Review by santeechief

"Not Bad For Their First Try"

Graphics (7/10): The graphics in this game are fair, but nothing to write home about. If you have played many of the Madden titles, then you won't be surprised. The players are generally portrayed well, but some of the actual motions can be a little strange. On occasion, you may see a quarterback throw a pass behind him, and actually complete it. In other cases, the referees will call a facemask penalty when a player appeared to be tackled by his waist. The best advice is simply to ignore these quirks, and enjoy the game itself.

Gameplay (8/10): NFL Head Coach is a little different than your average sports game. You have no control over the players. You call the plays in the game (or practice) but it is up to the AI to run the play. When your coach is in his office or in meetings, the system is largely menu-based, giving you options of what you want to say to your coaches or players. The game has a great (and automatic) tutorial which walks you through the various meetings and practices as they occur, and familiarizes you with the coach's office, so that you know how to make depth chart changes and higher free agents.

AI (4/10): This is where the game's few real problems become apparent. At times, a quarterback will throw a pass 60 yards downfield to a receiver in triple coverage, and not even see a wide open receiver five yards away. Other problems are much more drastic, including cases where the quarterback will throw a pass backwards (which counts as a fumble). This doesn't happen often, but of course, once is enough.

Originality (10/10): While this game is obviously based on the "Franchise" mode from the Madden games, it is the first NFL stand-alone strategy game that I have seen. You are the coach. You hire the players, the coordinators, and the position coaches. You determine which practices to run (you have ten or eleven to choose from) and which plays to run in practice. How well your team performs in practice will determine how well they are prepared for the upcoming game. You have a limited number of practice slots, so you must plan accordingly. You also have to instill trust in your coaching staff, or they will offer you less information in staff meetings, and can even become brooding and snippy.

Re-playability (9/10): Like any sports game, you can always have a different experience if you coach another team, or even set up your coach a different way. Also, since you will be able to conduct the draft before your first season begins, you could even coach the same team with an identically set-up coach, and it would still be different. The possibilities are numerous.

Overall (8/10): To put it in a nutshell, if you enjoy the strategy involved in Madden, then you would probably find this game right up your alley. The time involved in making decisions off the field, hiring free agents and draft picks, setting up your playbook, and hiring your coaching staff, means that you can play for hours before ever reaching your first pre-season game. That being said, if the main reason you play sports games is to control the players and rack up as many points, yards, sacks, or whatever as you possibly can, then this is probably not the game for you.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/27/06

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