While it will not tear anyone away from Front Page Sports Football, Ultimate Football deserves mention as the game that offers one of the most number of options ever seen in a football game... although not all of them are implemented effectively. You can select any team from the National Football League, and rearrange the team's defensive and offensive formations. Each player has different levels of performance and skills. The quarter length can be set for five, ten or fifteen minutes. Stadium types include outdoor grass, outdoor artificial, or domed. The game time can be changed as daytime, evening, or night time-- with appropriate graphical changes. You can have snow, rain, or clear skies, and even toggle the temperatures from very hot, hot, warm, cool, cold, or frigid, all of which affect the players' fatigue level. You can even change the wind speed, from no wind, slight wind, moderate wind and gusting wind-- and even change their directions. One of the best features is the recording option: you can record any length of game you like, then load it later as a film to view it. You can also toggle camera angles, both in-game and while editing the film.
The graphics are somewhat pixellated, but quite advanced for its time-- I especially like the fact that player graphics are big, so there is no need to squint to see what they are doing with the ball. The game also includes other nice touches, such as a weekly injury report, and a injury screen which lists all players currently on IR. Also, it has a running total of career stats with a search feature to call up any player, free agent feature, and trade options.
So what is wrong with the game? Unfortunately, many of the game's features don't work correctly either due to poor AI, or poor design. The more you play, the more you will notice idiosyncracies and quirks that make the game very unrealistic, and at times laughable. The computer, for instance, will refuse nearly all trade deals, even if they are favorable to them. Basically, the computer AI is the worst I've ever seen in any sports sim. No matter what offensive playbook I choose, the computer coach never has the intelligence to mount effective defense. It doesn't react to blitzes with dumb off passes in the flat, and pass recievers never make any blitz adjustments. Wide recievers will at least 50% of the time run 10-20 yards out of bounds if you let them run a route too close to the side lines. And your QB will then attempt to pass to them, and horribly miss. Simply put, the AI of this game is pathetic, and provides no challenge whatsoever. I'd wager that anyone who has no clue about football, makes random choices, and waggles joystick haphazardly can still win thisgame. What a terrible waste of all those painstakingly researched gameplay options.
Overall, this is clearly a game that is long on features and eye-candy, but short on real intelligence. Even Ultimate Football '95, the update MicroProse released a year later with more updated statistics, isn't much improved over this version. A disappointment, to say the least. Worth a try only if you're bored with Sierra's classic Front Page Pro Football series, or want to play a game that's almost impossible to lose.
Note: Bryan Pryor, webmaster of the UNFL Homepage (see related link below), kindly pointed out that the playbooks which you can add to the game makes the game much better, and more than compensate for the nonexistent AI. Go to his homepage today to download the latest playbook and join one of the longest running UF leagues :)