Although there was a lot of bru-ha-ha with the NFL license vis-à-vis console machines, the world’s most profitable football league’s teams and players are still available for use in the wireless arena. Electronics Arts doesn’t own everything here. They have their own game for wireless, but JAMDAT’s NFL 2006 is, in the final analysis, the best mobile football game you can get for the 2005-2006 season.
NFL 2006 comes with eight on eight action; a number that is enough to give football some tactics. It is organized to appeal to casual gamers as the plays themselves are arranged descriptively (i.e. short pass, long pass, run, etc.) instead of by formation. And the game features a pretty comprehensive tutorial that will teach you the basics of running, passing and defense.
In terms of strategy, I did find you’re a bit limited when it comes to play calling. For example, if you happen to choose a play that stacks your players up against a run, and you find out that the actual play is a pass, your only recourse seems to be to call a timeout. There are no audibles you can call and certainly no hot routes or anything sophisticated like that.
Most of the NFL’s players are featured here. There can only be so many on the field but obviously the big names are represented. Graphically, all the players look similar. The players are big on screen and the game gets around this when you’re in pass mode not with a zoom but with an interesting gameplay aid. When you drop back to pass, you’ll see all your receivers run with cell phone keys attached to them. So the receiver might have a # sign next to them and a colored border. Red means there’s no way he can catch the ball. Yellow is iffy. And green signals that the player is open. This is a great trick to get around the small screen of cell phones and a solid design decision that helps with the gameplay too.
Besides the decent visuals, JAMDAT managed to somehow fit in an announcer with digital sound clips in the game. I didn’t expect much from the cell phone’s small footprint but at the very least he covers the game fairly accurately.
I found NFL 2006 skewed towards passing. You can definitely get ahead by passing easier than by running since there aren’t any double teams or misassignments. I never encountered a penalty my whole time with the game. Pass rushing is also highly suspect in the game. If the offensive line can hold up against defenders, you literally have all day to pass. I timed this by simply sitting in the pocket waiting for the defenders to break through. But if they do end up breaking through, it’s downright impossible for the quarterback to make any plays. Yes – that happens even if you’re playing Michael Vick.
Indeed, while many marquee players are represented, I found them to be fairly ineffective. There’s no way Marvin Harrison or Tory Holt could actually drop balls even when I threw to them while they were green and open. This didn’t happen once in a single game but more than a few times.
Still, perhaps I’m spoiled by the many ultra-realistic features of a console football game. But the bottom line is, despite some of its drawbacks, I still played NFL 2006 like crazy. If I was waiting for the computer to load or do something, I’d whip out my NFL 2006 and lo and behold, not only did the computer finish its task, a half hour had passed by. If you want football on the go, JAMDAT’s NFL 2006 is your answer this year.