700258_largerWhile hard hits and dazzling end zone plays seem to garner most of the attention when it comes to American Football, there's a deeper strategy element that sometimes gets overlooked. Pro Strategy Football 2013 [$4.99] looks to celebrate that facet of football with gameplay that focuses exclusively on the play-calling and scouting elements of the game. It succeeds well in this regard too, making it a must-play for any technical fan of the game.

If you're hoping that Pro Strategy Football 2013 will satisfy the current void of a console-like football gaming experience, you'll have to look elsewhere. The visuals are reminiscent of the old-school Tecmo Super Bowl, there are no team or player licenses, and you can't directly control your teams. Instead, PSF places you squarely in the role of the head coach and that means a wealth of options.

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From the moment you start a game in Pro Strategy Football, you'll get to control nearly ever aspect of every play that your team runs. Defensive and offensive formations, actual plays, motions, blitzes, ball carriers, time management -- all are customizable via the game's many menu screens. Of course, seeing how you can't actually control your players, you'll have to rely on scouting the opposition (teams and players are rated on a variety of simple attributes) as well as your own players to determine the best plays to run. However, the opposition AI is smart enough to eventually adapt if you run the same plays over and over, so you'll have to make sure to put some variety in your play calling.

In this regard, PSF almost plays out like an incredibly elaborate puzzle. There are a lot of variables always during a football play that require constantly consideration. Secondary aspects, such as weather and injuries add further complications to the game. In addition, the game isn't very forgiving from an AI standpoint, as impatient players simply selecting plays without thought will never win a game. However, it's very rewarding to execute a successive string of plays and actually outsmart the opponent. This is especially true in the game's multiplayer offering, which I found a bit more satisfying than the Season and Scrimmage-based AI. Finally, a scenario editor adds some replayability by letting you create any number of situations to play through.

While the head coach-oriented perspective of Pro Strategy Football will delight football experts, one area that I really enjoyed about PSF is its newbie-friendly explanations for nearly every option. Every play, general formation, and defensive schemes has some sort of explanation attached to it and typically provides a beginner-friendly descriptive along with pros/cons for choosing each option. Meanwhile, a text-heavy overarching tutorial also does a good job explaining nearly every facet of the game. I would have actually liked even more in-depth tutorials on the various options within the individual plays, but as it stands I was pretty impressed at the effort Pro Strategy Football makes for the uninitiated.

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Obviously PSF 2013 isn't without its nagging faults. The game's menu system lacks polish both in terms of visual aesthetic as well as actual usability. Sure, with enough familiarity you'll be able to sufficiently tailor most aspects of your play, but you're going to be exploring and looking up the tutorials on each window until you can figure out what each option actually does. In addition, the lack of any licenses makes most teams and players feel a bit generic. I also encountered a few bugs where plays would go on indefinitely until I hit the 'Skip' button (which would frustratingly usually end up with a negative play on my end).

Still, other than the last complaint, the rest are purely gripes that really don't address the heart of Pro Strategy Football 2013. True fans of football play-calling aren't going to care about visuals, or even (to a certain extent) how obtuse the menu system is. All that'll matter to them is whether the game offers enough options to satisfy the head coaching urge and whether the game is honest in its statistical underpinnings. In these regards, Pro Strategy Football passes with flying colors. It may not fill the need for a traditional iOS football game, but football fans looking to explore the tactics behind the tackles really need to check this gem out.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • NickyNichols

    Uh oh, bring out the "but Limbo only got 3 stars" brigade.

  • Reydn

    What's multiplayer like? Wifi? Hot seat? Online?

    • ProStrategyFootball

      You can play hot seat / pass-and-play, or you can play online with Game Center. You can also play against the computer.

  • https://www.facebook.com/DigitalDistillery Scot Damn

    This game is freaking fantastic! If you're a big fan of strategy and football, you owe it to yourself to pick this game up. As Eric says above, even if you're not super knowledgeable about football play calling, PSF does a great job of explaining nearly every aspect of the game. Seriously worth every penny.

  • anabolicMike

    I loved head coach on the Xbox. I had all the maddens and etc but the one that got wore out was head coach. I'm like rock hard in anticipation here. I'm downloading this. Oh god I love running football plays. I used to draw em on paper. I wish it was nfl licensed. Love to be able to tell Manning what play to run or to have a side game where you get to beat up Michael Vick. Sweetness!

  • Bool Zero

    Uh oh! My wallets in trouble! Te no Bowl style graphics and serious strategy too boot? Time to make a purchase!

