Arena Football: Road to Glory Review

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Graphics: 8.0
Sound : 8.0
Gameplay : 7.0
Multiplayer : 7.0
Overall : 7.5
Review by Kerim Senkal
Traveling down the road that is football video games, hours past Techmo and days from Madden, there is Arena Football: Road to Glory. More of an arcade-style game than simulation, it is similar to NFL Blitz in that there are some extravagant hits (some even sending a player over the wall), post-play trash-talking with some peculiar camera angles, touchdown celebrations that usually illicit some retaliation, and even some egregious late hits that go unpenalized. The true Arena Football fan will contest that it should not be compared to an NFL game because it is not an NFL game. But really, how many true Arena Football fans are there? For this reason, there is an initial tediousness to this game where, unless you are a true Arena Football fan, you must become familiar with some of the differences between the AFL and NFL. The biggest difference is scoring. AFL is all about the points. Score fast, score often, give up a score, and score again.

When sitting down to play this football game it comes as a bit of a surprise just how different the two leagues are. Luckily AFL Road to Glory has a helpful tutorial section which is also shown in a split screen with the in-game pause menu. While the tutorial will tell you what you need to know, it is purely informational and lacks interactivity. Playing like a video, it would be nice if there was pause and rewind controls to go back and make sure you understood what the fast moving and sometimes confusing explanation was saying, rather than having to watch the whole thing over again if you didn’t get something. The tutorial consists of Arena Football 101 which goes over the different aspects of the playing field and some basic rules. The offense section, talks about the OS who is a receiver that goes in motion towards or perpendicular to line of scrimmage and is at full speed when the ball is snapped. A section on defense, which is where the most significant variations from the NFL are, discusses the “mic” and “jack” linebackers who have some major restrictions on them. For instance, only one linebacker is allowed to rush the quarterback except on running plays or when the quarterback runs outside the pocket and only to they left or right of the center, not around the ends. The problem is, by the time you recognize if you're up against a running play or not, the fullback is well outside the tackles. If you try to guess, and rush the line on a pass play, you get hit with a penalty. With that in mind, this is AFL so there are very few running plays to have to worry about defending. These boundaries make playing as one of the linebackers quite difficult and undesirable, a condition that exists for the defensive backs as well. Due to the speed of the game (a typical play is decided within a few seconds) it is tough to play as a defensive back, if you are able to cover your assignment sufficiently, chances are you on the wrong guy and you’re gonna get burned.

The last part of the tutorial is Telemetry 101. This explains some of the tools available to you in game to try to get an advantage over you opponent. You are able to scroll through different displays of your players fatigue and stamina levels as well as the plays that have been run so far in the game and whether they were successful or not. The player fatigue screen is interesting because it will show you exactly what parts of the player’s body may be fatigued. If a player’s legs are glowing green and arms red, he might be able to outrun his defender but his catching ability is suspect. These informative pages really become obsolete once you realize how easy it is to score. Although, there is a telemetry display that shows the overall energy of each player on the field, viewed in-game right before the snap. This is actually very useful, usually an advantage in energy can be exploited for a big play. Another feature is the ability to control one of the receivers. This has some inherent problems, mostly, having to control the receiver and QB simultaneously. It wasn’t something that I spent too much time with, after one or two plays the appeal wears off.

The usual game play options are available, quickplay, season, practice, the aforementioned tutorial and some extras which includes a field goal kicking game. Starting at the ten yard line and progressively moving farther back kicking field goals from the middle, inside hatch, then outside hatch. Honestly, I didn’t have the patience to get all the way through. Once you kick a field goal the entire length of the field, is it really that much more exciting to do it again from ten feet to the right? Another extra challenges you to perform certain feats such as sacking the QB with the mic linebacker or hitting an opposing player into or over the wall. This is fairly easy, after a few attempts at each challenge you eventually luck into success. After completing each feat, one of a seemingly endless number of locked AFL teams you’ve probably never heard of is made accessible.

All in all, this game is an absolute rental unless you are a huge AFL fan and just have to have this game. A week of this game and you will have had your fill. One tip; in season mode go through the fantasy draft and figure out which positions have the least amount of really highly rated players and draft those positions first. You should be able to blow through the season undefeated. Or you can go to the Create A Player section and construct a team full of ringers. Personally, I’d rather play Blitz: The League. At least in that you can give your players steroids. Right on!