- You have to give EA credit for going out and grabbing the old Midway licenses and trying to revive the old NBA Jam and NFL Blitz franchises. With Madden and Backbreaker being the only two football titles released in the last 2 years, we're really in need of a bit more variety in the football gaming genre.
Does NFL Blitz provide enough of a change of pace? I guess that remains to be seen.
Be ready when you purchase the game, it is a rather large download, coming in at 1.8 GB. That definitely makes it one of the larger arcade games that I've seen in recent memory.
First off, the online component was completely empty last night. I'm sure that's due to the fact that the game does not release until 10:00 a.m. today, so that's not something that I can hold against them. What I do wonder, based on the configuration of the online, is how easy it will be to actually play online games.
The first thing that it asks you when you connect to the servers is to choose a state that you are in. Once, I did that, I never had the option to connect to any sort of lobby to match up against any other players. All of the online games seem to be done through automatic matchmaking.
Again, with no one available for the matchmaking, I'm not sure if that's the case or the fact that all of the online features are not configured yet.
If there are no lobbies and the only options that you have are to play against friends or against a random opponent that the server finds for you, that would be disappointing. Not being able to see an opponents record or gameplay status (whether their a late game quitter etc.) would be a real drag on the online component.
- Online aside, I spent a few hours last night with the Gauntlet mode, the single player mode for the game. The Gauntlet consists of a series of matchups against CPU teams, then a matchup against a "boss" team, then 3 more CPU's, another boss, another 3 CPU, then a "final" boss battle.
After playing through the first boss battle (a matchup against a team of Cowboy players, not the Dallas teams... 1800's Western guys,) I can see why they didn't implement any sort of season mode. The game, while fun (in spurts) against the CPU, just doesn't have any long term appeal. As you beat the bosses, you unlock new codes for the game that unlock the teams that you play against, but the experience just isn't as much fun as playing against a real person.
Within a few games, I was able to find formations that were very difficult for the CPU to stop on offense, and on the defensive side of the ball, putting quick pressure on the QB prevented the computer from gaining more than 5 to 10 yards on any given play on most occasions.
As the developers mentioned in our interview, the fact that you can no longer make late hits in the game is certainly noticeable, but it doesn't really detract from the game. It's just.... not there. You really want to be able to move your guys after they've knocked a guy to a ground... and you can't. I know that eventually that feeling will go away, but it won't stop me from continuing to hit a button after the whistle to try and give that offensive player another hit.
- Graphically, the game is very nice to look at. One of the cheat codes that I stumbled on (a single press of X, Y, and B at the code entry screen) unlocked the NFL Blitz team ball. On the ball it consisted of the signatures of all of the members of the team that took part in the making of the game. In an instant replay, I was able to zoom in and clearly see Mark Turmell's signature on the ball. That to me was a sign of the quality of the graphic fidelity on the field.
Player models are, seemingly, bulkier versions of the Madden gameplay models and they look as good as you would want them to for an arcade style of game like this.
- As far as the audio is concerned, Tim Kitzrow seems to have taken his typical enthusiasm down a notch. Maybe it's due to the fact that, comedian, Brian Haley is taking part in some of the commentary with him, but he just doesn't seem to have that "BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA" type punch to him this time around.
Again, not a bad thing... just different than you would have expected.
- Well, that was certainly a long winded first impression, but hopefully in the coming days, I'll be able to play the game against people on my Xbox friends list (Dan? Any other takers?) and we'll be able to see how well the co-op and other online modes will work.