NFL 2010 iPhone Review

By now, we expected Electronic Arts' Madden NFL to appear on the iPhone, but for whatever reason, the company has dragged its feet in delivering football to the masses. Thankfully, Gameloft stepped in to pick up the slack with its surprisingly fun NFL 2010, available now for a reasonable $4.99.

At first, we didn't know what to expect from this app, so you can imagine our surprise when we fired it up and discovered a hot looking smash mouth game of football. In addition to being in full 3-D, NFL 2010 carries the official NFL license (apparently, EA's stranglehold doesn't extend to iPhone). This means all 32 teams, logos, jerseys and for the most part, players.

Even better, the game's immensely enjoyable. Everything's handled via touch screen. On defense, you select a player by tapping him. Once the opposing team hikes the ball, you rush the quarterback with an on-screen d-pad. If another player gets in the way, you can tap an on-screen icon to push or spin around him. Of course, you can also shadow a wide receiver to prevent the first down completion or worse, a touch down.

Offense is a whole other monster. Pressing the football icon snaps the ball, and you throw to a receiver by tapping him. Each receiver has a different colored icon over his head, depending on the strength of the coverage. If it's green, he's wide open. Yellow, on the other hand, means he's lightly covered. Red, obviously, means the defense is all over him.

If you prefer to run the ball, you can always switch up the play. NFL 2010 has well over 200 plays, including pass, run and special teams. You can air it out and go for the long bomb, pitch it to a running back or throw it out of bounds if your quarterback's in trouble.

While the game's a blast, we have issues with the d-pad. Pressing left, right or down causes a player to take too big a step, as in a few yards in either direction; this usually results in a tackle and a loss of yardage. In addition, the computer seems to intercept passes at will and out of nowhere. One second, a guy will be wide open, and the next, the artificial intelligence will suddenly zip halfway across the field and snag the pass.

Those are small complaints, though, compared to the rest of the package. Overall, NFL 2010's a remarkable achievement, with zero performance hitches, better than PSOne quality graphics, commentary, the roar of the crowd and a slick animated intro. This isn't just some lazy attempt at bringing football to the iPhone. This is a first rate product that should make even EA Sports blush.

Thankfully, Gameloft plans to make it even better with the game's first free update. Not only will it integrate an NFL RSS feed, but also multiplayer (online, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi), a zombies vs. skeletons mode and the ability to upload plays to YouTube; no word yet on when this update goes live. But don't wait for that. Spend the five bucks and enjoy one of the iPhone's best sports games. As for EA, we hope to see Madden next year.

What's Hot: Full NFL license, over 200 plays, touch screen gameplay, excellent visuals, no performance issues, sweet (and free) update on the way, simple but effective commentary.

What's Not: Imprecise d-pad controls, too many interceptions.