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Football Heroes [Free] by Run Games is a sports lover’s wet dream come true. Combining crazy gameplay elements from past satirical sports franchises (Mutant League Football, Blitz, and Tecmo Bowl) with simplistic and strategic play-calling, Football Heroes is without question the best American sports portrayal on the app store. FB leaves out all seriousness and infuses an abundance of fun that overflows through its presentation, wit, and perfect controls. It has very minor technical glitches that I can completely overlook as it has easily become my most used app. For its advancement of a genre, controls, and presentation, it is an absolute no-brainer to download, play, and keep.

FB’s presentation is light-hearted and echoes an extensive amount of fan appreciation. The app references the humble Kickstarter beginnings as field decals and player names (campaign backers) are given a loud Easter egg salute. Upon starting Football Heroes, an immediate tutorial is provided to indoctrinate the uninitiated to general football nomenclature, controls, and play calling. This creates a low entry level so non-sports enthusiast will find the same amount of pleasure chucking the pigskin all over the field. Even more spectacular than its knack to teach game mechanics, is the option to fully customize my team and each individual player. Uniform colors and logos can be manipulated as well as player names and appearances. If I want to create a team of fluorescent ghouls or cuddly critters, I have the tools and the choices are endless. Unfortunately, there is no stadium editor or major field effects (more on that in the review) as that would have made a colossal visual triumph. Still, I was thoroughly impressed by the final product.

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The meat of Football Heroes is gameplay. From the opening kickoff, I immediately feel like I am playing back-alley, in-your-face, smash-mouth football. The “smash-mouth” is 100 percent due to the ability to either tackle ball carriers with standard dives (swipe) or utilizing fisticuffs (tapping) that can cause turnovers and great carnage. Playing offense is definitely the highlight of any particular match; selecting run or pass plays is not just a mundane choice as defenses’ weaknesses can be exploited with proper play calls. Running the ball is self-explanatory whereas passing is quick and fluid. Tapping on a desired receiver tosses a spiraling pass making the carnage of bodies and cartoonish violence oh so fun. Defenses also have a level of complexity that maintains a general balance throughout each match as selecting the best play may initiate a “defensive counter” to swing the advantage back to my squad. If I had one suggestion about playing Football Heroes, it is to play it on the largest screen possible as some maneuvers, like spin moves, may not respond as quickly on smaller areas of surface (iPhones). Still it controls as great as one could expect on a mobile device. One last gameplay plus is local multiplayer which I will leave to the imagination about how awesome it is.

The rules of the sport are generally the same as reality; however, they can be manipulated to take advantage of the competition. Football Heroes accomplishes this feat by instituting one or many special abilities to certain players. And with such variation in powered attacks and counters, the app becomes a meta-practice in knowing my arsenal as well as when to deploy it. All abilities have the potential to change the course of any given game. However, they are not guaranteed to work and are limited by a play/cooldown timer which if used too early, could be devastating in crucial moments. I never felt like I was totally playing offense or defense; Football Heroes completely encourages scoring and making plays no matter if I possessed the ball or not and it is an amazing accomplishment that I have yet to have on any mobile or console platform.

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From app presentation, to CCG elements for players, and plush gameplay that will last for hours, Football Heroes is more than a “beat ‘em up”; it is a major leap forward in the mobile sports genre and a testament to what can be achieved with great development and patience.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • revolverblue85

    And online multiplayer soon baby. No pay walls, no timers.

    • Mess

      Is there a catch? It seems to be good fun, so I will probably download either way, but there must surely be IAP or something...

      • chief78

        I was thinking the same thing....where's the bad in this package? Freemium is still freemium...

      • {SQUEEK}

        No catch. You can buy if you want or grind to get guys. Lots of fun. Worth a play.

      • Mess

        Thanks. Next question; iPad mini or iPhone 4S

      • {SQUEEK}

        I play on my phone 5 but i like it better on my mini.

      • Mess

        To play on that is...

      • Jake7905

        It is a good game, but there is a soft paywall, which can be overcome by grinding for coins. I bought the doubler, and even with that, I had to do some serious grinding to be able to afford any silver players or card packs.

        So even though I would call this freemium done right, it does encourage you to spend money with it's sudden difficultly spikes, low coin payouts (even doubled), and costly silver player cards. Did I mention that player card packs can ONLY be bought with real cash?

