App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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No matter the platform and no matter the majority of the user base, anything that allows for interactive media tends to see a slew of new football video games each year, typically with titles ending in the upcoming year. It's great for fans of the sport because it allows them to pick and choose the game which suits them best. However, it does tend to over-saturate the market a bit. With that in mind, it's time to grab a mop and bucket (for the over saturation, silly) as we take a look at Gameloft's NFL Pro 2012.
The general idea here is a fairly basic one: take a game of "touch" football (har-har) and incorporate a number of free-to-play elements such as in-app purchases, special currencies and experience gains that unlock new things. It's an idea that becomes much more interesting once we consider the whole "constantly unlocking new content" thing. Anyway, this is NFL Pro 2012 in a nutshell.
Gameloft has instituted some admittedly clever ideas here. One of the biggest draws of freemium games for me, and I imagine many other players, is the sense of consistent progression. Virtually every action in NFL Pro 2012 earns experience, be it sacking the oppositions QB or scoring a field goal. As a player's profile gains levels, they'll be able to upgrade their players' individual stats as well as purchase new and fancy plays. It's the kind of perpetual rewards system that will undoubtedly keep many a player glued to their iOS device of choice.
Where it all begins to break down is in the actual implementation. For one thing, unlocking plays is incredibly expensive. Oh sure, it's affordable to buy the one-time use, but to permanently unlock it requires lots of in-game cash. But the bigger problem is that the interface just doesn't feel quite right. Some of the action buttons (on offense and/or defense) have a slight delay between uses while others have to be held or tapped repeatedly. It gets a bit confusing in a pinch, and the game always seems to be in a pinch because it moves incredibly fast. To a fault, really. Many of the touch controls (such as tapping an icon over a receiver's head to pass) are responsive enough, but the action itself moves at a pace that's very difficult to follow. Tackling a QB only to realize he'd supposedly (and successfully) passed the ball to a teammate a split second before I'd taken him down is just the tip of the iceberg.
It's not all doom and gloom, though. NFL Pro 2012 may be rough in places and feel a little shady in others, but it's still a decent game of football. One that comes with the ever-addictive qualities of freemium RPG-like progression and a fantastic price tag.