What do you get when you combine Fruit Ninja, Backbreaker Football, and an NFL license? It seems like that’s what the developers of NFL Flick Quarterback were trying to find out, but the product that’s available on the App Store doesn’t live up to the promise of its description.
You’d imagine controlling a quarterback on your iPhone would be more engaging than what NFL Flick Quarterback amounts to. Scanning the field, reading the defense, and trying to send a tight spiral to your teammate sounds like a lot of fun and NFL Flick Quarterback technically has all of that, but it fails in the specifics.
To be played while wearing a cheeshead.
The game has four modes, but none of them feels like a good application of the game’s core concept. The first mode is just a tutorial, and upon completing it you unlock the second mode: Playmaker. This is where the game could have been excellent, but simply isn’t. All you do is try to get the ball to a single receiver without getting sacked or throwing an interception. A basic change of having more than one receiver to choose between would have made this mode a lot more fun, but even the receiver that you do have can be frustrating to work with. Your teammate won’t always take the most sensible path to the ball, and once we saw him act as though he’d ran the ball out of bounds even though he wasn’t even close to the sidelines.
Obviously this isn’t a proper 11-on-11 game of professional football, but some of the changes from the real game aren’t given any context and will make you scratch your head, at least on first glance. The defenders don’t actually try to tackle your receiver, and the play ends if your receiver falls to the ground with the ball, untouched (whereas in real life, he could get up and finish the play). NFL Flick Quarterback isn’t trying to be Madden, but we think having a more realistic football experience would have been much more fun to play than the weirdly abstracted challenges you get in this game.
After unlocking Playmaker mode, you can then unlock two different trick shot modes. These amount to throwing the ball into a garbage can. Maybe you’ll find it more exciting than we did, but this didn’t feel like a rewarding context for the gameplay and it especially doesn’t seem like an exciting progression from what is more or less an analogue to real football.
Generally speaking, the game has good graphics. The interface and stadiums look great, but the players are less convincing. You can customize your quarterback to have whatever nameplate and number you want, but– unlike the real NFL– someone with a number less than 10 will have two digits on their back (05, 06, 07, etc). The game also doesn’t feature real players. This isn’t a problem in itself, but we saw some oddly unpronounceable names on the backs of our teammates’ jerseys. The load-screen bits of trivia are also a blemish on the game’s otherwise professional presentation: the stats they try to communicate to you are cryptically formatted, and one bit of trivia we found was awkwardly copy/pasted from the Pro Football Hall of Fame website.
These mistakes in presentation are fairly small issues, but they show a lack of inspiration from developers who are fortunate enough to have the NFL license. The gameplay on a whole shares this problem, as flicking the screen to pass a football is a great idea that just isn’t given enough room to be fun in NFL Flick Quarterback.