PC REVIEW – So close yet so far away. That simple sentence just about sums up the checkered history of the Axis Football franchise. When Axis Football 2015 was first released, it lacked so many basic features that no one really took the game seriously. A year later, when Axis Football 16 hit Steam, it greatly improved upon the first but required constant updates to make it both playable and enjoyable.
This year, however, Axis Football 2017 feels like a whole new ballgame. Just when you were ready to throw in the towel, Danny Jugan and his merry men at Axis Games Studios have come up with a solid offering that will please both casual and hardcore pigskin players. Right from the start, the higher quality player models, and physic based collisions will immersive you into the gameplay like never before.
“Axis Football has always focused on their patented touch passing as their go to feature so it’s no surprise that the keyboard and mouse is the preferred controller of choice”
Graphically, Axis 17 is a major upgrade from the previous version. Colors are more vibrant, players have more feel and depth, especially during collisions and tackling. More animations mean a smoother and more fluid-like movement that doesn’t feel so robotic as was the case in previous versions. When players, run, tackle, or jump, it looks and feels so much better than it did before. I’d still like to see the developers focus more on the wrap around and gang tackling and do away with the ‘touch ’em and they all fall down’ approach.
“I’m not sure how they did it, but having an experienced guy like Dan Stevens to anchor the voice of Axis Football 17 is a major win and gives the franchise some needed leverage to move beyond being a pretender to being a serious contender”
Controls are solid and can be played with the kb/m combo or a controller. However, Axis Football has always focused on their patented touch passing as their go to feature so it’s no surprise that the keyboard and mouse is the preferred controller of choice. You also have the ability to choose between icon or aimed passing which gives the game more of a simulation feel.
“One of the strengths of the Axis Football titles is the ability to customize the game the way you want”
New enhancements on the sound and music are notably included in this year’s version. While the game boasts very little soundtrack in the game, the commentary is a step up from previous releases. Axis Games was able to obtain the voice of Dan Stevens, who did the commentary on on NFL 2k5 and All Pro Football 2k8 which in my opinion, is the best football game ever released.
I’m not sure how they did it, but having an experienced guy like Dan anchor the voice of Axis Football 17 is a major win and gives the franchise some needed leverage to move beyond being a pretender to being a serious contender.
“A huge list of options adds to the replay value”
One of the strengths of the Axis Football titles is the ability to customize the game the way you want. Want a customize team with your own logos, colors, and roster? You got it! Want to edit player attributes, portraits, and uniforms? No problem! Tired of playing with the Pro’s and itching to start an NCAA collegiate team? Go for it!
Almost anything you want, you can do with the simple but highly effective editor. As of writing this, there’s already a college / NCAA mod that’s available for download and it looks great. Personally, I can’t wait to see what the modding can do with the editor! If there’s a group of gamers that can help showcase the game’s potential, it definitely will be this one.
“Probably the most eagerly awaited feature is the franchise mode”
A huge list of options adds to the replay value. Four skill levels allow beginners to work their up up the big leagues as they familiarize themselves with the controls and the nuances of the game. While the higher difficulty levels will give even the veteran armchair quarterback a run for their money.
As I’ve said earlier, you can tweak almost every game condition imaginable, including fatigue, formations, audible and hot routes. Unfortunately, the game isn’t fully licensed by the NFL, meaning that your favorite teams and players are once again missing this year. Fortunately, the in-game player editor gives you the power to import your favorite over-paid players in a few simple clicks.
“Despite all the improvements and added features, the game still falls behind in some key area”
Probably the most eagerly awaited feature is the franchise mode. This year, franchise mode is more robust than ever before consisting of unlimited seasons, season long stats, league and team schedule, playoff, drafts, franchise stats that keep track of player progression based on age, performance, potential, and playtime. While it won’t satisfy the true simulation junkies out there, players from all skill levels will appreciate the added depth in franchise play.
“While Axis Football 17 still suffers from several notable shortcomings, the gradual improvements from 2015 to 2016 to 2017 are a huge leap and should be worthy of your gaming dollars”
Despite all the improvements and added features, the game still falls behind in some key area. Blocking and player-to-player interactions still need some work as well as better intuitive AI awareness which would prevent players from standing still instead of making plays for the ball.
Ball physics are a little quirky and can range from simple to bizarre. In one game, I passed the ball on a slant for an incomplete, but instead of the ball falling dead, it bounced back off the ground about 20 yards where it mysteriously disappeared off-screen. The computer AI needs a bit of tweaking as well to mimic real football tactics. When the computer is up by 14 with less than 2 minutes to go in the game, it shouldn’t have to pass on 4th and long, but it did and it definitely didn’t have to. Luckily, it doesn’t happen too often, but it happens enough times to break the immersion and fun factor.
“Axis Football may not be the biggest or the deepest football game around, but it certainly tries its hardest to provide the best gaming experience possible”
While Axis Football 17 still suffers from several notable shortcomings, the gradual improvements from 2015 to 2016 to 2017 are a huge leap and should be worthy of your gaming dollars. It may fall short of Madden in terms of depth, graphics, and gameplay but when you consider what we have on the PC front, it’s the best thing we have right now.
It’s not perfect by any means, but it is a work in progress and with enough time, resources, and support, it will one day, rival Madden as the epitome of what a football game should look and play like. Axis Football may not be the biggest or the deepest football game around, but it certainly tries the hardest to provide us the best football gaming experience possible.
Interested in the game? Enter for your chance to win your very own copy of Axis Football 2017! Thanks to Danny and Axis Games for providing the key to the giveaway!