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Axis Football 2019 Review - A Solid Alternative to Madden

Axis Football 2019

Axis Football 2019 Review - A Solid Alternative to Madden

Nowadays, there’s plenty of healthy alternatives to the top sports games in the industry. And whether you believe in text-based simulations or want to be able to feel the immersion of your favorite sport, there’s still plenty of places to turn if you’re tired of the AAA sports titles. The perfect example of this is Madden, which despite new and innovative ways of trying to keep things fresh, continues to trip over its own two feet.

While Madden has slowly shifted most of the focus to Madden Ultimate Team and a more arcade-like feel, the smaller titles continue to stick to their roots, producing simulations that can make fans of the sport proud. Truth is, gamers are still interested in a real-life representation of the sport and like to have full control over their gaming experience. So how does this installment of Axis Football 2019 compare to its older sibling? Can it do enough good to give users a healthy alternative to EA’s juggernaut?

Let’s take a look at what I liked and disliked about Axis Football 2019 to find out.

What I Like

Sights And Sounds

No one expects the smaller indie developers to be capable of producing similar graphics and animations to compete with the bigger companies and their large budgets. So, I try to factor this into the grading whenever necessary. In this case, that’s Axis Football, which does not have the flashy player models and next-level animations, but it is still able to hold its own against the rest of the competition. Sure, the big-time hits and pass breakups can look a bit clunky at times, but overall the visuals are enjoyable and give the game a bit of an old-school feel.

As for the sounds, bone-jarring hits and an officially licensed soundtrack will give players something worth listening to, which is much more than you can say about some of the other football alternatives on the market. Truth is, you will continue to hear the soundtrack in your head, hours after powering off your console.

Overall, Axis delivers on the audio and visuals fronts in this year’s installment.

Customization

One of the most important things when playing a football game that doesn’t include the official NFL license is having the ability to modify things accordingly. Thankfully, Axis gives you all of this and more at the touch of your fingertips. Want to customize one of the 36 original teams and make them look more realistic to their NFL counterparts? You can do that, though most teams already have a unique look and feel that may look eerily similar to your favorite NFL franchise. Want to customize each player to look like your favorite NFL team’s roster? You can do that, too. There are plenty of customization options to chose from that will keep gamers occupied for hours and hours on end.

Franchise Mode

Of course, like many video games there needs to be a game mode that has enough replay value to keep gamers coming back for more. And despite there not being a MUT mode or million different challenges to keep players entertained, the heart of Axis Football goes back to sports gaming’s roots, franchise mode.

Here, you have the opportunity to build your franchise from the ground up. That includes a 16-man coaching staff, including scouts, position coaches and coordinators — all of which is something EA has failed to implement for several years. Furthermore, with the new badge system, coaches will continue to gain experience and ratings boosts based on their overall performance.

Furthermore, an improved scouting system makes evaluating talent throughout the year all the more rewarding. This isn’t exactly on the same level as Madden, but it does enough good to enhance the game mode. Additionally, coaches will be able to customize the practice strategies to get the most out of their players.

Most impressive is Axis’ ability to implement all the nuances that make a football game great. This includes player contracts, trades, injuries, practice squads, free agency, weekly and yearly awards, unlimited seasons, player progression and so much more. It might not be perfect, but there’s plenty to love about franchise mode in this year’s installment.

What I Don’t Like

Gameplay

Obviously, what makes a video game entertaining is the gameplay. Axis allows players to enjoy a variety of different game modes, including player vs. AI, coach mode, spectator mode, local player vs. player, and franchise mode. But the root of all video games is the gameplay itself, which is where Axis Football falls short, but not for lack of trying.

New to this year’s installment includes an expanded playbook with nearly 2000+ plays and 50+ formations. This is clearly not as impressive as what Madden is doing, but for a smaller title, it’s quite impressive. Nevertheless, I find myself coming back to the same plays, and navigating through the different formations and plays can be tiresome at times.

