NFL Blitz is still the ultimate pick up and play football game, without the bells and whistles of the Madden series.
The hours I spent playing NFL Blitz and Blitz 2000 back in the day are fond memories of mine. Going into this I wondered if a gameplay style from 12 years ago would still bring back all the fun. Turns out it’s like riding a bike, NFL Blitz is still the ultimate pick up and play football game, without the bells and whistles of the Madden series.
You’re greeted by the same old announcer from the old titles at the menu and you know you’ve come home. Jumping into Play Now I picked my old go-to: the Pittsburgh Steelers. On my first drive I scored a touchdown using my old 7th grade self’s unbeatable Da Bomb/ Turmoil / Hail Mary playbook. Defense was the same, running Suicide Blitzes just got get burned on it like I always did. The only thing lacking is after the play beat downs that used to amuse my younger self. This is everyone’s major complaint with the game, but after playing a few games, I see that the needless beatdowns weren’t adding anything to the gameplay besides a spectacle. They have been sacrificed to give you a more fluid and constant game rather than needless distractions. Hits and tackles are still just as brutal and over the top as they ever were, as I think I powerbombed someone out of bounds. The animations are great and they truly punctuate each play with bone-jarring fun.
The graphics are bright, with tons of neon colors everywhere you look on the playbook. Player models are pretty close to one another, as they all look like steroidal superheroes. A nice touch is that you can read the back of every player’s jersey. I especially liked when the teams run on the field. It shows them stampeding out of their locker room with a giant logo of their team dropping in behind them. There is also a subtle arcade track playing in the background that keeps the mood fun. When on offense your receiver flashes white, which allows the defense to see who you’re intending on throwing the ball to. Keep that receiver highlighted too long and your opponent will usually tackle that receiver before the ball is even thrown. This keeps every play frantic and fast paced, with you trying to outwit your opponent on every single play.
Blitz offers a bevy of gameplay modes, with Play Now, Blitz Gauntlet, Blitz Battles, and Elite League. Gauntlet is like a season mode, having you play through a bunch of teams and unlocking fantasy teams. Blitz battles has you playing online to unlock fantasy characters, while the Elite League has you build your own team to take online. Interestingly, you can bet players in this mode to give the games a more important feel. You can also co-own teams with your friends online, so you can take the coop element even further. Currently Chris and I are co-owners of the Erie Explosion; fear us with our 0-1 record. Coop play has you and a friend taking turns running the offense and defense while the other player takes the role of go-to receiver or safety. Only minor gripe was that you can’t change your offensive player when you are the receiver until after the ball is thrown. Besides that, co-op is a ton of fun. Make sure you have your mics on so you can better communicate. Chris and I were steam rolling with the Bills until his mic died.
I generally don’t play sports game often due to their barrier of entry and learning curve to be competitive. This throws a lot of those problems out the window and offers a truly accessible and fun experience. At the time of review, the leaderboards seem a bit broken, but they do seem very in depth with you being able to compete against people in your state to see who has the best team. Hopefully these get fixed up soon. If you played these games years ago it welcomes you back with open arms. I highly suggest this title for any fans of the series or if you want something a bit more accessible compared to the Madden franchise.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
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