Note: This review was done using the Xbox 360 version of the game. It is also available on the Playstation 3.
For many people NFL Blitz brings back memories of the last hurrah of arcades. For me though, when I think of NFL Blitz, I think of a dark basement and round robin tournaments between my friends on the original Sony Playstation. I think of playing as the Miami Dolphins and making Dan Marino into the most mobile quarterback to ever play football. I also remember angry opponents threatening to powerbomb me if I did not stop using cheap plays. Ah, those were the days.
When Electronic Arts announced that they would be re-launching the long dormant Midway football franchise, I wondered if they would be able to successfully recapture the magic of those many nights spent playing Blitz in a dark basement with my friends. They did not. This EA Sports’ iteration of NFL Blitz is not the same game fans of the original remember playing. It is something different.
On the surface NFL Blitz seems to hit the right beats that one would expect from the franchise. Seven on seven football, 30 yards for a first down, wrestling moves for tackles, turbo boosts, players igniting on fire, it is all there in the game. However, the more I played it the more it seemed like something about it all was off. At first I thought it was the lack of late hits, because that is the most obvious change to the original design. However, the more I thought about it the more I felt, that while late hits were a big atmospheric aspect in the original, their exclusion does not really affect the way the game is played. That is when it dawned on me that the game plays slow.
Plays take longer to develop, turbo boosting is hardly effective and catching on fire is nearly meaningless, in essence NFL Blitz now plays less like an arcade game and more like an actual football game. Some players may love this change, for me though, it sucks a lot of the fun out of it. This new NFL Blitz just does not have the same heart and soul that that the original had.
Despite the shift in focus, and my disappointment, the game can provide some fun. There are a number of different modes to play, including a single player campaign that plays out like an old-school fighting game and a pair of online modes that may keep some players invested in the game for a good chunk of time.
One of those online modes, the Elite League, utilizes the customizable card game format other EA Sports games have used, to mixed results. On one hand the Elite League succeeds in tapping into the innate desire of players to want to collect everything and build the best team possible. On the other it is highly unbalanced and may turn off some players because their teams are far outmatched. It is a shame that the collecting and team building could not have been in a hybrid style, offering players the opportunity to create their best team without ever having to go online if they did not want to.
However, single player gauntlets and online matches with fantasy rosters is not where NFL Blitz excels. That still firmly rests in the camp of playing with your friends. While the game may be slower and more sanitized than its forbearers nothing quite beats sitting on your couch and watching your friends face as you sack him for the third time in a row making it 4th down and 57 yards to go.
- Looks like NFL Blitz should
- Fun competitive couch play
- More football game than arcade game
- Online Elite League is fundamentally unbalanced
3 / 5