Aside from the deep playbooks, hot routes and audibles have been added to keep things as true to real life as possible. And, of course, players have the ability to pull off a number of highlight-reel moves including jukes, spins, hurdles, motions and more. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot left to be desired and a majority of that comes down to the responsiveness of the controls.

Truth is, the issue with the overall gameplay of Axis Football is that it feels unresponsive or delayed at times. And for a sport where timing is so crucial, it can be a bit frustrating to say the least. Many times, I will find myself trying to throw a pass or switch onto a player and the timing feels delayed. This results in a missed tackle that sometimes changes the outcome of a game. It’s one thing to make a mistake as the user with full control, it’s another to allow the game to dictate the outcome.

This isn’t necessarily something that is exclusive to gameplay either. In fact, navigating from menu to menu, or even trying to chose whether to kick or receive, seems delayed. This could just be a console issue and something that could be patched in the future, but for now, it remains one of the glaring weaknesses in an otherwise solid representation of America’s favorite sport.

Bottom Line

Overall, Axis Football 2019 is a healthy alternative to EA’s latest installment of Madden. And although it doesn’t have enough glitz and glamour to compete with sports gaming’s bigger brother, it does enough good to keep players interested. And while new football games appear every year trying to compete with what Madden is doing, Axis Football remains its own unique representation of the sport. You probably won’t stop playing EA’s latest installment in favor of its younger brother, but there’s plenty to like about the expanded gameplay and updated franchise mode to keep users coming back again and again.

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  1. I, too thirst for a football game that will break this madden stronghold. EA’s mediocre attempts to move the needle has almost push me out of the video game market altogether. To say that this game is a healthy alternative to madden is both false and misleading. This game is trash at best.  Not worth the time it takes to download. If they made NCAA football backwards compatible, it would probably pursue madden in sales right now..
    How customizable is the game, in terms of not only team names, cities, and uniforms, but league structure and sizes, schedules, number of games, etc.?
    drugsbunny
    I, too thirst for a football game that will break this madden stronghold. EA’s mediocre attempts to move the needle has almost push me out of the video game market altogether. To say that this game is a healthy alternative to madden is both false and misleading. This game is trash at best. *Not worth the time it takes to download. If they made NCAA football backwards compatible, it would probably pursue madden in sales right now..

