9

February

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

The other day I was playing Front Office Football 7 when I realized that I’d fit right in as an NFL owner.

Front Office Football 7 (FOF 7) is a management simulation (I’ve written about similar games in this space before) that puts you in control of an NFL franchise. But instead of mashing buttons and controlling players on the field like you would in Madden on the PS4 or XBox1, you call all the shots behind the scenes. You’re sort of a hybrid version of Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and Jerry Jones.

Want to take control of the Packers and see what happens if you ditch draft and develop and sign a bunch of free agents every offseason? Want to see if the Dallas Cowboys could actually make the playoffs with competent management? Want to take control of the Jacksonville Jaguars and see if you can remake their roster into a contender? It’s possible with FOF 7.

I like to use my brain more than my thumbs when playing sports games, and FOF 7 makes that possible. There are other football simulations on the market, but FOF 7 is the only career-based option. In FOF 7, your career lasts as long as you want it to (assuming you don’t get fired), putting you in control of the draft, free agency, hiring and firing of coaches, setting ticket prices, managing depth charts, designing gameplans and pretty much everything associated with running a football team.

It’s an incredibly immersive experience (I don’t call it a game, I call it an experience) and the perfect way to get through these next seven depressing months without Packers football. The FOF franchise has been around for a long time, but FOF 7 was just released a couple of months ago. It’s the first new version to come out since 2007, and the upgrades and improvements are instantly noticeable.

Anyway, the other day I was playing, and at the point in the offseason where you set ticket prices, I caught myself not caring whatsoever about my (pretend) fans. I just jacked those ticket prices sky high. I was coming off an appearance in the NFC Championship game and fan “loyalty” had increased substantially.

“Let’s see how loyal you fans really are,” I thought to myself. “Are you loyal enough to pay $10 more per ticket to sit in the nosebleed section?”

8

April

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

This news about Aaron Rodgers being in the final eight to make the cover of the new Madden video game upset me. No, it didn’t make me angry because I believe in some silly Madden curse and worry about Rodgers breaking his leg or turning into Mark Sanchez, it angered me because Madden isn’t as fun for me as it used to be. I don’t want the QB for my favorite NFL team as the poster boy for a video game that never really does anything to improve year in and year out besides make roster updates.

Before I get to Packers news and links, allow me to pontificate a bit on this topic:

Maybe it’s because I’m 30 years old and growing out of mashing buttons on a controller, but I need more depth in my video games than what Madden offers. Yes, the bells and whistles of Madden are nice and I still buy it every year, but I always feel empty after playing it. The game looks like football. It sounds like football. It’s supposed to be football. But it doesn’t feel like football.

I want to do more in a football video game than just find a few plays that typically work and try to exploit the game’s artificial intelligence. I need player ratings to actually matter, even ratings for interior offensive linemen and backup linebackers. I need an opponent that realistically reacts to my playcalling, allowing me to set up future play calls or adjust on the fly to my opponent’s new strategy. I need realistic statistics and results, not every game ending 45-41 and defensive ends totaling 30 sacks per season.

To be fair, Madden has gotten better in these areas over the last five years. But it’s nowhere near perfect. Perfection may never be achieved, at least in my jaded eyes, but there are football games that come close, much closer than Madden, anyway.

The top two for my money are Front Office Football and Action PC Football. Before explaining why, I need to warn you that both are text-based simulations. This means there are no fancy HD graphics and theater-quality sound effects that make you feel like you’re in an NFL stadium. No button-mashing is required to complete passes or recover a fumble, either. Yet both games feel much more like football than any version of Madden I’ve played.