Arena Football: Road to Glory

March 23, 2007

The Arena Football League is a lot like the NFL’s little brother. While trying to be different, the teams ultimately get the wannabe backups and washed up veterans the NFL doesn’t want.

EA’s first Arena Football game ultimately felt like the best development teams weren’t touching this thing either. Is the second installment any better?

First of all, the graphics are painfully last-gen. EA Tiburon has made a habit of recycling last year’s graphics for the NCAA series, but Road to Glory looks more like Madden 2004 than ’06. The sound, on the other hand, is almost nonexistent. There is no commentary, and during the game all you hear is a muffled stadium announcer. At least the music isn’t bad.

The menu system seems different just for difference’s sake. While EA Sports game menus are often boring and uniform, they are at least intuitive and easy to understand. Arena Football throws this out of the window in favor of a weird, arcade-style feel.

Of course, the most important part of this game: how does it play? The game has all the Arena quirks, for better or worse. For those more familiar with regular football, the positional restrictions can be confusing, but it does add to the game’s authenticity. The simple playbooks are less intimidating but ultimately feel shallow and limited. I could talk about the gameplay itself, but it’s just eight-player Madden– nothing special here. The hits do feel a bit harder, and the post-play animations help somewhat to give the game its “extreme” nature, but it lacks the EA polish.

The multiplayer is adequately engaging, but nothing stands out as special or unique. For most games, to have online play and multi-tap support for 8 players would be something to note, but it seems standard and obvious coming from EA.

Road to Glory retails for $30, but even at this lower price, it feels cheap. The game has advertisements on virtually every menu, and the barebones black-and-white instruction manual reminds you that yes, this is a budget title. But did EA use any cash on making the game better?

The two noticeable additions are the af2 League and a mini-game. The minor league teams do allow fans in those areas to play as their hometown favorite, but there’s little noticeable impact on the gameplay. The mini-game, on the other hand, showcases everyone’s favorite part of arena football: field goal kicking.

Wait, what?

Yes, that’s right: one of the main features of the game is, for the most part, a Training Camp mini-game that’s been in Madden for years. It’s mildly fun, but this isn’t a party game solution by any stretch of the imagination.

One major problem with this release: The Arena Football League has changed its rules for 2007, allowing more one-way players and a more NFL-like experience. This game doesn’t incorporate these new rules, so the one thing it has going for it– an authentic AFL experience– is flawed.

It sounds a bit unfair to compare this game to the behemoth franchises of Madden and Street, but the reality is that there’s almost nothing left after EA snapped up the league licenses, and there really isn’t a large market out there that buys three football games a year. This game is solid, if unspectacular. It’s just that no one really needed this game.

Sure, Road to Glory is a budget title, but it’s not competing with the latest Madden. You can get a more complete football experience with a used copy of last year’s edition, and the “ironman” concept is pulled off much more admirably by the NFL Street team. This game is just for those who want AFL teams and rosters. This series just seems to be made as part of their effort to make sure there are no league licenses left for other companies. Don’t get me wrong: this game’s not bad. It’s just that Tiburon already makes two better ones. Glory? Eh, EA’s not there yet.

Score: 1/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.