Welcome to the latest edition of Inside iPhone Games. This time, we'll be looking at that other NFL football game, Gameloft's NFL 2010, Alawar's Gourmania, and the rally racing fun of Rally Master Pro from Fishlabs.
NFL 2010Over a year ago, Apple launched its App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Since then, developers have released games in a steady stream, with ever increasing quality and complexity. Only recently have sports games that rival those on the bigger consoles been prevalent. When Gameloft released NFL 2010 back in August, it was a sign that iPhone gaming had arrived. Finally, armchair quarterbacks everywhere could get into the game from the comfort of, well, anywhere!
Gameloft should be a name familiar to anyone who does gaming on mobile phones. Their rather large stable of work covers a number of games that attempt to mobilize the computer and console experience, with mobile versions of hit series like Call of Duty and Splinter Cell. While they seemed to lag behind Madden when it came to their mobile NFL game, it was still a solid game in its various incarnations. The developers recently made the jump to iPhone development, and some thought it would be little more than another platform for their mobile Java creations. How wrong they were.
With NFL 2010, Gameloft became superstars. The game itself bears no resemblance to its flip-phone counterpart, and this is a welcome surprise to all mobile sports fans. If anything, it shares many qualities of the console NFL games. The game sports 3D graphics, a playbook with over 200 offensive, defensive, and special-teams plays, audio commentary, and a full roster of NFL players, including late additions Michael Vick and Brett Favre (with a recent update to the game). A number of other features elevate this game from a simple mobile pastime to a full-fledged time waster!
Every team is represented here, and you have the option of choosing a favorite team which will be a default in certain selections. You can meet on the field instantly by choosing the Quick Play option. This will start a game pitting your favorite team against a random team. You can also go into one of three full game modes: exhibition, season, and playoffs. Exhibition lets you choose your two teams, and play a full game. Season starts you on a full season of games, using the actual NFL 2009-2010 season listing for your team. Playoffs throws you into the post-season playoff grid. See if you have what it takes to make it to the big show.
The playbook for the game is quite impressive, with over 200 plays to choose from. Gameloft has decided to give players the option of a simplified play selection for those who don't understand the subtleties of the dime and nickle defense, or care to know the difference between I-formation and shotgun. The simplified playbook gives a couple of general categories for plays, narrows down to a couple more beneath those, and then gives three plays to choose from. In total, there is probably 24-30 plays on defense and about the same number for offense. Less than half of the total available plays, but they are probably the most popular, with favorites like the Hail Mary, deep post, and a number of defensive blitzes. Of course, those who understand play-making better have the option of the full-fledged play selection experience, with all of the formations and subtleties that we've come to expect from modern football games.
Game mechanics will be familiar to most people who have played football games of the past. Kicking is accomplished with timed presses of an on-screen action button, once for direction and accuracy, and a second time for power. An analog stick at the left corner of the screen controls the motion of a selected player. As the quarterback, after hiking the ball, the possible receivers show up with icons over them showing their relative positions. The colors of the icons show how likely they are to receive the ball successfully: green for open, yellow for under light coverage, red for heavily covered. Once you are running the ball, you can either let the computer control your runner, or you can take charge with the on-screen analog stick. If you let the computer take control, you will be given opportunities to decide how your runner evades oncoming defenders, either with spins or jukes. Overall the computer does a competent job of handling running and defending, leaving you to decide on plays, where to pass, and how to avoid defenders or tackle offensive players.
One thing that really makes NFL 2010 stand out is the constant updating to gameplay that Gameloft has made since its initial release. The version currently available at the Apps Store is remarkably improved from the initial release. While we are still waiting for features such as wi-fi multiplayer, the updated rosters, tweeked gameplay, and improved on-screen controls have been welcome additions, and rather surprising given the relative lack of updates from the competition.
If you're looking for an alternative to the Madden franchise, at a fraction of the cost ($2.99 compared to $9.99 as of this writing) you really can't go wrong with Gameloft's NFL 2010. High-quality graphics, excellent gameplay, updated rosters, and a large selection of plays will keep this one on football fans' iPods for sometime to come, or at least until NFL 2011 makes its appearance.
NFL 2010 at the App Store