Reviewed: February 10, 2007
Released: December 8, 2006
It takes a special breed of gamer to enjoy a game like Football Mogul 2007. While companies like EA and 2k Sports are pushing the sports genre to new levels of realism, both visually and from a gameplay standpoint, you have to wonder who actually wants to play a game rooted solely in numbers and text? Sadly, not myself, but as the resident sports editor this recently released football simulation was assigned to me, perhaps as punishment for my recent 8-month hiatus. And here I was expecting a party.
If you have ever taken on the role as GM in Madden franchise mode or played any of the Dynasty or Career modes in any of countless other console or even PC football games you already know what to expect, at least from an excitement level. There simply is none. Football Mogul 2007 is all about the back-end of the sport, the tedious office work, hiring, firing, generating revenue, paying dividends, and worrying about salary caps during the next seasonís draft. Just imagine you purchased the latest Splinter Cell game only to find in this adventure you get to play as the janitor, emptying wastebaskets and cleaning toilets.
As boring as I found Football Mogul 2007 to be from a gameplay standpoint, I do have to commend the designers from sparing us no amount of detail including incredible stat tracking for all the teams and players as well as income, franchise value, stadium seating, and income per capita of your home city. It all plays into a very complicated calculation system that generates team worth, income, and the cash you pay out to the owner(s).
This is one of those games that is 97% setup and 3% gameplay, but even when you get to the game there really isnít that much football flavor, at least in the traditional sense of what the genre has become. Watching a text-based version of the game unfold with no commentary or flashy graphics is about as much fun as watching the score ticker scroll updates on my Sirius radio.
If you prefer a more hands-on approach you can actually switch from simulating a game to actually calling the plays. This is where that 3% comes in, but only if you enjoy strategizing more than actually running and passing the ball yourself. You get to pick plays from your playbook and manage the clock using your time-outs. Picking your plays highlights the team members critical to that play.
Rather than watching the game unfold, even as a series of X's and O's, you will have to rely on play-by-play text-only comentary to describe the action. This is about as much fun as listening to a game on the radio, and pretty frustrating when you know you have other game alternatives for actually playing football and "seeing" the results.
I tried the game both ways and ultimately had to take manual control of the game simply because the AI was pretty daft. For a game that boasts more than 2,400 player stats used to generate intelligent plays, I saw way too many inconsistent and just plain stupid plays unfold during simulated games. Once I took control of my beloved Cowboys, at least they started playing better. I canít say the same for my AI-controlled opponents.
The Dynasty mode in Football Mogul 2007 spans numerous years so you always have to be planning ahead, preparing to let some players go to free up salary funds or strategically trade a #1 draft pick so you can get an extra pick in the next draft. Youíll enter into contract negotiations, scout colleges, hire medical staff, and dictate the prices of beer and pizza.
One feature that did impress me, and will certainly appeal to those who actively play fantasy football, is the ability to export your entire game standings to HTML and post your success (or failure) on the Internet. This is about as close to a multiplayer experience as you get with Football Mogul 2007.
The game ships with the 2006-2007 team rosters and all of this information is kept in a simple text file that is easily edited to reflect any changes you want to make to keep your game in synch with the real-world NFL, or simply tweak the rosters to your liking.
There is no NFL licensing so you wonít be seeing any official team logos, which is really the only graphics youíll see in this game aside from some digitized photos during the trade process and some monochrome splash screens. Everything else is pages and pages of numbers and spreadsheets and scrolling news tickers. Itís a dream come true if you work on Wall Street and crunch numbers for a living. You can probably play this game at work (in front of your boss) and heíll think youíre actually working.
Actually, I do have to admit, that for a text-only game the presentation is pretty attractive, and for as complicated as the game flow is, the nice screen layouts and menus certainly ease some of the pain and add a bit of non-licensed flavor to the mix.
In keeping with the stealth aspect of playing this game in the office, Football Mogul 2007 wonít betray you with fancy sounds, crowd cheers, or witty color commentary. All youíll hear is the clickity-clack of Betty, typing away in the cubicle next to yours and Stanís phone ringing over in marketing.
SeriouslyÖno sound, no music, no fun, at least from an audio standpoint.
The two biggest things this game has going for it are the $20 price tag and the fact that the system requirements are so low you can probably play this game on one of those new TI-BAII financial calculators. Okay, not really. You do need a PC, but the stats to run this game are actually lower than the requirements for the OS required to play it. Bottom line Ė if your PC can run Windows you can play this game.
As for long-lasting gameplay value, your Dynasty mode can last for years and years and it can take the better part of a week to play a season; shorter if you let the computer simulate the games, but weíve already covered the evilness in that scenario. Avoid the AI and actually ďplayĒ the game or donít even bother.
So ultimately, if you are an accountant, a business manager, or simply donít have the skill or reflexes to play a real football game, you might find some cerebral enjoyment in working out the complicated details required to get your team on the field every Sunday. You'll certainly enjoy this game more than the rest of us.
Itís games like Football Mogul 2007 that clearly show the differences between the nerds in the high school chess club and the macho football players and why those two groups should never intertwine. But donít take my word for it. Go download the free demo and try it for yourself.