Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TV Sports Football

Cinemaware / NEC

I was actually psyched for this game when it first came out. The PC version had a good reputation, and VideoGames & Computer Entertainment magazine gave the Turbo port high scores (this was before I realized that VG&CE regularly gave console ports of popular computer games generous grades). As I quickly discovered, and as everyone now knows, the game is a dud.

Everything on offense is busted. The passing system is the most unintuitive that I've ever experienced in a football game. You need to "aim" the quarterback's arm in the direction that you want him to throw the ball. Cinemaware had good intentions with this system (they wanted you to "lead" your receivers just as real quarterbacks lead theirs), but it feels absolutely awful. Rushing isn't a valid alternative to throwing, as your running back can't create his own holes at the point of attack. You have to wait for your offensive line to create a gap, and even if you manage to sneak through said gap, you won't get far before a linebacker decks you.

All aspects of defense actually work well enough, and I like how the players grunt and growl with every tackle. But the computer-controlled offenses are inept, so there isn't much you actually need to do on "D." And the gameplay is far too slow to be much fun anyway.

Cinemaware cut some corners in a fashion that was typical of them. You don't get to kick the ball off, just like you don't get to participate in tip-offs in TV Sports Basketball. Electronic Gaming Monthly claimed that the game has a good halftime show, but I don't recall ever seeing a halftime show. And while I'm certainly not the kind of gamer who demands real players and teams in his sports games, I do like there to be some individuality among a fantasy league's players. TV Sports Basketball has its speedy guards, deadly shooters, and slow benchwarmers, but the players in this game just seem like generic bums waddling around a field.

The one thing that's handled extremely well is field-goal kicking. In fact, the way to have "fun" with TVSF is to shun the regular game modes entirely and head to practice, where you can stick to attempting field goals. The close-up field-goal screen actually looks pretty good, and the attempts the game has you make can be tricky. Doing nothing but kicking will get boring relatively quickly, of course, but it really is about all the chip has to offer.

Needless to say, Cinemaware didn't quite get an official NFL license.

Feels like watching a real game on TV, eh?

There isn't much to the playbook, but on offense you should stick with just one play anyway: the Pro-set crossing pattern.

With that play called, you can leave your QB's arm pointing straight ahead. Your receiver will cross over the middle...

...for an easy completion almost every time.

I think I actually did play through an entire season back when I first obtained the game. The things we'll do to convince ourselves we've gotten our money's worth...

Kicking is definitely the coolest-looking and most enjoyable part.

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