Every year, gamers and sports fans alike, anxiously wait for the newest installment of EA’s Madden franchise to be released. The popularity of American football continues to grow, and sports gamers continue to search for every opportunity to get their football fix, which includes video games. The most popular NFL text sim to date is EA’s NFL Head Coach Series. Though EA no longer produces these games, a small studio continues to provide the video game community with a pro football text sim. Solecismic Software’s Front Office Football has been a classic among football fans for years, and continues to deliver with each new installment.
However, the question remains, how does Front Office Football 8, fulfill the football fans text-sim needs?
If you are new to text sims, you need to understand that there is a massive amount of reading to be done. Since you won’t be controlling the individual players, you will be in charge of all the inner workings of an NFL franchise. From being the team’s head coach and general manager, to calling the plays on the sideline, Front Office Football 8 is extremely in depth. Players even have the option to change ticket prices prior to the start of a season.
Each season is broken up into different stages: Staff Retention, Staff Draft, Pre-Free Agency, Free Agency, Pre-Draft, Amateur Draft, Late Free Agency, Training Camp, Pre-Season, Regular Season, Playoffs, and End Season.
At the beginning of the season, players will have the opportunity to retain staff members. There is a staff draft that follows, and then the free agency process begins. The game utilizes a “grey chart,” which shows users each available free agent on the market. Here, you can offer contracts to players who will accept their contracts in different stages. For instance, Le’Veon Bell is one of the league’s premier players, and agreed to a contract in Stage Two of free agency. He was also offered a ton of money from various teams around the league. All of the free-agent signings seem fairly accurate, and appear to fill a specific need for each individual team. Before making the signing official, users will have the ability to see how each signing affects players currently on their roster. However, this ultimately doesn’t seem to have a lasting effect on the team, but is a cool feature nonetheless.
After the completion of free agency, the NFL Draft shortly follows. Although scouting isn’t as in-depth as some of the other sports games, FOF8 still does a great job of breaking down each player’s attributes. Similar to free agency, the “green chart” gives users the ability to view the top available prospects at each position. As expected, players have the ability to trade players in addition to picks during the draft. Once the draft is complete, users will have the opportunity to sign any free-agent stragglers prior to the start of training camp. Shortly after, the regular season begins and players will be given the opportunity to play/simulate each game, or even simulate the entire season if they so choose.
Although there is online play, I was unable to dig into the feature as much as I had liked. However, there does appear to be countless options for league commissioners and players alike, so this is always an option for those who prefer to compete against real-world opponents.
Like a majority of most text-sim games on the market, Front Office Football doesn’t offer amazing graphics. In fact, you might think you have traveled back in time and have emerged playing a Windows 98-compatible game. Though the graphics aren’t what many would expect from a video game in today’s world, they don’t completely hinder the game. In fact, I think the retro look and menus add a unique element to the game.
Games don’t look or play the way they do on Sundays. Instead, the entire game is played on a scoreboard, using very little visuals. There are no player likenesses. Instead, a regular-season game looks a lot like what you’d see on NFL.com during game day. You are able to see where the ball is on the field, in addition to the score and down markers. Players have the ability to simulate or play through an entire game. If you choose to call each play, however, games can take up to 10-15 minutes.
All front-office stuff is broken up into three menus; simulation, depth chart and game plan. Many of these windows are cluttered, and as stated before, it will take time to become accustomed to where everything is.
The most important thing for those who are die-hard football fans is the authenticity of the game. All current NFL players are in the game and players are rated on a scale from 0-100. After briefly researching each team’s roster, it appears that Solecismic Software put the time and effort into making these rosters accurate to today’s NFL.
Furthermore, users have the ability to customize each team’s nickname. This does not take long, and helps add to the authenticity of the game. Divisions are already set up to replicate the NFL. Statistically, everything seems to check out. I simulated over a dozen seasons, and did not have any issues with the end results. Developer Jim Grindin has put the time and research into making this one of the more accurate games on the market.
With very little competition on the market, it’s no surprise Front Office Football is the premier text sim available for this sport. Despite the less-than-stellar graphics, FOF8 does all the little things right. The game is as in-depth as any sports game on the market, and kept me coming back for more and more. However, this isn’t a game that you can jump right into as the learning curve is relatively steep. At times, menus seem cluttered and make things difficult for users to navigate through. However, once you take the time and learn all the inner workings of Front Office Football 8, it really is a truly amazing football experience.