    "This game is trash at best"
    This is one of the most toxic statements that people make when giving "feedback". Its right in line with:
    "The game is garbage"
    "The player movement is trash"
    "Nobody will buy this"
    "Nobody cares about that mode"
    Etc etc
    We have to be better about giving feedback. This game isn't "trash" to many people, a lot of positives exist in this game customization wise, franchise wise, soundtrack wise, etc. Using context when making critiques is vital, including the size of the dev team, money they have to use on the project, licensing obstacles, etc etc.
    Proper feedback would look like:
    "This game is not for me, and will not appeal to a larger audience unless they fix some of the robotic and stiff animations, smooth things out in general, and add more animations. Gameplay is vital, including the first impression when someone initially gets hands on the sticks. Axis falls short here. Catching animations where the receiver doesn't animate, the ball just "attaches" to him (early 90s Madden like), tackles that look far from organic and lack physics, offensive and defensive line intelligence that doesnt mimic the real sport, etc. For most, gameplay is still #1 most important in regards to enjoyment, and staying power (continuing to play for a longer period of time). For Axis 2020, gameplay should be the ultimate focus, it's where the majority of time should be spent.
    While the franchise mode is robust, the customization endless, and commentary acceptable, it has many on field issues that hold it back from being a competitor. Some of this is obviously because of the size of the development team, and money they can use in the project, but that doesnt change the fact that it needs to feel good on the sticks, and look smoother on the field animation wise. It looks like they spent 90% of the development cycle on making franchise mode and customization more robust, and only 10% on the on field improvements. I wish they had gone in vice versa, and spent more time on the gameplay front."
    Saying something is "trash" or "garbage" and leaving it at that, doesnt help anybody, not the average person reading it, or the developers who may have eyes on it. "This game is trash" tells the developers one thing, that you dont like it. It doesn't target what you dont like about it, what you would like to see improve, or anything else for that matter
    That example feedback above is mine. I am a basketball gamer 99% of the time, and I see the "this is trash" feedback constantly, and it's super frustrating and toxic. I had someone tell me that "Nobody plays with retro teams" and "MyLeague is dead, everybody plays online now, nobody cares about it". Those statements are as toxic and failing in context as much as a blanket statement of "This game is trash".
    This was your comment on the NBA 2K20 patch thread:
    "How do you have a patch this big and only leave us with ambiguous information like "many more fixes"?"
    You are upset because they used a blanket statement like "many more fixes" because that didnt help you understand what fixes were implemented in the game. That is no different than you saying "The game is trash", and leaving it at that. 2K team stating "many more fixes" didnt help you, and your statement saying the game was trash doesnt help the developers. It's a two way street, we have to do our part as well.
    We can do better than that. Help the developers and help the average person reading through, otherwise what is the point of commenting?
    You can also state the game is not for you, as opposed to saying its trash. Not everybody is going to provide the same amount of detail, and the number of bullet points will be different depending on the person. But the "this is trash" stuff has to go.
    Lastly, I want to point something else out.
    Think about how many people go onto youtube and watch gameplay footage of Axis in order to gauge if they will buy. Thousands upon thousands. A LOT of people will not buy based on how the game looks animation wise, how the on field action looks and flows, etc. First impression is not just important for those who have hands on the sticks, but for those VIEWING the game before buying.
    Axis falls incredibly short here, which you can see by looking at any of the comment sections on the various YouTube gaming videos. It not only needs to play better, it needs to be more visually acceptable animation/football wise in order the appeal to a much larger audience.
    I honestly have faith that the devs are reading all the feedback, and will dive into improving the gameplay for Axis 2020. It takes longer to get things right with a small dev team, and limited technology, so the fact that it's been "years" without a drastic improvement doesnt surprise me. But now that they have great bones customization wise, franchise mode wise, etc, they can build off that and focus more on gameplay.
    Good luck, devs!
    RetroDee4Three
    "This game is trash at best"
    This is one of the most toxic statements that people make when giving "feedback". Its right in line with:
    "The game is garbage"
    "The player movement is trash"
    "Nobody will buy this"
    "Nobody cares about that mode"
    Etc etc
    We have to be better about giving feedback. This game isn't "trash" to many people, a lot of positives exist in this game customization wise, franchise wise, soundtrack wise, etc. Using context when making critiques is vital, including the size of the dev team, money they have to use on the project, licensing obstacles, etc etc.
    Proper feedback would look like:
    "This game is not for me, and will not appeal to a larger audience unless they fix some of the robotic and stiff animations, smooth things out in general, and add more animations. Gameplay is vital, including the first impression when someone initially gets hands on the sticks. Axis falls short here. Catching animations where the receiver doesn't animate, the ball just "attaches" to him (early 90s Madden like), tackles that look far from organic and lack physics, offensive and defensive line intelligence that doesnt mimic the real sport, etc. For most, gameplay is still #1 most important in regards to enjoyment, and staying power (continuing to play for a longer period of time). For Axis 2020, gameplay should be the ultimate focus, it's where the majority of time should be spent.
    While the franchise mode is robust, the customization endless, and commentary acceptable, it has many on field issues that hold it back from being a competitor. Some of this is obviously because of the size of the development team, and money they can use in the project, but that doesnt change the fact that it needs to feel good on the sticks, and look smoother on the field animation wise. It looks like they spent 90% of the development cycle on making franchise mode and customization more robust, and only 10% on the on field improvements. I wish they had gone in vice versa, and spent more time on the gameplay front."
    Saying something is "trash" or "garbage" and leaving it at that, doesnt help anybody, not the average person reading it, or the developers who may have eyes on it. "This game is trash" tells the developers one thing, that you dont like it. It doesn't target what you dont like about it, what you would like to see improve, or anything else for that matter
    That example feedback above is mine. I am a basketball gamer 99% of the time, and I see the "this is trash" feedback constantly, and it's super frustrating and toxic. I had someone tell me that "Nobody plays with retro teams" and "MyLeague is dead, everybody plays online now, nobody cares about it". Those statements are as toxic and failing in context as much as a blanket statement of "This game is trash".
    This was your comment on the NBA 2K20 patch thread:
    "How do you have a patch this big and only leave us with ambiguous information like "many more fixes"?"
    You are upset because they used a blanket statement like "many more fixes" because that didnt help you understand what fixes were implemented in the game. That is no different than you saying "The game is trash", and leaving it at that. 2K team stating "many more fixes" didnt help you, and your statement saying the game was trash doesnt help the developers. It's a two way street, we have to do our part as well.
    We can do better than that. Help the developers and help the average person reading through, otherwise what is the point of commenting?
    You can also state the game is not for you, as opposed to saying its trash. Not everybody is going to provide the same amount of detail, and the number of bullet points will be different depending on the person. But the "this is trash" stuff has to go.

