As I wind down my review for NFL Head Coach, I wanted to share a few more observations now that I have played a full season of games with the Abner-Built 2006 Browns. Here ‘goes:
- Without the FOFC PC Mod, the game is ass. It’s a novelty. With the mod, it’s a significantly better game because you can now change quarter length, gameplay sliders (that now work), and the difficulty level (which was preset to Pro w/o the ability to edit it).
- I played the season w/o changing the difficulty and the Browns finished 12-4. This on its face isn’t a huge deal because in the NFL teams can turn it around from season to season. But my team finished 12-4 despite Philip Rivers earning a 68.9 QB Rating. It was a weird year…
- I usually get a lot of flak for ripping big budget sports games for screwing up simulated stats. NCAA 06, MLB 2K, NFL 2K, etc. I ask: is it ok to rip a coaching simulation for the same thing? After the season ended I checked the league stats and saw that the CPU never uses its backup running back unless the starter gets hurt. Are you ok with 4 backs getting *500* carries? 500. Several backs ran for 1500+ yards and only averaged 3.2, 3.5 or 3.6 per carry. 400 carries is a ton for a back — 500 is a literal shitload.
- However, this bizarre blip aside, the stats in Head Coach aren’t too hateful. Not great, sorta Madden-like. (DTs get way too many simmed sacks, for example)
- I saw 4 kickoffs returned for TDs in the games I played. (I played 13 of the 16, and have not yet started the playoffs)
- The CPU returned a grand total of ONE punt. The rest were all fair catches. My returner only returns kicks if I select PR Block. The blockers that race downfield do not attempt to block the gunners. Ever.
- My Dline had 2 sacks the whole year. My LBers and safeties had their share, but the line gets mauled in this game. Maybe it is because I run a 3-4? Whatever it is, the DEs *never*, not once, beat an OT off the snap and got to the QB. Every DL sack (for me or the CPU) was a coverage sack. Maybe a pass block slider change is in order…
- Without messing with the mod tool, the CPU QBs are *very* Madden-like. What I mean by this is that you may play a game where the CPU completes 55-60% of its passes. You’ll play just as many games where it goes 6 of 28 with 4 picks. This goes back to my first point — w/o that mod tool this game is ass. Why they didn’t include sliders when they were already there in the code is anyone’s guess. They make an enormous difference.
- As earlier noted in previous posts, the interface and off the field design might be the most tedious in the history of gaming. Of course you can sim and skip over the practices and the other daily boring routines (really — the weekly staff meeting..could that be anymore useless? Oh, yeah, before I forget — the Browns finished top 5 in pass defense with a DB coach rated an 11 — out of 99. These coaches don’t mean shit, apparantly.) Anyway, even though you can sim past the tedium, it is in your best interest not to because this is where you’ll get the vast majority of your injuries — during contact drill practice that you simulate. My team suffered injuries in the 3 games I simmed. The rest of the games? Not a one. That’s right. Not one injury unless I simmed the practice week.
- In addition, if you sim the week your players do not improve nearly as much than when you manually do the practices, which gets boring real fast.
- EA needs to retool the design of this game so that we can do what we want when we want to do it. Screw the whole “coach time” thing. Let me change my friggin’ depth chart as much as I want to without seeing multiple load screens because I only get two actions per “office hour.” That’s asinine. Everything is a hassle. If you want to sign a FA during the year due to injury (which as I said only happens if you sim) you can’t just call up an agent. You need to go into your calander and hunt for the Sign Players task and switch that with your current task. The entire interface is like this. It’s mind-numbingly ridiculous.
- Gary Gorski, text sim developer who is now working on Total Pro Golf, said this about the GUI on FOFC:
I’m not saying its not realistic – yeah in an hour or half hour block you can probably only sit down and call 3 GMs and talk about trades or call 3 agents about signing their players…and if coaching the virtual Detroit Lions was my real job that would be fine but I despise the fact that I had to play 9 real hours of game play to get to one preseason game.
My gripe is that they made things realistic that are tedious and then abandonded reality in the things that would have been fun. 30 seconds to make a trade during someone else’s pick in the draft? Why not give me 5-15 minutes there to work the phones and make trades and why can I only try to make like three trades during the draft? Do real NFL GMs contact fewer than three other teams the entire draft day? To me the day to day stuff is just a tedious click fest – that’s great that you can only add two plays to the playbook in a half hour – but doing it that way means hundreds of more clicks to get in and out of that screen over and over again.
Like I said earlier, the idea is great and the execution was terrible. I think the only reason people are not up in arms about this is because of the idea of a 3D football management sim is such a sexy one that some people are willing to overlook the design flaws because they want it so bad. You tell me though, if you played Total College Basketball and I made you only able to call 3 recruits per session in the day and took away the automatic weekly call list, made you click on every individual player to learn anything about him as opposed to giving you the ability to view stats and ratings for the entire team at a glance and subjected you to pointless meetings with the AD where he tells you for the third week in a row that you need to recruit a power forward or with your coaching staff flip flopping on the same two players every week would you find those things acceptable or would you be ripping it as a tedious click fest? I’m not ripping on anyone who likes it – if you’re satisfied with Head Coach then good for you – I liked the idea and wanted it very much to be that perfect version of what some of us always hoped Front Page Sports would evolve into and to me it was just designed so poorly that its often times more frustrating than fun.
“I think the only reason people are not up in arms about this is because of the idea of a 3D football management sim is such a sexy one that some people are willing to overlook the design flaws because they want it so bad.”
This is exactly it. I’m just as guilty. Even with the sadistic GUI and the other football bizarro-ness, I’m still playing it…about to play the Jags in the playoffs. Head Coach is the guy sitting on horseback with a stick, a string and a carrot. We’re the horse.