always be placed at the 20.
    Onside kicks return can now be selected.
    The clock can now only be accelerated with the "X" button if the play is pre-snap.
    So called "experts" now predict the outcome of your game before it's played. This can be viewed on the game setup screen on the far right tab (new)
    I just wanted to say how impressed I am with this game. Every year it’s a monumental leap forward.
    The franchise mode is awesome. Better than Madden.
    The gameplay itself isn’t Madden. The animations aren’t realistic. It’s more like players run into another player to tackle them. They don’t move that well either. But it’s still a huge improvement over prior years.
    If the developers worked on adding more animations and fine tuned the collision system, it would be a better game.
    I bought it for $20. I probably won’t get my money’s worth as Madden is still better. But I’m happy to support the developer because this game is 2 years away competing directly with Madden.
    Axis Football 2020 will probably be able to compete directly with Madden.
    It’s really amazing how this small team of developers has made this.
    mossme89
    I just wanted to say how impressed I am with this game. Every year it’s a monumental leap forward.
    The franchise mode is awesome. Better than Madden.
    The gameplay itself isn’t Madden. The animations aren’t realistic. It’s more like players run into another player to tackle them. They don’t move that well either. But it’s still a huge improvement over prior years.
    If the developers worked on adding more animations and fine tuned the collision system, it would be a better game.
    I bought it for $20. I probably won’t get my money’s worth as Madden is still better. But I’m happy to support the developer because this game is 2 years away competing directly with Madden.
    Axis Football 2020 will probably be able to compete directly with Madden.
    It’s really amazing how this small team of developers has made this.

    While I, too, purchased the game and am happy to support the developer, to say the franchise mode (at this point) is better than Madden is silly. Axis' franchise mode is as bare bones as could be. I am happy it has a franchise mode, but it has a lot of work before it can be remotely even to the level of Madden.
    This is a reincarnation of Front Page Sports Football 96 to me. Which is awesome.  It blows my mind people hate madden will  buy it for $60... then someone is working on  building a base to better and people say "Grpahics suck won't buy till they are better" Well if you don't buy it they won't be able to come out with more games. They are taking steps to do many things Madden refuses to do, the graphics will catch up.  I consider the $20 an investment more than getting game.  
    Can’t wait to finish my work week and buy this.
    For those who have, in franchise mode are you able to operate without contracts? I’d love to create like a junior college league if there’s a way to play it like a college game instead of pro
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    SilverBullet19
    Can’t wait to finish my work week and buy this.
    For those who have, in franchise mode are you able to operate without contracts? I’d love to create like a junior college league if there’s a way to play it like a college game instead of pro
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports

    There are checkboxes on each team to make it a college team. However I haven't found a logo editor on the console version.
    This is the best 3rd party attempt at coming up with a new football game. Hope they can keep it up for a few more years...if they can, I think there is hope for all of us they could provide a way to having a college football mod by 2020 that everyone can gravitate towards.
    But competition may be there from 2 or 3 football games providing a creative mode, so hopefully they don't all crowd the market and fail.
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