Game Reviews

NFL Flick Quarterback

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NFL Flick Quarterback

Everyone knows that the coolest player on the American-football field is the quarterback. He’s the one who makes the plays, hurtles the ball dozens of yards into the sure grip of receivers, and then takes his pick of the cheerleaders at the after-game party.

At least, that’s what movies like Goldie Hawn’s Wildcats taught us Brits. The reality, however, is that there’s a lot of responsibility resting on those broad, thickly padded shoulders.

Entire games can be decided on the accuracy of a single pass, and it’s this tense experience that NFL Flick Quarterback gamely tries to emulate, though not without a few fumbles along the way.

Fan service

With the official blessing of the NFL, the game lets you pick the jersey/helmet combo of your favourite team.

A short tutorial then eases you into the basics of gameplay, which is almost entirely centred around pulling off deft passes upfield with a flick of the screen - rendered in sharp HD graphics (with smooth animations to boot).

Fans of other Full Fat Productions titles, like Flick Golf, will be right at home with the simple mechanics, even if they’ve never touched a Madden game before.

The bomb

Placing the camera behind the shoulders of your player, the main mode - Playmaker - sees you make an increasingly tricky series of passes to a lone receiver farther upfield.

Swiping up the screen, usually in a curve to spin the ball, sends the stitched leather oval hurtling through the air on a fixed path - though you can add after-touch swipes to impart extra spin in one direction.

To complicate matters, there are always two opposing defenders out to either block your receiver, intercept the ball, or tackle you (sapping one of your three lives in the process).

An icon under the receiver’s feet glows red when he’s blocked, but switches to yellow when he’s free, so the skill lies in waiting for the perfect break to fire off your throw.

Dither too long and one of the defenders will try and sack you, forcing a panicky swipe across the screen to try and juke around him (a skill familiar to fans of Backbreaker Football).

Although there are odd moments when your swipes don’t register, especially when juking, the thrill of pulling off long range passes is seriously satisfying - especially when the wind starts picking up and defenders become more aggressive.

Bin it

Although NFL Flick Quarterback comes with four modes (including the tutorial), the Playmaker mode is arguably the only one worth sticking with.

Two further Trick Shot mini-games can be unlocked through the game’s experience system, which sees you rise from Novice to Hall of Hamer by earning XP for high scores, but both are garbage. Literally.

Instead of dramatic on-field action, you’ll be trying to hurl the ball into a growing number of empty rubbish bins. This may well be a genuine NFL training activity, but it’s dull as ditch water in practice and your swipes are rarely accurate enough to land the ball in such small targets.

Rushing the end zone

Consequently, the game’s long-term appeal is determined by how long you’re willing to persevere with the Playmaker mode. Personally, we found it massively compulsive until the lack of online leaderboards reared its head.

Yes, there are achievements to unlock for pulling off fantastic scores, but the lack of anyone real to compete against makes it a hollow exercise. So you’re left with a slice of flicking good fun that falls just short of making a perfect play.

NFL Flick Quarterback

Pulling off gravity defying passes is as satisfying as you’d imagine, but the game lacks more imaginative modes and online leaderboards
Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
A newspaper reporter turned games journo, Paul's first ever console was an original white Game Boy (still in working order, albeit with a yellowing tinge and 30 second battery life). Now he writes about Android with a style positively dripping in Honeycomb, stuffed with Gingerbread and coated with Froyo