Image via Wikipedia Yep, TWO NFL Football games going head to head! Who will come out on top? Welcome to our first mobile game shootout!
Our perennial favorite, from the 800-lb gorilla known as EA Sports and the Madden franchise, is Madden NFL 2009. Based on almost the same engine that powers NCAA Football 2009 (reviewed earlier), this game has a lot going for it, including full 3D, Madden endorsement, and full NFL cooperation including team colors and player names.
Our challenger, from Gameloft, a relative newcomer but well-established in the mobile arena, is NFL 2009. This game features all the teams and team logos, and players, but appararently, did NOT license the team colors. Which is VERY strange. Thus, SF 49'ers will appear in BLUE, instead of their regular colors: RED or WHITE. What's going on here? At least they offer a couple different choices, such as "retro" colors, but none of them look right. They do have player names though.
Initial Impression: both games makes a decent initial impression, with NFL 2009 having a slightly flashier intro screen and electronic music, but Madden have much better sound, including voice commentary and rock music, and music stops after 5 seconds, instead of repeating ad infinitum.
Team Roster: there seems to be no way to change the team roster in NFL 2009 at all. Whereas in Madden there is a "Front Office" choice where you can see every player in the team and their ratings, and who's assigned to play and who's not, and this is where you make substitutions. Neither offers a way to make substitutions during the game (that I can find).
Season Setup: Both games allow you to setup a "season" where you play in a simulated league, with your choices of length of quarters (5 minute quarters are popular, but you can go for 3, 7, 10, or even 15). Season can be full or abbreviated.
ADVANTAGE: None, it's a tie
Kick-off: NFL 2009 is a 2D game that seems to offer very little control to the actual plays. Madden, on the other hand, is a 3D game, that simply looks way better than NFL 2009. A kick-off looks like a kickoff, with the ball making its 3D trajectory. Then the ball is caught, the game pauses as the field rotates 180, and you start the "return".
Coaching: In NFL 2009, you can see drawn routes on the field AND flip the play so it plays the other way (left vs right). It also feels like it has more plays in the library, with 3 variations of distance on both run and pass plays.
Both games have "coach suggested play".
Madden seems to have given different teams different playbook, perhaps depending on QB ratings. While at first it seems to have less plays than NFL 2009, and no ability to flip, this doesn't seem to affect game play much.
ADVANTAGE: NFL 2009
General look and feel: Madden is a full 3D game where NFL 2009 is a 2D game. The average player on Madden is about 4 times if not larger than a player sprite on NFL 2009. Enough said. NFL 2009 also has odd "jersey color" problems. Why don't the teams get their proper color jersies when you did license their logos, eh?
First Quarter: Madden's engine is the same as NCAA, so the players are doing the same things between goals, like shrug shoulders, victory run after Point-after or touchdown, the "dance", the "belly bounce", are all moves seen in NCAA 2009, except the players in Madden are a bit bulkier and wears NFL colors. At least these are appropriate and random, whereas the 2D sprites in NFL 2009 don't do much at all, except some FIREWORKS in the endzone (!) and players doing jumping-splits (!). NFL 2009 does have commentary, but it's text form, and it can be turned off. Madden have VERBAL commentary from the commentators instead ("Defense has that play read from the get-go!")
Second Quarter: The run feels a lot livelier in Madden, as each running back is allowed a bit of special ability, such as "dive", "spin", "power", "showboat", "speed burst", and so on. Using the spin at the right time will break free from tackles, and a dive can add 5 or more yards to bad situation. It is actually possible to do kick-off returns and punt-returns for touch-downs in Madden. Perhaps a bit too easy, but the point is it's possible. Not so in NFL2009. You simply don't move anywhere as fast as the AI defenders, and you can't do diagonal moves! Add that to the truly TINY sprites (even on my large-screen LG VX9900 enV), and the result is severe disappointment.
Third-Quarter: Passing is the other part of football that's very important. The problem with NFL 2009 is it only allows you to have THREE receivers, and it assigns them to strange button combos: Z, C, and 0, on my QWERTY-keyboard enV. Why? The sprites are small enough that I can't tell if my guy is really fighting their guy for the ball or not. Even an incomplete pass isn't "obvious". Madden on the other hand, animates EVERYTHING, with up to 4 receivers per play. Press OK to start pass mode, then within a time limit, press one arrow key to pass to that receiver. Much easier, and you can even convert the play back to a QB sneak if there are no receivers open at all.
Fourth-Quarter: special team moves are pretty much tied... Kicking is pretty much the same... Press a key to start, press key to "aim" as the arrow points left and right... then press arrow again to adjust "power" as the power meter goes up and down. Then press it again, and the kick is off... The problem with NFL2009 is you have to put in your own left/right adjustments... What's CENTER isn't where the goal post is. Difficulty is higher, and for little gain.
Over-time: I know NFL don't do overtimes, but there are other quirks about these games you should know. Madden and NFL 2009 both have AI taking time-outs, which is good. However, NFL 2009 also has play clock, and will give you "delay of game" penalties if you run those out.
ADVANTAGE: NFL 2009
Final Decision: the decision is obvious... Madden NFL 2009 beats beats NFL 2009 in almost every matchup except 2.
Madden NFL 2009 (EA Sports)
Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10 (!)
Pros: Every NFL team, individual "power" feels "special"
Cons: May be a bit TOO easy at times
NFL 2009 (Gameloft)
Overall rating: 6.5 out of 10
Pros: colorful, lots of plays
Cons: tiny sprites, lack of control over the play
About This Place
First started in late 2007, Kasey's Mobile Game Review (then just a regular feature of Kasey's Korner) started as a simul-post between here and IGN. Later I realized there's no reason to post it twice, when I can use the traffic on my own site. so, here we are, in 2010, and the mobile game industry has grown a bit. What do you think?