Axis Football 19 Review

McDonald’s has Burger King; Coke has Pepsi; Lamborghini has Ferarri.

Alternatives are almost everywhere so if you don’t like something, there’s bound to be a similar product out there that you do like. It’s just the nature of consumerism.

For fans of football video games, however, alternatives have been pretty hard to come by in recent years. At one point in time, there were upwards of five officially licensed NFL games available in a given year. The same goes for college games. Unfortunately, that’s just no longer the case.

[RELATED: Axis Football Almost Signed With AAF

Fans are given extremely limited options from the main AAA publishers and have to hope that smaller studios deliver that alternative for them.

Enter Axis Football.

With the series now over five years old, Axis Games has been working to give players a fun, deep football game that they can sink their teeth into. Now, after years of growth and improvement, is Axis Football 19 the game that’s finally ready for prime time, or does it still need time on the practice squad?

Deep Management

The pièce de ré·sis·tance of Axis Football 19 is the game’s Franchise Mode. Advertised as the deepest franchise mode in football gaming, it’s really hard to argue that point based on what’s available.

First, there’s the ability to hire and fire an entire coaching staff. From position coaches to coordinators, your staff can truly be made up of the type of people you’d like. If you want coordinators that focus on smart, disciplined football, you can find them. What about a staff that’s really good at developing young players? You can have that, too.

It’s unheard of in a football game to have a coaching tree this deep, and Axis Football 19 does it perfectly.

Axis Football 19
You can build your coaching staff from the ground up in Axis Football 19

One of the best features of the franchise mode, in my opinion, returns this year and that’s the tiered leagues. Unlike other football games and leagues, Axis Football 19 features league relegation much like how you see in various soccer leagues worldwide. You start at the lowest tier and have to build a team and work to become the best team in the world by building the best staff and roster you can.

Drafting has received one of the biggest overhauls within the mode. Added this year are draft guides, team needs, prospect vs. roster comparisons, areas of improvement and more. It takes one of the more fun aspects of real-world football and makes it just as enjoyable within the game.

With free agency, while there really isn’t any sort of logic when it comes to players deciding to sign with your team there is one thing that Axis 19 does that even Madden doesn’t get right: in-season free-agent signings.

Rather than automatically signing free agents to one-year contracts, you can offer players fully negotiated deals outside of the usual offseason Free Agent period. It’s a small thing, but a nice touch to have in an indie title. Of course, there are things that Franchise Mode doesn’t have that it could really use to put it over the top.

Trading still restricts you to just two-team deals, but you can trade picks up to three years in the future this time around. Sticking with trading, it seems that almost every team needs a punter as though they are the most important players on every team.

Also omitted from the mode is historical player stat tracking, meaning that when a new year starts you can’t go back and revisit how players did in prior seasons. It’s disappointing to see especially when prior performance should matter in terms of free agent and trade targets throughout a career.

Lastly, stadium and facility upgrades are available to you to improve your overall finances and team morale.

As far as other modes go, there aren’t really any. You can play games against the CPU, against a friend locally or watch games, but that’s it. There are no other true modes in Axis Football 19, and, to be honest, that’s perfectly okay for a small title like this with as deep of a main mode as it offers.

On-Field Jitters

Gameplay-wise, Axis Football 19 feels largely the same, and that’s where it really disappoints.

If I can sum it up in a word, it’d be stiff.

Players have a bit more flow than in the past while running but it still comes off as a bit too robotic. The tackling feels clunky while the on-field action makes little sense far too often for my liking

It’s rare to see a receiver make a catch in stride as most just stop on a dime when the ball gets to them. It’s better than say Axis 17, but nowhere near where it should be at this point. On top of that, running allows too much of that Madden 04 cut-on-a-dime play. You know the style, where you can just stop with no momentum and change directions without any issues? Yea, that’s the style.

On defense, it’s pretty tough to get a feel for anything. Covering passes manually is almost impossible, and it feels like your at the mercy of the game as to whether a pass is completed. Defensive line play is lackluster, to say the least. They give you power and finesse controls when engaged with blocking, but you can tap X or B over and over on the line and see nothing happen. It’s as if that ability just isn’t there.

There are penalties in the game, but they are pretty inconsistent. I’ve hit an offensive lineman and made him move, yet nothing was called. I’ve also jumped offside, got back in time before the snap, and was still flagged.

Polished It Is Not

Axis Football 19’s presentation is a mixed bag.

The user interface is incredibly crisp and responsive. Despite so much to offer and do in the menus — especially in franchise mode –, nothing feels hard to find. Placements make sense, loading times are quick, and all of the in-game overlays and bugs look like what you’d see on a TV broadcast on a network like Fox.

Axis Football 19 OnField
On-field graphic overlays look TV-quality

Where it falters is with the audio.

Terry McGovern is back as Dave Stevens alongside analyst Mike Steele. While McGovern’s calls are solid at times, audio splicing damages a lot of what could be really good. Hearing drastically different inflections in the same sentence kills that sense of reality you get from a sports game broadcast.

It’s nice that commentary is there, but it needs some more finetuning before it doesn’t become something you mute after a game or two.

Verdict

After years of going in the right direction, Axis Football 19 just feels like much of the same. Franchise Mode is, without question, one of the deepest modes in sports gaming, but that’s the only part of the game that really stands out in a positive way.

The gameplay feels off and the presentation just doesn’t flow. If this was a management sim game the likes of an Out of the Park or Football Manager, then it would be pretty damn great. However, that’s not how the game is billed: it’s billed as a standard football sim with management — Franchise Mode — elements.

Axis Football as a franchise has so much potential to be a great indie series, but with so limited on-field changes between 18 and 19, it feels more like a lost year than anything else.


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  • 4.5/10
    Gameplay - 4.5/10
  • 8/10
    Game Modes - 8/10
  • 5/10
    Presentation - 5/10
  • 5.5/10
    Longevity - 5.5/10
Overall
5.75/10

Summary

Axis Football as a franchise has so much potential to be a great indie series, but with so limited on-field changes between 18 and 19, it feels more like a lost year than anything else.