Football continues to be one of the biggest sports in America. People like to watch it and gamers like to play it. Cyanide Studio and Focus Home Interactive want a piece of the action and thus Front Page Sports Football was brought into the world. Currently in closed beta, this will be a free-to-play browser-based (Microsoft Silverlight) game when it goes live. What is Front Page Sports Football? What type of game play can you expect?
Front Page Sports is a management simulation game that puts the player in the shoes of a virtual head coach. Options abound in sim games and this one is no exception. However, right from the very beginning you’ll be greeted with a friendly tutorial and help system. It will walk you through a few quick steps to get you started and playing in no time. In a game such as this, a horrible tutorial will ruin the experience and prevent many from getting to the meat of the game. Thankfully, the developers have managed to create a help system that is actually helpful.
Players can choose a custom coach picture, uniform colors, logos, and city names. Since there aren’t officially licensed players or teams from the NFL, players will be transported to an alternate football universe. There are three different championships that you can fight for: Non-professional, University or Professional.
As you begin, you set up depth charts and review rosters. Recruit and trade players to get your team exactly as you want before training camp. The training mode is very robust and allows you to run drills, review videos, and more. Each training type has a specific benefit and you get to choose which players get the stat boost. Do you choose to make you best player even better or do you take the opportunity to groom your weakest links?
Once you’ve taught your team and ran them ragged from training it’s time for tactics. Here you will set up how your team to respond in different situations. You can be as general or as specific as you want (ie. the type of offensive play for a 3rd and 7 situation when your down by 10 points in the 4th quarter). It doesn’t stop there. You can then manage the play book your team uses. The choices are solid and you’ll be hard pressed to find missing plays.
Games are played every few days. Since you can’t directly control the action on the field, there’s no point in waiting up for the simulation to run. However, you will be able to go back and watch any game that has been played. This feature works well and allows you to choose to watch individual plays, posessions, or the entire game. There are two different views: top down with symbols or isometric with player models.
The entire season is done within 30 calendar days with a one game championship played to determine the winner of the league. Trophies are then awarded for division winners all the way up to the big game. As the seasons (real-world months) go by, players can review the performance from previous seasons to see how they can improve. All of the statistics you would expect are available to help you decide who to keep and who to trade.
Front Page Sports Football is going to offer micro transactions to allow you to get more from your game. Gamers will be able to purchase points that can be used for larger play books, more training sessions, greater control over the team tactics and more. It’s still a free-to-play game but there are many incentives for the player to invest a little money to maximize their enjoyment.
As Front Page Sports Football is still in beta testing, there are some bugs to work out. It would be nice to be able to set up a custom league to have only people you select join with a schedule on which you agree. The required resolution doesn’t work well for a smaller screen since the user is unable to scroll the game screen. Also, the fact that the game continues to move on whether or not you login could scare the more casual crowd off.
However, even in just the few weeks since I first gained access they have been making continual additions and tweaks to the game play. The problems that I ran into were minor and the developers seem genuinely interested in working on correcting them. It will be interesting to see how the game continues to grow before it is released. If you are a football fan on a budget, Front Page Sports Football is on course to try and be exactly what you want.