NFL 2010 HD Review: An NFL Game Not Made By EA? What?

A number of years ago, EA locked up exclusive rights to make NFL video games. Because of that, I was very confused as to how Gameloft could release their own NFL football game on the iPad. Apparently, EA didn’t lock up mobile games, which allowed for this release to happen.

I haven’t played a football video game since 1996 with Madden 64. However, the release of Backbreaker has whet my interest in something meatier and there aren’t any other NFL licensed football games on the iPad on sale for $0.99. With all of that going for it, I decided to give NFL 2010 HD a shot.

Unlike Backbreaker on the iPhone/iPad, NFL 2010 HD is a full-on football simulation. All of the teams and players are here, along with quick play, exhibition, season and playoff modes. Players looking for a Madden-like experience may find what they’re looking for here. The presentation and sound are great, but the graphics leave a bit to be desired. I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to football plays, but there seemed to be more than enough to get by. I like that the game gives players the option to pick “basic” plays, which allows players to work with a much smaller playbook. However, I still felt like there were too many menus to go through when using the simple plays over the advanced plays.

Once you get to the on-field action, things start to get dicey. Passing in this game is clunky and a lot harder than it should be. The game requires you to use your left thumb to control the direction of the player while touching an icon above your receiver’s head with a right finger to throw to them. It is really hard to keep all of the action in perspective. You have to concentrate on moving your quarterback away from the defense while focusing on the receivers on the opposite end of the screen. I got sacked a number of times and failed to throw the ball even more often than I got sacked because it’s not easy to hit moving buttons.

Defense and special teams aren’t very exciting, either. The inclusion of an automated tackle whenever you’re close to the ball carrier takes the impact out of defense. Context-sensitive buttons appear for actions like spin moves and deflections, but they don’t often yield favourable results. Basically, defense boils down to picking a play and hoping your team can sack the quarterback.

It’s a bit of a shame that this game didn’t live up to its potential. I think that NFL 2010 HD has just enough simulation elements to it to make it the meaty football experience to play on the go. However, the game feels competent at best and frustrating at it’s worst. Maybe I’ll check out the Madden iPhone game next time i hit the iTunes store.

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