On paper, the Jaguars were capable of having a good season. I expected to go 8-8 with a shot at making the playoffs as a Wild Card team. We ended up winning two games more than expected, going 10-6 and missing a divisional title by a half a game. The Texans managed to go 10-5-1 on their way to winning the division. The playoff matchup was a tough one, but we ended up losing to the Texans in a bitter game. The 49ers and the Patriots would go on to ultimately compete for a Super Bowl.
Chris Conley had a career year behind the play of Nick Foles. He caught 1,400 yards, 8 TDs with 29(!) catches of 20+ yards. But he also dropped a whopping 14 total balls. I guess that is forgivable considering Foles targeted him 184 times throughout the year. After the playoff loss, Conley immediately indicated he wanted a new deal and was on my radar as a potential holdout for next season.
Front Office Football 8 excels at creating realistic outcomes, but its ultimate strength is in the way that it achieves this. Statistics drive these outcomes, lots of statistics. The game goes out of its way to make sure that the player has access to as many statistics as they can think of, and the results are a stathead’s dream come true.
Stats For The Stat Throne
Front Office Football 8 is a stat generator of the highest order. If you are someone who likes to dive into the nitty-gritty details of your team, your players, and your opponents, you are immediately going to feel right at home with this game.
A lot of games are good at pumping out stats, but Front Office Football 8 makes sure the stats are useful. These advanced statistics make it so that you can dig in and find out what is going on with your team so that you can target areas to improve on and adapt as the season and career progresses.
You might have had a running back rush for 1,200 yards, yet your offense still struggled. What happened? Upon further investigation, you realize that your star running back has an abysmal 3rd down conversion rate, which tanked a lot of promising drives. Now you can target a specialized third-down back in the draft or free agency to complement your bruiser.
It is these kinds of observations that make you feel like you are an actual GM of a real NFL team while playing.
Better yet, these stats present themselves in a way that is easy to manage. You can sort, shuffle, and filter to your heart’s content. Some games spit out a lot of stats but then make you slog through a poor UI to find what you’re looking for. The UI of Front Office Football 8 is designed for sifting through statistics.
You can filter and sort every kind of statistic or player group with a couple of clicks of the mouse. This feature is something you will quickly learn to appreciate as you begin to tinker with your team.
(Lack of) Graphics
In the modern age of gaming, it is easy to forget that sport management games started as text simulators. The original games that our current favorites are built on top of had no graphical representation of the things going on on the field. Front Office Football 8 is in the vein of the old text simulators. There are no fancy graphics, no modern UI elements, and no graphical representation of plays or players. Everything is presented as numbers and text.
At its core, numbers and text are all you need to appreciate this game, but if you are expecting a modern graphical interface, you are going to be disappointed.
That is not to say that the UI is terrible. It’s not. It is just outdated to the modern eye. It is optimized for what it does best. It presents statistics and essential information in a concise and common-sense way that many recent games could benefit from.
It is functional, useful, and Spartan, but it is not pretty.
Once you get into the game proper, it flows exceptionally well. Each season is broken up into manageable chunks that quickly become a rhythm during play. You can fly through seasons as quickly as you want, or you can agonize over every game plan in an attempt to squeeze as much as possible out of your team.
Front Office Football 8 offers a robust gameplan system that makes you feel like a head coach. You can set parameters for almost every conceivable situation on the field. It is possible to set up a general gameplan for your team as a whole based on a philosophy, let your coordinators set the game plan, or you can call each play individually during every game.
You can be the ultimate tinkerer, or you can set a philosophy, load up your roster with pieces you think are a good fit, and let the season fly on its own. Each season can be simulated in less than ten minutes, and it is possible to build a world quickly.
After each game, the engine is generating a ton of stats. Each player is accruing basic stats and advanced stats, and these are being compiled into box scores, stat sheets, and analysis tools, which allows you to go in after each game and figure out exactly what happened.
The ultimate accumulation of this system shines late in the season and in the playoffs. Each team is building a profile for itself, and the game then presents this to you in the best scouting report on the market. Many sports games give you scouting reports before each game, but they usually only provide information you already know. Front Office Football 8 shows its chops with their scouting reports by offering a complete statistical breakdown of your opponent for you to look over.
This screen is the perfect example of the game’s ability to crunch numbers and display useful information in a digestible way.
Once you get a feel for how the game plays out, it runs quickly and smoothly, allowing you to get absorbed in the numbers and outcomes of your team.
The actual games are only half of the battle in American football, and, again, this game does its best to show that. After the games are done for the season, many times, the work is just beginning for you.
Free agency is involved, allowing for twelve rounds of bidding, negotiation, and targeting of free agents before the amateur draft. Despite being light on graphics, these players have a lot of personalities. Some players won’t want to play for your team even if you offer them the most money. Some players go on to hold out for better contracts that are already on your roster.
You could easily spend hours on a single bout of free agency in this game trying to craft the perfect team. This part of the game has a lot of realism to it that surprised me on my first few playthroughs. After Chris Conley’s fantastic season for my Jaguars, I took it for granted that he had years left on his deal until he held out for the first four games of the following season. A cornerback I was targeting in free agency took an offer from the Packers that was three million lower than mine because he didn’t want to play for my system.
This realism made it disappointing how unrealistic the staff hiring phase of this game is. Head coaches, assistants, and coordinators are chosen in a draft style system that is confusing and frustrating. Instead of bidding on staff as you do players, you have a chance to retain the people you want, and then the rest are put into a pool, and you go through and draft people like the new player draft. It feels like an odd standout for a game where everything else feels so realistic.
Once you get used to it, it just becomes another part of the game, but at first, it is a jarring departure from reality.
Luckily, the new player draft is one of the strongest parts of the game.
Like many other aspects of the game, the draft comes with oodles of personality and statistics that make drafting a fun and technical experience. You can sort by a variety of unique markers such as 40-yard dash speed, development score, and position score.
For example, if you need an immediate impact starter, you might want to take a player with a higher position score and development rate but a lower ceiling, or you can take a guy with low development score but a ton of raw talent to develop over time. The tools they give you allow you to have full control over the draft process and the prospects.
Front Office Football 8 is the king of the American Football simulation genre right now. The game breaks down the intricacies and nuances of the game of football into manageable and digestible nuggets of stats and numbers, which allows you to have full immersion. This simulation is a little heavy on the text side, but if you love numbers, statistics, and the game of football, you are going to love this game.
As the eighth iteration of a legendary franchise, the simulation engine, outcomes, and game flow are unmatched. The only thing keeping this game from ultimate greatness is the lack of a modern graphical interface. Luckily, word on the street is the next version is being developed in the OOTP engine.
As of right now, in terms of overall experience Front Office Football 8 is the unchallenged king of the American football simulation.
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