  • blindspot

    In case the review above hasn't made it clear, this app is all strategy play calling. And I love it for that! If you've ever wanted to learn more about the "X's and O's" of football tactics, this app will be very educational for you as well as a lot of fun.

    • ProStrategyFootball

      thanks! Glad you're enjoying it!

  • worldcitizen1919

    This game is SUPERB. I LOVE IT!!! I just want shorter quarters and I'll be playing this hours at a time. NFL games of this quality signalise the end of the Madden Era which has sadly come to a thudding end with complete failure.

    • ProStrategyFootball

      Thanks! Yep, that's a great idea, and it's on the list for one of this year's updates. Right now, I'm focusing on the update for iPad. Thanks for your suggestions!

  • billybadcorn

    Hi Eric,

    My name is Flann and I really like this game. I have an idea for a similar football game that I would like to create for iOS. It combines what you're doing with some other football games from the past, and adds a new twist. I would like to talk to you about the creation of your game. Realistically, I would like to put together a team of designers. With the success of your game, your involvement on any level would be a huge addition to the project. I live in Austin,TX and might be looking to put together a Kickstarter to help fund the project. I'd want to really push it during the upcoming SXSW festival this March. Anyhoo, if this sounds cool to you I could send you my email and we could chat further. Hope to hear from you soon!

  • jcoop9

    Think I'm going to pick this one up.

  • adillo13

    Great game! Even better than last year's. My one suggestion for the future would be to add some kind of simple audible system. This would add a whole new level of strategy. Instead of anticipating the opposite team's play, you can read it based on formation or blitzers or motion and adjust. Wouldn't have to be complicated, even the ability to change focus from pass to run, for instance, opens up a whole new level of immersion.
    Even without audibles it is a great game, though. I play this more than any other new release.

    • ProStrategyFootball

      Yep! I expect to get a first pass of audibles in pretty soon! Thanks!

  • Edosh

    So let me get this straight, you call football a game where you barely use a foot to kick a ball and than you call a game where you using foot only to kick a ball as a soccer? US is a weird country (although nice) :)

    • anabolicMike

      Your right it doesn't make as much sense as the game cricket eh? Or rugby.

  • JP Falcon

    It would be a nice feature to sim a blow out game rather than need to play it through...otherwise a fantastic game well worth the price!

    • ProStrategyFootball

      JP, tell me more. I think I know what you're saying - if you're ahead by a lot, give you the option to let the computer take over and finish the game for you? If that's what you mean, I think that's a great idea, and should be simple.

      The hardest part would probably be the UI! It's already so crowded. First, do you want this option only if one of the coaches is the computer? It might be nice to have it even if both are Humans, in case one person just bails (but not Game Center games, not sure I can do that just yet)

      I could add another button to the Coach popup menu, something along the lines of "SIM Rest of this game" - and of course, I'd confirm you really want to do it.

      Is this what you mean? Thanks!

      • JP Falcon

        Thanks for the reply....I guess I will steal a mechanic from iOOTP and see is there is a way for you to do something similar in your gem of a game PSF. Let us say that you are either ahead or behind by an embarrassing margin at half time, since the game is so detailed, and by nature long to play out, it would be nice if there was a sim button which would simply sim the remainder of the game with the same speed as if you sim the entire game. In other words the AI will simply finish the game in no time. In the baseball sim iOOTP while managing a game, you you have the ability to sim whole innings, half innings, or the remainder of the game. It is for common to have a lead in your baseball game and then sim the remainder of the game just to end up having your team lose. An unpleasant surprise but that is the risk you take simming the remainder of the game. I do not profess to be programming literate enough to know what can be done in PSF but if there was an option to select a series of game plan options for the AI Assistant Coach (run/pass dominant, blitzing frequency, etc.) and then allow the AI to finish the game at speed then it would help speed up season play a bit. Thanks......

      • ProStrategyFootball

        Thanks, JP. Let me see what I can get in there soon, and then I can continue adding onto it in future releases. I'm going to add the "game plan" idea, already have the support for it in the game, just have to see when, since I do this part-time. But I should be able to add the "SIM REST OF GAME" button (or something like that).

        Thanks again!

      • anabolicMike

        One thing I like about this game dude is all the buttons. Adding more is brilliant. I really enjoy this game more then I even thought I would! Ill show it to my pops. He'd be all over it ha. Even though we are 100% Canadian. Football reigns supreme!

      • ProStrategyFootball

        Thanks! I really hope your dad enjoys it! You guys can play each other with pass-and-play or with Game Center. Have fun!

Pro Strategy Football 2013 Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4