I love Out Of The Park. I was looking forward to Beyond The Sideline but it sounds like that project has been delayed indefinitely. I also didn’t want to get a new console so I could play Madden (that’s my co-blogger’s bag, anyhow), so I went searching for games and landed on Front Office Football 7.
Now that I’ve had a chance to put 12 hours into the game, I can begin to give a review. Basically, if you love stats and don’t care at all about interface or graphics or other niceties, FOF7 is a great choice.
This is not an easy game. Starting out with the Buffalo Bills of 2013, I learned through two play-throughs that some players have very different stat lines. In one playthrough, Jerry Hughes was a world-beating defensive end (which is kind of what he ended up being in 2014), but in my second playthrough, he was replacement-level and ended up being one of my first cuts. FOF7 has some level of replayability in that respect: you can start franchises a dozen times and have players vary each time. Tom Brady will always be excellent, but a pretty decent percentage of players will have wide variances.
Speaking of wide variances, you have to trust your scouts…but you can’t trust your scouts. The scouting director will update ratings throughout the season, and players can make big jumps. See a list of awesome-potential undrafted free agents? Go and load up on those at your own peril. Just like in real life, you can uncover a gem, but most of the time, most of those guys will be duds by the end of preseason.
Don’t forget about the draft, signing free agents, and even the occasional trade. This jockeying for players is a major part of the fun that I’ve experienced so far. Trades are very, very difficult to pull off; the AI is rather smart about these trades. I was able to move up 15 slots in the 1st round to draft my QB of the Future Today! but I had to fight to get that pick. This isn’t Madden, where you can trade your 1st round pick for 1-2-4 indefinitely.
As far as signing free agents, I haven’t gotten it down quite right yet. It’s difficult to tell if a player is going to sign, and I’ve done a bit of save-scumming to try to figure out how free agency works.
I haven’t won the championship yet, but have made it to the AFC Championship Game two out of my first three seasons. When simulating games, I really like the HTML page box scores. They are very detailed and include stats like Adjusted Line Yards.
It’s a hard game. The computer makes pretty good decisions and they make it so that there aren’t too many easy beat-the-AI cheats like Madden always has. Maybe it’s easier if I start playing each game and calling the plays myself, but I haven’t done that yet.
The player skills are also difficult to understand. Some players like quarterbacks have a lot of skills, and it’s hard to tell what set of skills is better when comparing two quarterbacks. I’m still a naive player who focuses too much on the overall rating. I’m hoping to pick up more as I play the game.
The UI. Seriously, it’s bad. It took me about two hours of gameplay and a full season to figure out where the free agents are—you go to View Rosters and select Free Agents in the drop-down list. The rest of the UI screens are just as difficult to navigate.
It’s also pretty hard to get player stats and tell what’s going on. Yeah, I know about the “Individual Statistics” screen, and it took me a long time to figure that out. This is the biggest problem with the game: there’s a lot to it, but it takes so long to figure stuff out simply because it’s all hidden behind various unintuitive screens.
Even with the UI issues, I recommend the game. If you’re looking for a great GM simulator, I think this is your best choice. Just don’t expect any niceties; this really is “Spreadsheets: The Game.”