Publisher: Electronic Arts
Rating: E-10+ (Everyone 10 & up)
In 1997, Midway had two successful franchises based on over-the-top adaptions of their respective sports in NBA Jam and NFL Blitz. While NBA Jam had a brief revival, NFL Blitz was sporadically showing up with console versions and sequels. However, when Electronic Arts bought the rights to publish officially licensed National Football League endorsed games, Midway decided to take the NFL Blitz franchise and repackage it as Blitz: The League. The rebooted franchise featured fictional players and teams in a fictional league with slightly more realistic (though still exaggerated) on-field play and a focus on the seedy behind-the-scenes lives of the players.
Since that time, Midway has closed its doors for good and Electronic Arts has stepped in and rebooted the NFL Blitz franchise and brought it back to its over-the-top gameplay roots. So is this new NFL Blitz game a touchdown, or a fumbled opportunity at greatness?
1st and long
EA Sports and Tiburon have done their best to recreate the feeling of the old arcade game. Gameplay consists of thirty yard first downs, limited plays to call, and larger-than-normal players. All of it fits together nicely to bring back the old style of play to a current generation, with a few slight exceptions. Players still hit hard, and if there is a stalemate, at times the defensive player will throw the player with the ball in a variety of ways. There are still some hard hits that would give the normal NFL games a concussion. Players can catch fire, which gives them unlimited turbo, by completing a pass to the same player twice in a row, or sacking the quarterback for a loss twice in a row.
The controls of this game are simpler than other football games, including the Madden franchise. Where Madden players have the benefit of knowing the nuances of football, NFL Blitz does everything it can to simplify the game. This simplification helps you knock around players and throw deep down the field. Your offensive choices consist of mostly passing plays, which is the best way to get to the first down. Your defensive choices consist of a zone defense or man-to-man coverage. There are no penalties for pass interference, so early hits to prevent completed passes are not only permitted, but encouraged. Special teams are simplified to quick button presses. Press the snap button when attempting a field goal or an extra point to determine how accurate the attempt is or how far the ball will go.
The difficulty is ramped up to a level where every second of every minute to the final quarter will matter. Should a player get to overtime, there is one extra minute of play and the team that has the most points at the end of that minute is declared the winner.
Aside from the Play Now (exhibition match) mode, there are four other modes to play in the game, including Blitz Gauntlet, Blitz Battles, Elite League, and Online Co-Op. Blitz Gauntlet allows the player to pick a team and edit them to their heart’s content from anyone available in the game. From there, the player takes the team and faces off against a few standard NFL teams, then a boss-battle team – teams of robots, ninjas, and pirates take their turn facing off against you.
Blitz Battles can basically be described as the single-player version of Online Co-Op, with the exception that in Blitz Battles mode the game keeps tracks of leaderboards. In Blitz Battles, players go one-on-one with local, regional, or national players. Each local, regional, and national board has four tiers to climb, and points are given based on your performance during the game.
Elite Leagues are more complex. In this mode, you’re given a weak team that you must build up with the credit system (Blitz Bucks), and you can buy players and power-up cards that can be used during the game. Every player and power-up has a contract that lasts a certain amount of games. If you collect all the players from one team, you can trade them in for a Pro Player. Professional players have at least two maxed-out stats and an infinite contract. If you trade in all four teams from any division, you unlock an Ultimate Player. Ultimate Players have all maxed-out stats and come with unlimited contracts. Earning the Blitz Bucks are done by playing online. The Elite League mode also has a Risk-and-Reward function where players can gamble the cards they have collected against each other.
Let’s see who wants this game more
Tim Kitzrow, who you may remember from NBA Jam, does the play-by-play alongside his partner, actor and stand-up comedian Brian Haley. The commentary is both entertaining and funny. Kitzrow and Haley bounce one-liners and quick-hitting commentary off each other and you can tell they have good chemistry together. The music plays into the aggression of the game with a contemporary, upbeat feel. When hitting players, the collision sounds are over-the-top, and players make noises when hit.
He’s Going To Feel That In The Morning
NFL Blitz is a blast from the past with a few modern twists. The over-the-top style of gameplay is still there, but the hits aren’t as big as they used to be. Not only that, but the late hits after plays and touchdowns have been taken out. Another thing that is missing is the lack of a running game. The entire offense relies heavily on passing, unless a play breaks down or if there is a significant amount of room to run in front of you. The other thing that gets to us is the fact that the only real way to build up the team in the Elite League is through online play.
With all that said, NFL Blitz still has a lot of the fun that gamers from the arcade remember, but with new commentary and updated rosters. While the difficulty can border on frustrating at times, the game does its best to make every second count, which lets the gamer savor every victory they earn, and makes them come back should they lose. Since a couple of the game’s modes are online heavy, the servers do work well and keep the action fast-paced, with minimal lag. NFL Blitz costs $15 dollars or 1200 Microsoft Points. At this price, it’s a decent deal. If you’re a big online console gamer or you love the old NFL Blitz franchise, check this out.
Final Verdict: NFL Blitz gets 7 Flea Flicker Touchdowns out of 10
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This review is based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of NFL Blitz by Electronic Arts.