Arcade sports games have always had a special place in my heart. Whether I was smashing the glass in with Clinton in NBA Jam, or hurdling over players in NFL Blitz, the memories are etched into my gaming consciousness. EA has recently been reviving a lot of classic arcade sports games (not Mutant League Football, though), and it was only a matter of time before Blitz popped back up on the map. This downloadable reincarnation brings with it all that made the original special with plenty of today’s luxuries. Prepare to get beat down again, and love it, with EA’s NFL Blitz.
For those out of the loop, let me break down Blitz in a nutshell. You have 30-yard first down markers, hitting is celebrated and long bomb passes are the best way to move up the field. Games last two minutes, and everything runs at a blistering pace. Kickoffs and extra points are a given, while kicking a field goal is considered cowardly against an opponent. These are the fundamentals of Blitz, and even while the NFL has forced EA and its developers to tone it down a bit (things such as late hits are no longer allowed), the fundamental game has remained the same.
This is a game that is built around fun with friends and forgetting the rules. The addition of online play is great, allowing you to find opponents consistently without having them in the room. Surprisingly, though, one of my issues with the game extends into this area. Lag was common in several games, and things were never up to standards. I’m not sure if it was because the game wasn’t released yet or because the game has poor netcode, but it is worth mentioning. Once you do get into a game, though, there are a plethora of modes to toy around with.
You have the standard one-on-one mode that allows you to bash heads in a contest to see who scores last and wins the game. Lots of fun to be had there, but EA has gone the extra mile to include even more into the package. For everything you do online you earn Blitz Bucks, which you can use to purchase unlockables like teams, stadiums and, of course, cheat codes. You can also use them to unlock cards to be used in the Elite mode, which is very similar to Madden’s Ultimate Team Mode.
Elite mode starts you off with a generic pack of cards, but as you progress, you can earn more bucks to unlock packs and earn better players and power-ups. You can even trade with players online to collect better players and items. It is a nice change of pace and addition to an already packed game. You can also wager cards in games, making for an interesting mechanic to online play. You can easily sink some serious time into this mode, and collecting cards can become an addiction.
If online is not your cup of tea, the new Blitz Gauntlet mode is definitely worthy of your time. This is laid out like a fighting game tower that you slowly climb facing normal teams for 2-3 games followed up by a boss battle. These boss battles consist of outlandish characters such as zombies and ninjas, and to further sweeten the pot if you take them down, you unlock them for you to use within the game.
Blitz looks much like you would expect, with swollen player models and a lightning fast frame rate. Stadiums are decent, and the menus are easy to navigate. The game is definitely slick when it comes to presentation. The music is forgettable, but the return of Tim Kitzrow calling the action makes up for it entirely. Grunts and groans from players get repetitive after a while, but again, this is Blitz, it wasn’t meant to be taken too seriously.
In the end, NFL Blitz is much of what you would expect, with a plethora of extra features. The new online modes and Elite League really flesh out the experience online. Offline players will have a ball with couch action as well as the newly introduced Blitz Gauntlet mode. For the price at hand, this is a must have for Blitz fans and football fans alike. The sheer enjoyment is only hindered by a lack of customization options and, of course, the removal of some of the more violent content.
Review copy of the game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.