Tom Landry Football Deluxe Edition. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Scott A. May
Merit Software drafts another winner with the deluxe edition of last year's popular Tom Landry Strategy Football. Designer Kerry Batts delivers a host of new features while retaining the original's proven appeal. The resulting game is indeed "better than ever," as the packaging proclaims, yet still slightly short of its goal.
All of the original game's major virtues remain intact and in many cases are noticeably enhanced: one- or two-player coaching modes, null and remote modem play, optional arcade-style graphics, digitized referee and play commentaries, printable stats, and absolutely the best mouse-driven interface in the genre. Other features held over include in-depth team ratings, scouting, injuries and fatigue, substitutions, variable coaching styles, and a what-if scenario builder.
The two most important additions to the deluxe version are a comprehensive league editor and a full 16-game season with wildcard rounds, division playoffs, and a championship game (called the Landry Bowl). The league editor makes up for the game's lack of real NFL franchise teams and players. The program defaults to generic teams modeled from 1992 pro season stats, but can now easily be modified to reflect real-life gridiron heroes. With a little research and minimal onscreen effort, you can update rosters and player attributes to '93 standings or create a fantasy league of completely original teams. Season play also corrects a major oversight in the design of the original game. The program does an admirable job of maintaining team and individual stats, from current game totals and averages to league leaders and season standings.
Still missing is a playbook editor, by now standard issue on all topnotch football simulations. This is a highly questionable oversight, particularly for a game whose main focus is the art of coaching. That said, the selection of preset plays and formations remains impressive. In fact, Landry's playbook has now grown to include exciting new offensive formations such as the Pro-I (right or left), Blue, Shotgun with Four Wide Receivers, and Trips. New plays include shuffle passes and hook-and-go receiver routes. The most profound addition to defense is the ability to pick which of your four linebackers or safety to blitz. Other options, such as
backfield motion, not receivers, double teaming, and line shifts help turn several dozen plays into thousands of strategic variations.
Landry Deluxe proves a solid second effort, although fans hoping for a major revision may be slightly disappointed. By not taking the game its full distance, Batts essentially calls the same play twice, gaining a little extra yardage but falling short of the big score. If you liked the first release, though, you'll probably enjoy tackling the new features of this updated version.