September 1st, 2012 | By Sam Adonis
The Football Playbook is a game about aggro and timing more than it is about soccer. Which is fortunate, as I knew nothing about the sport other than what I have heard people scream at the television. It fills me with pride to say that I now know first hand the experience of being angry at a referee – or the decisions the game made, in this case.
This is a strategy-puzzle game, that works with very simple rules. Get the ball in the net with the “Striker” after passing the ball around. You move it around between your different units while keeping the ball, or ball-holder from being touched by any enemies. You must click on each of your team-members in order, as they hold the ball. They only become clickable if they are active with the ball, or if they are “Runners.” Runners have a set route they will follow, and will move along that path – with or without the ball.
Weird thing is, not all runners can be activated. Some will have an icon to show that you can tell them to move, while others will only move once the ball is held by a set unit. Unfortunately, every other unit will not even move. While I don’t know much about soccer, I assume that most participants in games will move around a little instead of existing just to stay in place and pass the ball. The game’s set mechanics work well, so that is not a major complaint.
I mentioned that the game focuses on aggro and timing. This is because as soon as one of your team-members is holding the ball, nearby members of the opposite team will react. Some will charge straight at the active ball-holder, while others will follow any runners you have moving. Most of your opponents will remain in the position they were at once the ball is out of range, while some will return to their previous spot.
Problem is, Football Playbook does not tell you which are which, or what the activation range is on any unit, which leads me to one of the two biggest issues that I had with the game. It does not tell you which unit does what, or any details on it. The most it does is tell you which units are the runners, and which is the striker.
My second major issue with the game is the absence of a feature to plan your moves to solve different screens. The closest is a function that will show you some of your failed attempts. I found myself drawing a sketch on a piece of paper my plan for one of the more challenging puzzles. I just wish there had been included a way for me to do that inside the game.
The puzzles in this game were usually easy enough, though there were a few that took me a while. This was mostly due to the timing aspect I had mentioned before, as you often have to wait for the perfect position of the nearby opponents before you can successfully send the ball off to the next team mate. Sometimes it would seem that the range that units were touched by the computer’s team was a bit unfair, but that may just prove my investment to the game.
Overall, Football Playbook‘s forty-two puzzles are enjoyable to the point where I had no problem motivating myself to complete the game. Its determination to maintain simple gameplay is a large part of the charm, though I wish there was more to puzzles than different arrangements of units. I would recommend Football Playbook to those that appreciate a casual approach to puzzles, that can be solved within a couple minutes each.
The Football Playbook is available for purchase at it’s website, here.