Mike Ditka Ultimate Football. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Clayton Walnum
Maybe it's my imagination, but it seems a lot of football games have been released recently. Not that football fans are complaining. The new pigskin playfests have been topnotch for the most part, and Accolade's Mike Ditka Ultimate Football is no exception.
Like any complete football simulation, Ultimate Football gives you a chance to ooze back into your favorite comfy chair and battle through anything from a single exhibition game to a whole season leading up to the playoffs. And if you're not quite ready for the big game, Ultimate Football offers three handy drills for practicing the toughest aspects of this computerized sport: kickoffs, running and passing, and field goals.
Your first step toward the playoffs is to select your game options. Fatigue, injuries, penalties, and fumbles are all options that can be toggled on or off, allowing you to control the game's difficulty and realism. But more importantly, you can choose whether you want to play a strategic game (where you choose the plays and the computer runs them), and action game (where the computer chooses the plays and you run them), or handle both strategy and action yourself.
One of the Ultimate Football's slickest options is pass difficulty, which can be set to any of three settings. On the easiest setting, the screen freezes when you decide to pass the ball, giving you a chance to view the possible receivers and choose the one you think has the best shot of receiving. On the hardest setting, you have to handle both the pass and the catch in realtime.
After setting the options, you organize your players in the roster and can even monkey a bit with their speed, skill, and stretch attributes. The color editor lets you modify your team's uniform. And if you like, you can even change a player's name or shirt number.
Then, it's off to the field, where men are men and referees wear those silly striped shirts. If you're chosen to coach your team, you select your team's formation and play, after which your players march onto the field for the hike. After the snap, if you're playing offense (and have elected to play the action, rather than delegate it to the computer), you control the player with the ball. If you're playing defense, you usually control the player closest to the ball but can switch quickly to any another player on your team.
As with any sports simulation, the gameplay is fast and furious. Nevertheless, the controls are smooth and handle well. Amazingly, you can control most of a play with only your mouse, eliminating the need to memorize a bunch of keystroke commands.
When you're gotten the hang of the game, the included construction set--which allows you to create, modify, or delete a league--gives you a chance to hone the game to fit your tastes exactly. With the construction set you can create new teams, create new players for your teams, and even edit the contents of your playbook.
With its well-rendered graphics, believable animation, digitized sounds, and smooth gameplay, Mike Ditka Ultimate Football scores a touchdown.