NFL Blitz Review (PSN)
The NFL license returns to Blitz, and EA Sports attempts to reinvigorate Midway’s long-troubled franchise with this latest entry available exclusively on Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.
I must admit that everything I know about football was learned from the original NFL Blitz, NFL Blitz ’99, and NFL Blitz 2000 from the Nintendo 64, arcade, and Dreamcast. If you listen closely, you can even hear my friends saying “Micah, your first-ever game review is for…a football game?” Well, I thought this would be a fun experiment to give the perspective of a Blitz fan and not necessarily a football fan.
What You Need to Know
The NFL Blitz series has been known for being an over-the-top, arcade-style, American football game, and unlike many existing football sims, this simplified version of the sport makes this game really accessible and enjoyable for non-football fans. NFL Blitz is a 7-on-7 game with four two-minute quarters and zero fouls. Aside from the shortened gameplay, it’s the lack of fouls that make NFL Blitz worthwhile. The game features strong-arming and diving tackles that can send your opponent flying across the field with some awesome over-the-top animations.
On the offensive side, you quickly choose your play, many of which will be familiar to fans of the original games. From there, you’re able to throw, spin, jump, and strong-arm your way across the field. On the defensive side, you’re able to quickly switch players to push or tackle your opponent. I really appreciate these simplified controls because I think they help keep this game fast-paced and accessible. For first timers, the game offers a simplified tutorial that doesn’t interfere too much with your game. Luckily, this can be skipped with a single button if you’re already familiar with the controls.
Large Variety of Modes
I was pleased to find a surprising variety of single and multiplayer gameplay modes in NFL Blitz.
Blitz Gauntlet: A single-player, arcade-style, progression mode that’s very similar to the character ladder Mortal Kombat. When going through the ranks, you’ll be able to play against certain bosses like robots, zombies, ninjas, hot dogs, and big foots. These matches are also enhanced with on-field power-ups that can add some excitement to the game. After beating a fantasy character team, you’re then able to use that team in local and online modes.
Blitz Battles: A standard online mode with friendly and competitive matches, leaderboards, and the ability to create a team that you and a friend can use locally and online. It took me a few days before I was able to consistently find opponents online, but the online gameplay ran very smooth, even with voice chat enabled.
Elite League: An online mode where you can win games and earn Blitz Bucks to collect cards that allow customize your team as well as earn banners, unlockable cheats, and new stadiums.
Online Co-Op: A feature lacking in many games today is the ability to have two people play online from the same system. The Online Co-Op and Blitz Team modes offer this functionality.
Also returning from the original games is the pre-game codes you can add to turn on certain features, like your fantasy characters and big head mode. This is another nod to the original Midway series and it’s probably familiar to many Mortal Kombat fans, too.
Solid Frame Rate and Fitting Sounds
NFL Blitz runs at a solid 60fps, and the character models are well-animated. The sound effects fit the game well, especially the crunching tackling sounds. Music from the game includes a mixture of wobble-bass dubstep and heavy rock. Tim Kitzrow, who many Midway sports fans will recognize, returns to offer commentary alongside Brian Haley. Overall, I thought the commentary was fun, and I rarely heard any repeated lines, but I didn’t hear a lot of player or team-specific commentary. A lot of it felt pretty generic, and I noticed a couple of occasions where the play commentary didn’t match what the screen displayed.
Not as Crazy as You Might Have Hoped
While it doesn’t take away from the main gameplay of NFL Blitz, it’s worth mentioning that this version of NFL Blitz does not allow late, or post-play, hits on your opponent. Many fans of the original games, myself included, will certainly miss this feature, but it’s my understanding that the NFL chose to “keep it classy” and omit this unnecessary roughness. Knowing that, I have a hard time understanding why it’s permissible to have an opponent stand up and push you after being tackled. Is that sportsman-like? I would think that, if it’s acceptable enough to have these pushes make the game, a completely ridiculous and over-the-top leg drop would almost be comical and light-hearted, right?
EA Sports’ version of NFL Blitz is a great return to form for the classic Midway series. With a strong variety of single player and multiplayer modes, this downloadable title is a terrific package with plenty of replay value, especially if the online community builds up. While many might find the lack of late hits and toned-down gameplay inexcusable, I didn’t think this omission took away from the main game. I had way more fun with this game than any non-football fan should, and the simple controls and fast-paced gameplay make this game easy to pick for fans of football and NFL Blitz.