Sports gamers have surely noticed that the quality and quantity of sports iPhone apps has improved in the past couple of months, creating a competitive environment the sports game genre has not previously seen. Here's a look at the highlights.
Perhaps the most anticipated sports app in recent memory was Madden NFL 10, and the Electronic Arts release was met with praise following its September release.
Like the console versions, Madden offers real teams and players, detailed playbooks and an overall good football simulation experience. But unlike the console versions, the app has controls that are unique to the iPhone and a slow-motion mode to help you adjust gameplay. All told, Madden is as good as it gets for football- game junkies.
NFL 2010 has many of the same features as Madden, such as an NFL license and season mode, but its controls and artificial intelligence are inferior. The Gameloft product is still fun and boasts a lower price ($2.99 vs. $9.99). There's also a free version for those of you who want to give it a test run first.
For those who aren’t concerned with having a realistic football game, Backbreaker Football will be of interest. This arcade-style effort puts you in a kick-returner role and requires you to spin-and-juke from oncoming tacklers as you head for the end zone. Though this may be a more limited game than NFL 2010 or Madden NFL 10, it also has good controls and better graphics.
Gameloft and EA find themselves going head-to-head in the soccer arena as well, as both companies released soccer simulations in September.
Real Soccer 2010 and FIFA 10 share many similarities. They both have season modes as well as superstar modes, where you guide a single player through a season and earn attribute points. Both games also have multi-player Wi-Fi modes as well as real teams and players.
FIFA does have more teams (30 leagues compared to 8 leagues), while Real Soccer has a slightly easier and smarter control set-up. Soccer fans can’t go wrong with either, as the only real difference is the gameplay.
X2 Games apparently missed the ‘how to name your soccer title’ memo. Don’t be fooled by X2 Soccer 2009’s name, as this game is just as current as the other two and on par with them in terms of quality as well.
This app might be my favorite when it comes to control schemes, as it’s the one that won’t require studying. While X2 Soccer’s graphics are just as good, it does not have as many modes as the other two and far fewer real players than FIFA. Still, it very much deserves to be mentioned in the same breath.
Where baseball falls behind in simulation-style games, it makes up for in arcade-style games. Just because these games don’t have real teams and players doesn’t mean they’re not fun.
Fans of Baseball Superstars will love the 2010 version of the game, as it sports many improvements. The highlight is its great RPG-style superstar mode, though I’m afraid many will be turned off by its cartoon-like graphics and lack of realism. Power Pros Touch. This app looks like it’s straight off the Nintendo Wii, and while it has good graphics, they may be too toy-like for many people. The biggest problem with this game, though, is a lack of modes (just exhibition and season mode) and only six teams.
9 Innings: Pro Baseball 2009 is yet another fictional-based baseball game, though not of the same quality as Superstars and Power Pros. Graphically, it has a distinct comic book style that isn’t up to the standards of the other two. Furthermore, the gameplay isn’t as fun, though that’s more of a personal preference.
If you’re dying for real players, then try MLB World Series 2009. The game also includes a limited number of real stadiums and makes an attempt at a more realistic look. While I’m excited to see a 2010 version of this game return next Spring, this version isn’t as good as the fictional ones.