Developer: Run Games
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5, iPad Mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Playtime: Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Football Heroes plays a decent game of arcade-style football, with plenty of hard-hitting action (as in punches to the face) and special powers to spice things up. But it comes up short of the goal line because it doesn’t take football as seriously as it should.

FootballHeroes-3This is arcade-style football. Think Tecmo Bowl: there is a limited selection of plays to run, and picking the right play type against an opponent leads to a massive defensive advantage. Big catches are possible. Players can punch their way through defenders and blockers, with powerful dive tackles being the great equalizer: if they miss they leave the tackler high and dry, but if they hit they can stop a runner in their tracks. There’s a lot of punching and even special attacks that can be triggered every few downs that can assist in any facet of the game, depending on which player is selected.

Because of all the punching and kicking Football Heroes can feel chaotic, but the controls do a great job at keeping up with that chaos. Running and executing the various actions all feel very responsive, and while swipe gestures can pose problems with executing them reliably, they otherwise hold up to the hard action. The core of this football engine is well done.

The game is free-to-play, with coins earned after each game to spend on new coin packs and players to help assemble the ultimate team. Some are available with in-app purchases – so if players want a new quarterback now, he can be had for $0.99, perhaps. A $2.99 coin doubler is also available. They are unquestionably there in the meta-game of assembling a team, yes, and having a better team is key to winning. However, once the actual gameplay kicks in only a halftime banner ad serves as a reminder that this is free-to-play. And considering how much advertising is in professional sports, that’s downright subtle!

FootballHeroes-9The in-game options leave a lot to be desired, though. For one, there’s no sense of time or any urgency while playing – the end of a half might come suddenly, without any sense of warning. Having an announcer to give context to the action and scenarios would help. The AI doesn’t really act like it’s in any rush as the clock winds down. Key football strategies are missing. Down late and need the ball back? Too bad, there are no timeouts, onside kicks, or two-point conversions. It feels like for such a competitive football game, there is just so much missing.

And that’s the frustrating thing about Football Heroes: there’s a lot of promise, and the core engine is great, but the trappings of football – the idiosyncracies and the strategies – that are missing? They matter a lot. They make Football Heroes be less than it should be.


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