    I mentioned, I think it was in the Madden 20 bugs and glitches thread, that as a programmer myself (though not a game dev), I cut a lot of slack on AI issues since I can't possibly imagine how difficult it is to simulate human AI using 1s and 0s. To that end, the people who know real football the best will never, can never be completely satisfied because to make AI think exactly like humans requires someone above human intelligence to design it. But things like the user interface, missing features, little things that seem to go wrong year after year, penalties not being called that should, that's unacceptable in a game that costs $60 and that they've had 30 years to work on, things that make you wonder why half the dev team hasn't been fired. It's clear to me that the things that ARE working well in Madden are just a result of coasting, that they need fresh blood, maybe people who give a damn. But let's put the cards on the table, at the risk of making a political statement and I don't care who this offends... when you have an exclusive deal to produce NFL licensed content, you really lose all incentive for improvement. Axis, with all its faults, I think when you consider the fact that it hasn't been out long, and has a team and budget a fraction of the size EA can throw at it, looks pretty damn good and with the new college game Maximum Football. Just think - a small company with three employees, all part-time, they're making EA look like chumps, I'd be embarassed to work there. Sure Axis is not as good but given their limited resources and budget it's making the EA team look bad. I think in a fair environment, the good devs would command more money to avoid them jumping ship to places like Access, and the other half would have been canned long ago. I used to work in the education field, and saw the same thing - the worst professors were the tenured ones. Most of them little more than dead weight. I'm sure the Madden devs have some professional pride, but there's nothing like the incentive that free market non-monopoly competition gives you.
    servo75
    I mentioned, I think it was in the Madden 20 bugs and glitches thread, that as a programmer myself (though not a game dev), I cut a lot of slack on AI issues since I can't possibly imagine how difficult it is to simulate human AI using 1s and 0s. To that end, the people who know real football the best will never, can never be completely satisfied because to make AI think exactly like humans requires someone above human intelligence to design it. But things like the user interface, missing features, little things that seem to go wrong year after year, penalties not being called that should, that's unacceptable in a game that costs $60 and that they've had 30 years to work on, things that make you wonder why half the dev team hasn't been fired. It's clear to me that the things that ARE working well in Madden are just a result of coasting, that they need fresh blood, maybe people who give a damn. But let's put the cards on the table, at the risk of making a political statement and I don't care who this offends... when you have an exclusive deal to produce NFL licensed content, you really lose all incentive for improvement. Axis, with all its faults, I think when you consider the fact that it hasn't been out long, and has a team and budget a fraction of the size EA can throw at it, looks pretty damn good and with the new college game Maximum Football. Just think - a small company with three employees, all part-time, they're making EA look like chumps, I'd be embarassed to work there. Sure Axis is not as good but given their limited resources and budget it's making the EA team look bad. I think in a fair environment, the good devs would command more money to avoid them jumping ship to places like Access, and the other half would have been canned long ago. I used to work in the education field, and saw the same thing - the worst professors were the tenured ones. Most of them little more than dead weight. I'm sure the Madden devs have some professional pride, but there's nothing like the incentive that free market non-monopoly competition gives you.

