American Football has recently become a popular British TV sport for those with the patience to understand its tactical complexities and an access to Channel 4 Television. Chris 'Tipster' Passey turns from the gee gees to take a look at the armour-plated behemoths of the American football pitch....
'A General stands at the head of a battle, he looks deep into the mist. He asks himself questions as to the tactical advantages of various offenses. Should he bring the artillery up, or the cavalry, or maybe they should attempt a full-- blooded, bayonets-fixed charge. The mist begins to clear. Standing on his 20 yard line he observes the field. He decides upon the Blitz in a last desperate attempt to halt the opposition....'
This battle is fought upon a football field, the battle is a game American Football. I'm not an expert on the subject (to the north of Ludlow we lack Channel 4), but after scanning through the supplied documentation I soon became proficient in the use of words like quarter back, bombing, blitzing, huddle and interference blocking. American Football is a hugely strategic game in which every move has to be decided upon. The choosing of the pre-set options of various offenses or defences was reasonable but I felt that I was just choosing names. After playing a while I found myself using manoeuvers for different positions with more competence.
The game is shown graphically on the screen using tiny little characters. This is not very exciting but it is better than nothing. Besides, this is a strategic game and not a shoot em up. Mind you, I do keep stressing that strategy type games would get a massive boost if they boasted graphics to match their other virtues; so if you are after raw excitement, then stick to zapping nasties; but if you want to exercise the cranial muscles then this is worth a try. Playing the game is quite easy, it's understanding what effects your strategies will have that is the difficult task. The sixteen or so strategical options are all entered by using the first two letters, so to bomb will be BO, and blitz will be BL. Each player takes a turn, and in a two-handed game it is better not to watch a player entering the codes, as this is called cheating!
The accompanying book provides an excellent introduction to the game and for complete beginners like myself this is a great help. I found the game to be mildly addictive, which rather surprised me as I usually find such games a little yawn-- inducing to say the least. And as well as enjoying American football it taught me a lot about the real thing, so that now I can't wait to watch it when we finally receive C4.
Generally I felt it would have been even better if it had great graphics; and in real life the teams can decide things on the spur of the moment by looking at the opposition's movement and position. Here it is all pre-set and you wait for an outcome which is then enacted on screen. This does tend to impair the atmosphere - perhaps cheerleaders would have helped this, but the game is still an enjoyable strategic exercise.