What was Electronic Arts thinking? We’re deep into basketball and hockey season, so it seems like a weird time to be releasing a football game like NFL Blitz.
EA for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network; Rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older.
Replay Value: 8.3
Overall Score: 8.3
Pros: Over-the-top gaming, strong online mode, players catch fire.
Cons: Graphics are on the weak side, needs bigger playbook, “hard mode” isn’t difficult enough.
But football isn’t quite over: The Super Bowl is right around the corner.
So the time might be right for this truly over-the-top arcade game.
NFL Blitz is a cartoon-ish, downloadable tidbit featuring crushing hits on defense and amazing 50-yard throws. Add the sometimes-hilarious comments from the color guys in the booth and strong online play. The result is a game that’s really hard to put down.
If Madden is the lengthy mega-meal for fans of sports videogames, NFL Blitz is the quick dessert. You don’t have many plays to choose from, just 9 on defense and 17 on offense. There’s no create-a-player. There’s no draft. There are only 7 players on each side of field.
WHAT YOU GET
But what you get (as you do with NBA Jam) are wacky players that get so hot when you’re on a roll, they give off flames. You’ll play the Blitz Gauntlet, a ladder of teams, over and over until you play all NFL clubs. And you’ll encounter some surprises. These include some fantasy squads – bosses like gladiators, peg-leg pirates and smiling hot dogs in a bun.
I find that playing on Hard Mode is the best way to go after getting your feet wet on Easy Mode. Otherwise, there’s very little challenge. After you defeat the fantasy teams mentioned above, you can play as them, too. Just key in their special codes at the beginning of each game.
On offense, winning is often about looking down the field to find an open player and pressing buttons to throw the ball at the right time. But there is some wiggle room as far as creativity during plays goes. On offense, you can leap high over the pack or spin like a dervish. You can even give the tackler the stiff arm. With a satisfying “ding,” down he goes. His bell has been rung!
The comedic announcers are also essential to the kooky mayhem. Sometimes they wish they were more famous so they could be in a bigger game like Madden. Sometimes they say silly things like “in the end zone like a mobile phone!” They seem to like corn dogs a lot, too. And they get as excited as fans. You never see them, but you imagine they’re shaking with glee as they call the action on the field.
ONLINE WITH BLITZ BUCKS
The makers of NFL Blitz really want you to play online, so they’re offering Blitz Bucks to entice you. Win online and you’re rewarded with fake money that helps you get cool things like Big Head Mode when you play. Plus, you get Blitz Bucks if you’re the player who presses the taunt buttons the most.
Blitz Bucks are also essential for creating your Blitz Elite League. These card packs full of players require strategizing if you want a balanced team. Or you might choose to buy some powerups like an Earthquake, which shakes the field, possibly causing a fumble.
I’ve rarely had as much quick fun online with a sports game than I’ve had with NFL Blitz. While there’s the occasional lag during plays, I quickly was matched up with three other people to play in co-op mode, two for each team. Whoever my partner was, he knew the game as well as I did.
Yet the real key is on defense. Take control of a player and constantly try to sack the opposing quarterback. The same goes for blocking a punt or a field goal. That’s the way to winning online – and offline, too. Also, you can try to time your interceptions. The game makers say that if you’re near the ball and press the top controller button at either one-third, one-half or two-thirds of a second after a pass, your defenseman will catch the quarterback’s throw. That’s hard to time, so just try for an interception without thinking too hard about it.
THE BAD AND THE GOOD
There are things that I don’t like, however. Every player seems to have the same physical attributes, so they look nothing like the real-life players. So quarterback Eli Manning looks just as muscular as defenseman Justin Tuck. And while they often throw tantrums, when you check out their faces, there’s no emotion whatsoever.
Still, the old NFL Blitz used to sell for around $40 when you bought it in the store. The downloadable version is about $15. It’s completely worth the price of admission for access to one of the more clownish, cartoon-ish, generally super-fun games out there today.