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Critical Reception: EA Tiburon's NFL Blitz

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to EA's downloadable franchise reboot NFL Blitz, which reviewers describe as "a digestible version of football that even the biggest sports cynic can enjoy."

Danny Cowan, Blogger

January 11, 2012

5 Min Read

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to EA's downloadable franchise reboot NFL Blitz, which reviewers describe as "a digestible version of football that even the biggest sports cynic can enjoy." NFL Blitz currently earns a score of 80 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. Joystiq's David Hinkle gives NFL Blitz 4.5 out of 5 stars. "Often times when we revisit an older game we've always cherished, we find it just doesn't hold up," he admits. "NFL Blitz is EA's successful attempt to prove that the classic arcade football experience originally created by Midway is as fun today as it was back in 1997." "NFL Blitz stands firm in its commitment to yesteryear, changing practically nothing from the arcade original's gameplay," Hinkle notes. "The general rules of football apply: sometimes you run with the ball; sometimes you pass the ball; bringing the ball into the end zone gets you points. First downs are every 30 yards as opposed to every 10, and the game is primarily played with only three buttons." Additional features help to flesh out the package. "There's a ladder-type Gauntlet mode that pits players against NFL and fantasy teams, the latter of which are unlocked when defeated," Hinkle describes. "There's also a collectible card meta game at work, in which you can construct your own uber-team from top players around the league, wager them on matches and manage their contracts." "Thankfully, NFL Blitz is built upon a solid foundation, one that has held up surprisingly well over the years," Hinkle praises. "Even if the idea of vehemently tossing around oblong objects sickens you, give NFL Blitz a whirl. It's a digestible version of football that even the biggest sports cynic can enjoy." Dan Ryckert at Game Informer scores NFL Blitz at 8 out of 10. "Even though I had only casual interest in the NFL, Blitz became one of my favorite games of that time period," he begins. "EA has resurrected the arcade football experience 15 years after it first invaded arcades. Thankfully, this resurrection (mostly) delivers the same brand of over-the-top, cartoonish charm as the original." The NFL's strict regulations strip out some of the fun, however. "If you ask any gamer what their memory of NFL Blitz is, it’s a safe bet that many would recall the chaotic late hits and player pile-ups at the end of each play," Ryckert notes. "Living up to their stingy reputation, the NFL has vetoed any kind of late hits in the new Blitz. "For fans of the original games, it feels like something substantial is missing every single time a play ends. It’s comparable to when fatalities were toned down in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. The core gameplay was still solid, but the absence of a significant series trademark negatively impacted the experience." Ryckert continues: "The rest of the gameplay is pure Blitz. Everything feels almost identical to the original, from the intentionally limited playbooks (featuring classic plays like Da Bomb and Sub Zero) to the rubber band A.I. that makes most games come down to the wire." "Even with the omission of late hits, NFL Blitz is an old-school arcade experience that hasn’t lost the fun factor it had a decade-and-a-half ago," Ryckert writes. "As a casual football fan who hasn’t seen more than three regular season NFL games this year, it still managed to win me over with its fast-paced action. " 1UP's Marty Silva awards NFL Blitz a B grade. "This downloadable title features the same frantic action that fans of the franchise have loved for the past decade," he says. "Minutia aside, fans of the original home or arcade versions of NFL Blitz will be pleased to know that this current outing does the series justice." New gameplay modes add significantly to the classic formula. "The Blitz Gauntlet charges you with climbing a ladder of opponents similar to how you would in a classic Mortal Kombat title," Silva describes. "Every few victories against NFL teams rewards you with a Boss Fight: four quarters against a squad comprised of hot dogs, Neanderthals, and other assorted macho warriors. These specific matches take a page from NBA Jam by adorning the field with various power-ups, making the games even more frantic." "If you decide to go online, you'll find an incredibly robust infrastructure -- especially for a downloadable title," Silva adds. "The Elite League allows you to create a team via a starter pack of cards. Winning games rewards you with more packs of cards containing extra players, skills, and power-ups that can be used to create the ultimate roster." Single-player games are less fun, however. "While the online component is great, a game like this isn't meant to be played by yourself -- a point proven by A.I. that seems to have no idea of the time remaining on the clock or the yardage needed for a first down," Silva notes. "That being said, Blitz blossoms when you go up against a human opponent -- whether online or next to you on the couch." "NFL Blitz has solidified itself as the current king of the 'over the top sports' genre," Silva concludes. "This package boasts an impressive amount of features for a downloadable title, and provides a slew of nostalgic fun when paired with an eager partner. Blitz is a worthy throwback to the simpler days when you could tackle a man-sized hot dog with reckless abandon."

About the Author(s)

Danny Cowan


Danny Cowan is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for Gamasutra and its subsites. Previously, he has written reviews and feature articles for gaming publications including 1UP.com, GamePro, and Hardcore Gamer Magazine.

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