What is Axis Football 2016?
Axis Football 2016 is the second edition in Axis Games’ professional football sports simulation franchise.
As an Australian who considers themselves to be an armchair football fan, I tend to anticipate every quality American football game that hits PC. Unfortunately, this has been an all too rare occurrence. There are very few viable options when it comes to football games that allow you to actually play the game. Gamers do have a few other options when it comes to actual sports management games. Sadly, EA has spat in the face of PC gamers by not publishing Madden on PC since 2008. This is naturally something that I am quite bitter about even though I realize Madden is as guilty of the ‘annual roster update’ issue.
It Lacks the Official NFL Licenses
Let’s get the potential deal breaker out of the way immediately. Because Madden controls the licenses for the NFL and they would cost much more than a small indie developer could afford Axis Football lacks official licenses. What this obviously means is that the team names, uniforms, etc. are not in the game. More significantly, it means that there are no official NFL players featured within the game. However, I believe that the developers have done a very reasonable job in attempting to replicate the real deal so far as teams and players are concerned. For example, one of my favorite NFL teams is the Seattle Seahawks. The Seattle team is called the ‘Seattle Warhawks’ in the team. Furthermore, although the Warhawks players are not given the same names as the real Seahawks players their attributes are a reasonable match to what last season’s Seahawks team was.
Although the game lacks officially licensed rosters there are community mods. That means although the game may lack official licenses that there are people within the game’s community who have dedicated themselves to creating a realistic experience. By this, I mean that there is an ‘NFL Experience 2016’ mod. This has been painstakingly created by ‘thesackmaster’ and several other community members. There is also a NCAA mod. You will find these two mods and others in the official ‘Axis Football Mods’ forum. There are other mods including create your own league starter kids, broadcast graphics, and stadium graphics downloads.
The community is one of the game’s strongest points.
It Can Be Educational
Being Australian gridiron is not a native sport. Therefore, I find the game to be very complex. Consequently, anything beyond position names and basic functions has been beyond me. There are many so many technicalities within each play that trying to understand everything is difficult. I have often found myself taking an automatic option or coach’s pick in football games. However, I do not believe that this function is within the game. This may be perceived as a negative but I’ve personally found it to be a major advantage. By playing the game I am naturally increasing my understanding of formations and of the technical aspects that go into each player’s role within each given play. Therefore, I believe that the game deserves recognition as an easy and enjoyable way to learn American football.
A Little Too Easy Perhaps
Arguably the greatest negative that I have encountered thus far is that the game is arguably too easy. In my second game, I ran the score up into the 70’s while my computer opponent put out a single touchdown. I am finding that this repeats itself and that the only scores the computer often makes are the fluke-like plays that are unstoppable. I’m finding that this may soon turn into a game where I target specific achievements to perfect the game and return for my dose of pro football action.
The reason why I am finding it too easy is because the AI does not react – at least noticeably – to the same tactics being employed again and again. In one game I used blitz for every single play. Unless the quarterback dishes off the pass quickly enough I can generally get the sack as no one is there to cover the blitz. On offense, I prefer the long throwing game. I can generally always count on one of my receivers getting open but the occurrence on 1-on-3 (offense-defense) catches is far too common. I’ve thus far found that the likelihood of throwing an interception is far less than my single receiver catching the ball.
However, I must suggest that I am finding the running game to be quite challenging. The majority of my big scores have been performed through the throwing game. I have yet to unlock the 200+ rushing yards in a single game. This may be because I’m not entirely familiar with the nuances required for the running game.
Presentation and Features
This is where the game is lacking most of all. The graphics are not at all current generation. The features are lacking in contrast to a fully fleshed out feature complete game (e.g. Madden).
If I could have one wishlist item fulfilled on the next entry in the franchise it would be a complete franchise mode. I understand that there are other games on the market (the management simulators) that allow you to do this but it would be a fantastic feature. The current franchise mode is insufficient in this regard and feels as though it has only been implemented to give players an option besides single game quick matches. Although it’s a good thing that there is something else in the game its lack of depth is a little concerning.
The Franchise is a Work in Progress
The developers have an understanding that the game isn’t where they want it to be. What the game currently is an opportunity for PC gamers to get their football on. They have ideas and plans to implement what they want to. However, they are open to advice, feedback and even criticism (please make it constructive). They are a very hands-on development team and want to make their game the best that it can possibly be. In complete honesty, you have to start somewhere and what they have now is an already highly playable and enjoyable football experience.
Is it Steamified?
It certainly is. There are trading cards and Steam achievements. I would, however, like to see them do away with their mod forum and try and implement Steam Workshop compatibility. This would encourage mod makers to create content for the game. This would increase the activeness of the community which would work wonders for the game.
Axis Football 2016 offers PC gamers the opportunity to play entertaining football games. The developers are willing to work with their community on the continued improvement of the game’s quality. If you’re a fan of American football, then the $20 investment is well and truly worth it.