  • orton1227

    I played for a couple hours this weekend and just couldn't get the controls down enough to where it was responsive enough to the point where the game was fun. Once you get to the harder teams, the difference between switching players and spinning them is huge. Too often the computer would throw a 10 yard pass and run 80 yards because I couldn't switch players. The player I was on would just keep spinning even though I wasn't swiping. Too frustrating. If they put in on screen buttons in a future update, I'm in.

    • ffaust

      In order to get better players you need money. They offer a coin doubler for 1.99 to help out, otherwise gaining money can be tedious.

      The only complaint I have is the halves are short and the plays are limited. You can new plays with new decks but they are single use. All that aside it is a very fun game. Play it for free and decide for yourself.

      • PallaZ

        Your respond isn't even close to the problem the first guy explained.

      • PallaZ

        Response

    • {SQUEEK}

      From the forum they are looking into the buttons and virtual stick

    • Jake7905

      You do get used to the controls, though occasionally they'll bug out.

  • threejay1

    Anybody have trouble with the game being unplayable due to crashes? The game crashed at the end

    • threejay1

      Sorry, the app crashed at the end of my first game, and I haven't been able to play since. I get hung up at the "Restoring account" screen at startup, then the game crashes. I've been in contact with the developer, but haven't had the problem fixed yet.

    • CzarBrain

      Totally buzz kill. Can't even play first game.... App crashes everytime. - deleted.

  • NickyNichols

    This game is actually not "iPhone only SD" there is an HD/iPad version.

    • joaquin_ondamoon

      Anyone know if cloud saves transfer between iPad & iPhone?

      • andrew9oh7

        It does

      • http://zachlatta.com/ Zach Latta

        Your account will be synced between devices as long as you're logged into the same Gamecenter account.

  • Jason Meyer

    The game definitely hits a difficulty wall 3-4 games in. You either grind the same first 3 games. Or spend money. I would call that a paywall for sure.

    It was alot of fun and enjoyed it immensely till every play the comp ran was an 80 yard score.

    • sivad

      I've won up the 4th cup, no paywall and only lost one game

      • {SQUEEK}

        After 500 coins you buy a pack and get new guys. Yes you grind to get new guys but for each new guy train you earn coins. Im have beaten the pro bowl and currently on the third kick starter bowl i think ... Not a dime spent.

    • Jake7905

      There are difficultly spikes like that in every league you play in, and though they're designed to encourage you to spend, you can grind past them.

  • Amenbrother

    Love love love this game! Support these devs guys, this is nfl blitz but on your phone lol awesome!

  • philadendron

    My buddy and I bought the coin doubler at the beginning and he's about to beat the last team in the whole game. I'm about 70% through the game. Buying free agents and combo decks (with in-game currency) is key to competing with the CPU toward the end of the game. Your Silver players will become your heroes, able to completely take over a game. In that sense, the game is very compelling because acquiring, then leveling up, your Silver players produces very tangible rewards.

  • ODMay

    My team ready for Online Multiplayer.

  • shathox3x

    It's a great game IMO, but it crashes frequently. This needs to be fixed, as well as online support, rather than local wifi or Bluetooth.

  • denki_boy

    I absolutely love this game. If they made a more effective way to switch players, then it would be perfect. Every mishap I've encountered during a game has been related to switching players. Anyways, awesome game!

  • Imran Sheikh

    http://www.metacritic.com/game/ios/football-heroes-2013

    drop in on metacritic and show some love if ya feel it! :D

  • DtheGOPkiller

    I got so frustrated with no being able to switch dudes while running I deleted it. You have to stop running then tap. It drove me nuts.

  • ericluxury

    This game is cool, the difficulty spike was crazy at first, but once I realized how to swap in my good players it was fine.
    What I'd like to see updated is larger play books, ability to make longer games and online multiplayer. The longer games thing is a real problem as there is time per half for either 3 huge plays or 1 drive.

  • ffaust

    The latest update addresses some issues but there are still some glaring bugs.
    1. Sometime Stiff arm freezes my character in spot, he will knock some guys down but he is stuck in place.
    2. Sometime the bull charge move does the same thing, very frustrating when you are trying to break through the defense.
    3. The qb skill that let's a player vanish grants invulnerability, seen it happen several times while playing the western themed team in the Hollywood division.
    4. Part of the time my plays act as if they are being pulled off the screen.
    5. Need better understanding on which characters can level up, currently I have a lvl 3 silver qb card that is capped. His title is rusher.

    I enjoy the game immensely and have played through all but the Hollywood division, working on it now. I have spent $20 or so on coins and bought the doubler. Great game

Football Heroes Reviewed by Marquice Johnson on . Rating: 4.5