Who would have thought that a coaching simulator would be the next big thing in sports. Europe has been going crazy over this type of game for years and now EA has finally come up with one for the US. NFL Head Coach takes the franchise mode from Madden but kicks it up a few notches so you have an insane level of control over every aspect of your team. You only get to sit back and watch the on-field action, however, which proves to be another weak point of an interesting, but flawed, game.
- Title: NFL Head Coach
- Platform: Xbox, PS2
- Publisher: EA
- Developer: EA Tiburon
- ESRB: E For Everyone
- Genre: NFL football coaching sim
- Pros: Very deep, satisfying when you get into it
- Cons: Bland presentation, watching videogame football isnt nearly as fun as actually playing
NFL Head Coach has you doing pretty much everything a real coach does and then some in order to put together the best team each Sunday. This includes choosing the right assistant coaches and trainers, dealing with agents and players, scouting new players, drafting players, running meetings, keeping players motivated with pep talks, calling the plays each Sunday along with much, much more.
Along with the huge single-player mode there is also online multiplayer. In this mode you just call the plays and work on overall strategy but unlike a normal football game you are completely at the mercy of the AI and the stat sheets. If you pick a bad team, they are going to play bad no matter what you do. If you pick a good team, you should be able to roll over most people. Pitting your coaching prowess against others on Xbox Live is a cool idea, but it isnt really all that fun in practice.
There are a lot of problems with all of this, however. First off, in order to be successful at all you have to literally do everything yourself. Sure, you can sim through things such as contract negotiations or practices, but if you do youll find the AI has made a lot of really dumb mistakes that can (and do) completely screw you by the end if the season. This results in the game quickly becoming tedious and repetitive and not really all that fun. Choosing draft picks, arranging depth charts, making trades, and all that can be a lot of fun, but you can do all of those fun things in Madden. NFL Head Coach is also crippled by the fact that you can only do a handful of things each day so you can only make a couple of changes before your time is up. Pretty lame.
My biggest problem with NFL Head Coach is that once you get through the tedious micro-management stuff and actually get to gameday, the action on the field isnt really all that good. Simply put, the AI players are morons. You can call the plays and give pep talks on the sideline, but having to rely on the AI to make good plays and actually play an exciting game of football is extremely aggravating.
Graphics and Sound
The presentation is another weak point in NFL Head Coach. The management aspects are just a maze of menus and nothing you see or do is really all that intuitive. It takes a while before you know what everything does and where everything is in the menus. Most of your time is spent looking at menus but youll also see some bland shots of your office or the team conference room every now and then.
On gameday, the game looks and sounds just like a Madden game but without all of the polish we have come to expect. There are a lot of graphical glitches and clunky animations that we wouldnt see if this was a Madden game. One nice aspect is that you have a ton of camera angles to choose from while you watch the game including sideline and broadcast shots that do a great job of emulating what we see on TV.
In the end, NFL Head Coach is a decent game but it certainly isnt going to appeal to everyone. It all really boils down to how much control you want to have in your games. If you dont mind sitting back and watching the AI play football for you, and you also are a fan of the deeper micro-management aspects of simulations or RPGs, then NFL Head Coach will be right up your alley. If, on the other hand, you cant stand sitting back and watching your bonehead quarterback completely ignore the wide open receiver running up the right sideline 9 times out of 10, then perhaps NFL Head Coach isnt going to be for you. Personally, it all comes down to this for me: I can play fantasy football and scream at my TV watching real NFL games on Sundays and it doesnt cost me $40. But I do know that there are a lot of people out there that will get a kick out of what NFL Head Coach has to offer. Definitely rent it first if you are interested, but I think most people will be better off just waiting for Madden 07.