Are you looking for a decent American football game on iPhone? So are we. Fundamental flaws keep NFL 2010 from becoming the game it sets out to be.
The problems start at kick-off. NFL 2010 opts for a set of oscillating gauges in the lower corners of the screen for its kicking game. Tapping the left one sets the angle of your kick, while the one on the right determines the power. It's a rudimentary mechanic that does nothing to take advantage of the touchscreen: it's functional, but not fun.
Passing wisely leverages the touchscreen, though ease of control isn't enough to overcome aggravating imbalances against the running game. Tapping the geometric icon of a player during a play signals your guys to pass the ball. The icon's colour - red, yellow, or green - lets you know the probability of completing the pass.
Unfortunately, it's an unreliable indicator due to the overwhelming rate of incomplete passes. Players on the opposing team always have the fortune of rushing in to block a pass, even when it looks like your receiver is wide open. It's unbalanced to the point that you're forced to give up passing completely.
As a result, NFL 2010 is essentially a running game, albeit a shallow one. The playbook is limited, though it wouldn't be such an issue if you could call audibles: instead, you're limited to the designated plays.
Why can't you draw hot routes on the screen using a finger? Touch controls make perfect sense for modifying plays and yet it's completely overlooked. At the very least, the game should let you create a set of custom formations to be included in the playbook.
After the snap, you're given a limited set of options to deal with opponents. A stiff analogue stick makes it difficult to manoeuvre through the defensive line, which leaves you to rely on jukes pulled off by tapping icons that pop up in the lower-right corner. It's a tactic that earns you yardage, though it's not exactly conducive to varied, exciting gameplay.
Defensive play is better only because you're no longer dealing with the major imbalances of the offensive game. Problematic mechanics combined with bizarre behaviour by the computer - the quarterback frequently holds onto the ball without moving, punting when other plays are viable - make it much easier to play defence. Not that there's much pleasure to be had in defending against such a troubled offence.
Even the game's slate of modes leaves something to be desired. NFL 2010 puts the focus on Season mode, which barely more than a string of exhibition games. Roster changes don't have a noticeable impact on play and there's no option to trade or draft players, let alone improve their skills with training.
Of course, the big omission is multiplayer - not even an option for head-to-head Bluetooth play is provided. An update later in the season promises to incorporate both online and peer-to-peer multiplayer, but launching without either is an enormous disappointment.
Lack of multiplayer aside, NFL 2010 has more than enough problems to deal with including an imbalanced passing game, shallow running play, and lacklustre kicking. Unless these systems are overhauled, bringing online play into the fold will only highlight, not alleviate its shortcomings.