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NFL Blitz Review


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On 01/10/2012 at 11:33 PM by Rob Ottone

NFL Blitz fumbles the pigskin ...
RECOMMENDATION:

Only for those with a buddy to play co-op sessions with.

NFL Blitz is a franchise with an interesting history. Going from being an actual NFL-licensed property with a relatively deep strategic angle, to an unlicensed product that seemed like it was truly gunning for ESPN’s highly-supported television drama, “Playmakers,” Blitz: The League (as it was re-branded) attempted to take a more “realistic” approach to the concept of video game football. This “realism” included bone-shattering and skull-destroying injuries that could be inflicted upon players. Despite these changes, Blitz: The League found its way into my heart very quickly, eclipsing the merits of both its arcade and home console predecessors.

Clearly EA was trying to design this latest incarnation of NFL Blitz just like its predecessors. Unfortunately, they've done it to a fault. Fact of the matter is, the original Blitz came out more than a decade ago and since then a variety of gameplay improvements have been made to football video games. These aren't represented here and as a result, it hurts the flow of the game.

The punting meter is a great example of this. Still moving schizophrenically back and forth, it makes punting (or kicking a field goal) an aggravating endeavor. Even worse, I can't choose a receiver to throw the ball to. While I understand simplifying things in the name of arcade style gameplay, it wouldn't have been too overwhelming to give me a choice of receiver instead of waiting for the game to light one up to throw it to.

The game feels very smooth, albeit, a bit sketchy. There were times where I was gunning to sack - I mean "push" - the quarterback, only to find my player diving headfirst to the QB's feet. I was certainly targeting the quarterback, and upon trying again (as well as my friend making multiple attempts as well), we often ended up with the same results, either diving past the quarterback or landing at his feet.

The thin playbooks don't help matters any either. While I don’t want the insanely detailed playbooks and stats of a Madden title, I would like to see an extra page of offensive plays that are exclusive to each team. I think perhaps downloadable playbooks are an interesting concept the developers may want to look into, to add a bit more depth to the game. That said, a streamlined playbook works in favor of the arcade presentation, though, as a downloadable title, some variation would be nice.

The Blitz Store offers plenty of customizable options for players who take their football experience online. By playing with others, you score points that can be traded in at the Blitz Store for various items like concept art, helmet designs, Fantasy Players (these are the Gladiators and Robots mentioned earlier), and modern-day NFL pros. As much fun as it may be to put Brian Urlacher on my fantasy team, I would prefer a mode that utilizes the legends of the NFL in a way that All-Pro Football 2K8 did. Give me Lawrence Taylor, Johnny Unitas or Earl Campbell over Tom Brady any day.

For a game that seems to adhere to the NFL’s bizarre anti-violence standards, NFL Blitz lazily re-uses animations from previous titles. Some hits that would end a character’s career just fall flat (a power bomb followed by terrible dialogue courtesy of the horrendous announcing duo), while players engage in helmet-to-helmet contact and blatantly grab one-another’s facemasks and collars.

By neutering the game of football (in both real life and in gaming), you lose the kind of playing style that football fans long for. Madden does well every year for its deep stats and playbooks, while also delivering a streamlined and TV-style presentation football fans clamor for. NFL Blitz misses the mark by not utilizing the insane, injury-inflicting fun of its previous, unlicensed titles to make a game that just plain isn’t fun in single player.

While co-op was certainly a more enjoyable experience, my mind remains unchanged, as this version NFL Blitz doesn’t sit well with me. The removal of late hits, the lack of design implementations refined in later games (Blitz: The League and its sequel), the overall reduction in strategy basically turn the game into an exercise in repetition and boredom. As enjoyable as NFL Blitz was in the arcades and original console ports, and as insane and violent as its unlicensed counterpart was, the new NFL Blitz lacks the fun and intensity that most football fans are looking for.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Our Take

Rob DiMola Staff Alumnus

01/11/2012 at 12:40 PM

I can't say I completely agree with your take on this game for a few different reasons. I am probably one of the biggest advicates of NFL Blitz over time, as it is one of my favorite games ever. At first glimpse, I was not a huge fan of this game mainly because I compared it to Blitz 2000. Blitz 2000 was easily the best title of the Blitz series, so this was an unfair stand point for me to rate this game.

When I finally decided to let go of the idea that this game could compare to Blitz 2000, I found myself beginning to appreciate the game a little more. As I played more frequently, I got used to the controls and adapted to the differences. While there are many things in this version that I could pick at and change to enhance the quality of the gameplay, I still think the game was done pretty nicely. 

I know you have some problems with the idea of a small playbook, but I actually prefer a small playbook because that's what NFL Blitz has always had. If you go back to the original title, the playbook was tiny. It wasn't until Blitz 2002 where the playbook expanded. All of these plays are designed so that the user has to create some originality in order to move the ball down field. This allows the game to become a lot more challenging where the users have the opportunity to develop some skills. Having a larger playbook would remove a lot of the strategy involved in the game in my personal opinion. There would be a lot less creativity.

Another thing I disagree with you on is the concept of punting. Just because games have decided to try and make punting more realistic doesn't mean it belongs in NFL Blitz. The point of NFL Blitz is not to punt, ever. There's a reason why a first down is 30 yards rather than 10. That reason is because of how easy you can gain large amounts of yards on each play. If punting was so easy, then more people would do it, causing the game to be much less exciting. Going for it on 4th down has always been an exciting aspect of the game regardless if you are on offense or defense. 

In all, this game is still a great arcade football game, easily better than the terrible attempts of games such as Madden Arcade. This game is also only $15 rather than the $60 that Madden commands. In my opinion, for $15 you are definitely getting your money's worth.

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