Yesterday, a co-worker was jazzed about Madden coming to iPhone. As someone who rarely pays for iPhone apps I was swayed to plunk down the $7.99 special price after I watched him play a game with my own eyes. The graphics were so good for the iPhone I thought this was a must have. That is until I took it for my own test spin.
The impressive graphics remain the best part of the game. The green grass is vibrant, the motion seems pretty fluid and at first glimpse the controls do what they say. The downfall of the game is all in the virtual thumb controller.
The thing is, a human thumb, at least mine, is a large digit that when resting on an iPhone screen will make the virtual thumbstick move downward, so you have to keep your thumb a bit elevated which will lead to awkward play, and a sore thumb. Players also don’t react to directional control very accurately.
I do like the slowdown mode which at the press of a virtual stopwatch button on the right side of the screen will put the game in slo-mo as you try and decide which receiver to throw to or which defender to select. That’s a cool touch. Play selection and the kicking control are also very well done for the platform.
Madden for the iPhone also reminds me of Tecmo Bowl circa 1989. Have a good running back and you can get 50 yards on almost any outside running play. I play with the Dolphins obviously and Ronnie Brown destroyed the Falcons and Colts D in both games.Because the application is so slimmed down the voiceovers – by Madden and Cris Collinsworth unfortunately – don’t include players’ names, team names and are limited to just a handful. You’ll hear the same line at least a dozen times a game. Fortunately, you can either turn off the commentators entirely or select tracks from your iPhone’s iPod and play them in game but it will cancel out game sounds.
While I don’t love the game as much as I was awed by it at first look, for NFL fanatics it may still be a must purchase.