Freeverse has come out with the first officially licensed NBA basketball game for the iPhone, but does it really stack up, or is it just a mediocre game, with a license that sells?
Well first of all, the NBA license is put to pretty good use, there is one big name player from every NBA team, so chances are, your favorite player will be in the game. Unless you like some obscure player that no one has heard of, in which case, you’re out of luck.
Flick NBA Basketball is not a full basketball game in the sense of 5 players on the court playing a full game of bball. (how I shall be referring to basketball for the rest of this review, most of the time, at least) Rather it is a series of mini games. In total there are 5 mini games here, well really 4, because the ball spinning mode hardly counts as a full fledged game, more like something to play for 3 seconds and move on.
Besides spinning a basketball on your finger there is the classic h.o.r.s.e. mode, where you tap a location on the screen you want to shoot from, and if you make the shot, your opponent has to match the shot, or he gets a letter, the first player to get h.o.r.s.e loses.
The next mode is 3 point shoot out, this is the mode you see in the NBA all star game, where there are 5 racks of balls, and you have to make an many shots as you can within the allotted time.
The fifth and final play mode is hot shot, this one confuses me in that it is an arcade basketball game. There’s one of the those machines that you see in an arcade that moves farther back with time, but what I find weird is that the machine is laying right in the middle of the arena all the other modes take place in. I just found it odd to be playing arcade basketball while an arena full of people cheared me on, kind of made me wish real life arcades worked like that.
Here’s where things get a little strange with Flick NBA, there are 2 different shooting mechanics, depending on the mode you are playing. Hot Shot and 3 point shootout use a more traditional swipe your finger in the direction of the hoop shooting method. The harder you swipe it, the farther the ball travels, kind of the normal for a basketball game on the iPhone. However, h.o.r.s.e and longshot both use a slightly modified form of this mechanic. Instead of just swiping your finger whenever you want, there is a meter that appears on the screen, the idea is to time your swipe while the little basketball is in the middle of the meter, it makes shooting a little more challenging, because there is 2 layers to shooting.
I understand why they choose to go with the metered shot in the modes where time isn’t an issue, and accuracy is the focus, but I still don’t agree with having 2 different mechanics in the same game. I feel that if you are going to make a bball game, then there should be one shooting mechanic for the player to learn and master, and I don’t like the inconsistency.
The arenas are gorgeously rendered. Every detail right down to the way everything reflects off the floor look great. The crowd even looks pretty good which is impressive for an iPhone game to be able to do.
The sound is also very good. The ambient sound of the crowd is very enjoyable. The music is also nice, and I am especially fond of the song in the opening menu, it’s a very solid beat, that I have yet to get bored listening to, even after hearing it like 100 times.
The game itself is pretty good, in terms of how it actually plays, I found the controls to work really well in the Hot Shot and 3 point shoot out mode, but since there are 2 control methods, that leads me to….
I’m not a fan of the meter control method in h.o.r.s.e and long shot mode. I found it be hard to time because stopping the meter is based on the when you start sliding your finger forward, and not when you touch the screen. I think the game would have been much better served if they only used the first control method.
I may have started off with the good part of the review with the graphics, but it’s not all sunny and pretty in the land of visuals. The character models are not particularly good, especially their hands, they just look like blobs. They aren’t the worst rendered thing I’ve seen on the iPhone, but they are not nearly as good as the rest of the game. Also, when a shot is made, the net doesn’t move, and while this a small gripe, it bothered me none the less.
The game gets old really quickly, which is a major flaw. There are a few modes in there, but they are all variances on one basic concept, standing in one place and shooting a ball at a hoop. While they may have thrown in some other modes to attempt to keep things fresh, it still just wont hold anyone’s interest for very long.
Overall, Flick NBA Basketball is decent. It’s not a game I would jump on right away unless you are a huge fan of the sport and really want to play a game with your favorite player on your iPhone, otherwise I would pass on it.
Presentation & Graphics
The arenas are beautiful, but the character models are lacking, and thus keep the score from being as high as it could be.
The sound is really good. The music is fitting in the game and sound effects are great.
The gameplay could be a lot better if they stuck with one control method, but putting in 2 just confuses gamers and over complicates things.
Even with 5 different modes, there just isn’t much to keep you coming back for more.
An average game here, nothing to write home about, but if you really love the NBA it may worth picking up just to play with NBA stars on your iPhone.