Like a first-round pick, Pro Football Simulator (PFS) shows the promise of living up to expectations.
In a market that lacks a true franchise player in the same vein as Out of the Park does for baseball, pro football computer simulations remains in search of the groundbreaking presentation that makes it the lead dog. Front Office Football comes close, but has not made any major changes to its product since 2007; after updating through the 2008-10 season, Solecismic Software has yet to offer an 2011 version that would allow users to run with Cam Newton or J.J. Watt.
Enter Barcode Games, which has taken the ball and gradually improved the game with a series of updates that founder and designer Brooks Piggott has ushered at an almost monthly pace. Since my first foray with the game during the summer, the level of improvement is amazing.
Barcode Games, scores high points on its near endless database of players alone. With its recent expansion to add this year’s rookie class, PFS users can tap into any season from 1950 to the present, providing users a chance to play with everyone from Sid Luckman to Tim Tebow. Seasons can be replayed in a matter of minutes, while the progression of players rise and fall as they go from high-priced rookies to waiting for induction into Canton.
Perhaps the biggest improvement in PFS is that Piggot was able to place players on their respective teams, which puts users in the position to alter the course of NFL history by running with the likes of Lombardi’s Packers, the 1970s Steelers or extending the potential run of the current Saints. The latest update also brings an added element of player personalities that vary from greedy performers to the hopelessly moody.
Another aspect to like about the game is its league options, giving users a choice of 28 different options from the current 32-team NFL to the World Football League. Historical junkies also have the ability to sim on 12 and 14-game schedules while also choosing pre-1974 rules on ties and overtime in the regular season.
What drives PFS is its unique 2D sim, which allows users to watch how the game unfolds. Watch is stressed, because while viewing your players cut through the defense, you cannot call the play, instead, having to set up your game plan on a regular basis. The playbook is deep and rivals anything Front Office Football or Football Mogul can counter, though. Sadly (again, for now), just don’t expect to call the shots when Roger Staubach or John Elway has the ball in the final two minutes of a tight contest. That is made up by the fact users can set up their own custom playbook.
Game play is more smooth; in earlier carnations, running was almost impossible (Adrian Peterson averaging 3.1 yards per carry?), while sacks occurred about as frequent as snow in Hawaii. Stats freaks will also be pleased, as PFS provides a deep wealth of numbers that rivals Front Office Football’s mountainous totals and categories.
Best of all, PFS is an affordable $25 and with its steady stream of updates, there is no worry of having an outdated version. PFS also has a Facebook page with information of when the game is updated along with occasional invites to various online leagues.
I would highly suggest this game. It is an out of the box Christmas gift suggestion for the hardcore football fan and opens the door to an endless stream of possibilities. Like a first round pick, PFS gets better with time and has a great chance to finally fill the gap that longs to be filled for computer football gamers.