There's a new NFL game in town, and it aims to claim its share of the virtual football pie. NFL Showdown by Zynga is not a full-action game, but it's not entirely a simulation title either.
As a matter of fact, this is one of the most unique mobile sports games you'll see. By blending concepts of the card-collecting craze with football manager ideals and a sprinkle of fantasy sports, NFL Showdown looks to keep fans interested in a fast-paced and engrossing football experience.
To add to the appeal, the game uses real players, teams and logos to make things look and feel more authentic. As one of the few virtual football games with the NFL license, that tidbit is a major plus.
The in-game action is relayed sim-style. Fans who have played football managers might be familiar with the text and image-driven results. The interface for the game looks excellent and is designed to keep players interested and invested in their team's improvement.
A new season begins every month, so gamers could essentially win a Super Bowl every 30 days. This is designed to be more inclusive and forgiving than a fantasy football experience where fans might find their cause to be hopeless after the first three to four weeks.
In between games, users are charged with managing the health, skills and preparedness of the players on their roster throughout an entire season. During the allotted time between games, users can maintain their player's conditioning as well as manage the health of those who have suffered injuries during games and practices.
The time between games is also used to set strategies for upcoming opponents. You can simply pick one approach on offense and/or defense without making any changes throughout the season, or you can intently manage your squad's strategies on a weekly basis.
In addition to the manager aspects of the title, there's also a fantasy element.
If you don't like the players on your favorite team, you can make moves with the goal of creating your ideal roster. You may not be able to have Calvin Johnson with the Carolina Panthers in real life, but if you make the right moves in the auction house or through the game's free-agency system, you just might add Megatron.
There's also a real-life fantasy football connection. Per the Zynga press release: "During the real-world NFL season, NFL Showdown players will receive in-game boosts based on the points they have earned through NFL Fantasy Football, helping increase their chances of winning the season."
That's a pretty sweet connection. We'll see if the product catches on.
The game went live on Thursday and is available for free on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android devices.
Follow Brian Mazique, aka FranchisePlay, the Sports Video Game Journalist.