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The Sports Desk – Digging Into The Offseason With Front Office Football 8

The football offseason has begun, and with some free agents already signing with new teams, and the combine and then the draft coming this spring, there's plenty of work to be done on your franchise. For all you GMs ready to burn the midnight oil for your team, Front Office Football 8 is here to fill that need. The text simulator came out late last year on PC, and offers the kind of offseason and gameday options that any wanna-be GM and coach would appreciate.

The game features editable teams from all the NFL cities (you can also relocate your team or get a new stadium) with real-life player names, and fans of franchise management will appreciate that there are amenities such as multiple rounds of free agency (with multiple stages within each round), a coaching carousal, draft scouting, the ability to tweak salary offers, and other considerations. Players themselves can holdout, they have attitudes to consider, as well as various personality traits such as loyalty and fan popularity.

Playing through a season and offseason, I liked the info and options at my disposal, whether that was gauging a relatively weak free agent crop, picking through the players dropped later in the summer, gauging a draft prospects' potential and possible "volatility," and evaluating players before the draft and after they're on the team. I think the game does a good job of presenting the right kind of information such as a players' combine numbers, medical history, or contract wishes, without making drafting players or signing free agents a 100-percent done deal. There are few of such situations in real-life football, and the game replicates that fine line between giving you enough information to make informed decisions without making you swim in it. The game also comes with an in-depth guide, which is definitely worth studying.

Playing games seems pretty solid as well. I appreciate being able to see playart of the myriad plays available (you can construct your own playbooks from the plays at hand) as well as seeing which player is the principle target of the play. I also like how developer Solecismic has sprinkled some text descriptions for plays as they unfold such as telling you that a throw by the QB wasn't even close, or who made a key block on the play.

Stats wise, apart from EJ Manuel having the highest QB rating one season, I didn't see anything too glaringly off in terms of the stats showing up for players over the course of a year. I did think that some of the completion percentages during single games for average QBs were high, possibly padded out by the number of check downs I saw to the fullback. One of the cool things the game does with stats is that it shows you how many targets and catches a receiver has (and the carries/yards for a running back) before you call a play. Thus, you can get a quick look at who's hot and what's been working. Conversely, I didn't see a way to manage my depth chart during games, which was frustrating when I wanted to switch out my ineffective running back.

I really liked playing Front Office Football 8, and can see it being a nice complement to Madden, allowing me to concentrate on that very important part of the football season – the offseason.

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Have a suggestion or comment? Put it in the comments section below, send me an email, or reach me on twitter at @mattkato.

 

BOARD SLIDING IN STEEP'S ALASKA

Steep's free Alaska update is now available, and apart from introducing a new mountain with 17 drop zones, 21 challenges, branded challenges, 37 points of interest, a mountain story, a raised level cap (25 to 30), and more, one of the things players will notice is that at least one of the new mountain's villages includes plenty of rails to grind and slide. This was possible in the original, but not a point of emphasis.

I tried out the Alaska villages' and while glad they were included in the update, found that they weren't quite as satisfying as I had hoped they would be. Games with rail grinding/sliding always face the dilemma of wanting to make it easy to let players get on a rail and stay on it, but without it feeling like they are being sucked or stuck to the rail. The problem I have with Steep's board slides currently is that it's easy to slip off of them and it feels floaty, like you're not really on the rail. I compare this with series like Skate and Tony Hawk, where grinds and board slides were very satisfying. You also don't score any extra points for what you do on a rail, which is disappointing. Hopefully this is something the team can keep working on, as I want to attack rails when I see them, not avoid them.

For more on the game's future plans, check out this interview and Steep Afterwords dissection with creative director Igor Manceau.

Sliding off the rail a little too easy.

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Trying to go from trick to trick on the rail.

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THE TICKER
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week.

MLB The Show 17's Presentation Info, Pave Your Path in Road to the Show & Quick Manage
A handful of new info has come out about the game, including making off-the-field decisions that can impact your Road to the Show career, a way to quickly manage and sim Franchise games, and a partnership with MLB Network with new announcers Harold Reynolds and Dan Plesac.

Old Time Hockey Gets Release Date & Switch Release  

Vote for Who's On The Digital Cover For Out Of The Park Baseball 18

UniqueGames Working to Get Handball Manager & 3 Other Titles To Steam Via Team Initiative 

VR Golf Online Adds Multiplayer & Cross-Platform Play 

Bethesda's Todd Howard Has An Idea About How To Bring NCAA Back 
I love that Howard is passionate about NCAA, but in my opinion, everything EA has said and done on this front shows that they are being extremely cautious about any return to college football. I think they are waiting for nothing short of the full legal resolution of the NCAA and players' student/athlete status before returning. EA's already had to settle one lawsuit on this front, and I doubt there's a lawyer in the building that's going to risk another.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

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