    Oh 100%, small dev team, doing it for the love of the sport (both cases, Maximum and Axis). Its vital that we give detailed feedback to these folks in a constructive way, without using blanket statements and insults like "this is trash" or "this game is trash" or "the gameplay is trash". They need feedback they can work off of.
    I find It incredibly impressive (what both Axis and Maximum has done) but the critiques still stand, and the gameplay stuff animation wise needs to be smoothed out in order to appeal to a larger audience and for them to gain more of the marketshare in the football gaming space.
    I think if they spend the large majority of the time over the next year working on the gameplay, the ON FIELD action, I think you will see the best Axis Football yet in 2020.
    RetroDee4Three

    I think if they spend the large majority of the time over the next year working on the gameplay, the ON FIELD action, I think you will see the best Axis Football yet in 2020.

    Well they absolutely have to, tbh. They spent the last two editions focusing more on franchise (and this latest edition almost it's entirely) - and the game has not progressed that well at all, all things being considered, with on the field gameplay (which is the bread and butter of a non-text based football sim) - and that is my major issue with the axis franchise. I do acknowledge that each edition has seen improvement on-field - but when it is a major area of weakness, the proper focus has not been on it, imho. I have been following, owing, and supporting from '16 onward. Yes, they have a small development team, and yes they are very responsive and a good crew - but when you lack resources/finances/etc. etc. you really have to be efficient and very smart with where they are placed.
    Axis Football 2019 is what it is -- nothing is going to change that now and they will be moving on to the next version's development cycle imminently. At least the team has acknowledged that gameplay is weak and it will be the main and top priority focus for 2020. --so maybe the coming edition will be the one that I can actually keep playing for the year.
    RetroDee4Three
    Oh 100%, small dev team, doing it for the love of the sport (both cases, Maximum and Axis). Its vital that we give detailed feedback to these folks in a constructive way, without using blanket statements and insults like "this is trash" or "this game is trash" or "the gameplay is trash". They need feedback they can work off of.
    I find It incredibly impressive (what both Axis and Maximum has done) but the critiques still stand, and the gameplay stuff animation wise needs to be smoothed out in order to appeal to a larger audience and for them to gain more of the marketshare in the football gaming space.
    I think if they spend the large majority of the time over the next year working on the gameplay, the ON FIELD action, I think you will see the best Axis Football yet in 2020.

    I actually thought the "trash" comment referred to Madden, not Axis. I would cut a lot of slack to Axis and the makers of Maximum Football, and think that relative to the available resources, they just might be better games than Madden.
    This game is trash at best. Not worth the time it takes to download. If they made football backwards compatible, it would probably pursue madden in sales right now..
    I really want to like it and I kinda do but there are still too many issues for me to play it full time. One thing that really bugs me is the number of interceptions. I'm seeing at least 7 per game, and that is on the low side. Some games as many as 15. And this is not me being a bad player, I'm talking just a regular cpu vs, cpu game.
    For some reason they still haven't corrected the offense always moving towards the same endzone that has been there for 4 years now. So if the defense intercepts the ball at the 5 yard line, do they get it there? No, they go all the way to the opposite end of the field and start their possession there. It's weird and should have been fixed years ago.
    Overtime is also weird. It basically just keeps adding 1 minute to the 4th quarter until the time runs out. So if it's 2nd down and the time runs out in the 4th quarter, the game just adds another minute to the clock and now it's third down. If a team scores, the game doesn't end. The other team gets the ball and it's business as usual until the time runs out. It's weird.
    There's also issues on punts where the receiving team's players will run into and basically intercept the punt from the punt returner.
    I really think these are the types of things that should have been fixed before spending time on updating franchise mode. What's the point of playing a franchise if the on-field action has so many issues?
    That being said, there are some things the game does well. It's a thing of beauty when the QB hits a receiver in stride with a pass. The running game, which was a problem in priors versions is pretty good this year. It's rare to see a guy carry the ball 15 times for 8 yards. Happened a lot in prior versions.
    The game shows potential but after 4 years, I'm starting to wonder if the lingering issues are ever going to be addressed.

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