The NFL Blitz series has always been one that has been known for its great arcade style football action - no rules, no refs - playing the game the way it was meant to be played. Well Midway has decided to start leaning away from that trend, and place more emphasis towards a mix of both simulation and the old style arcade gameplay. Does this conversion work, or should Midway just go back to the original style?
Before I even sat down to play NFL Blitz Pro I was pretty worried about how the new integration of the simulation style was going to measure up on the Blitz title. There are a lot of things that Blitz has done well in the past, and I wasn’t sure they really needed the change. Even if they wanted to change it, maybe a more subtle transition would be better. With that said, NFL Blitz Pro does quite a few things different from the old style, some I like, and others I wish they wouldn’t have done.
The first noticeable change in the game was the fact that now you use a full eleven men on the field at once. This is different from before, and really does add a lot more simulation to the game. Also most of us know that in Blitz first downs used to be thirty yards, but now are the regular ten.
The biggest change for NFL Blitz is the computer AI, which some will love and others will hate, and I am still leaning in both directions. The old style gameplay allowed you really to make the most obscene catches and interceptions in the game, and now you really have to do things the right way. Personally I find that this being an arcade style game there should be less thinking and more playing. One of the harder things to do now in Blitz is run the ball, which has become a little realistic, and makes it quite hard to establish a good running game. If you’re going to make the computer AI more intelligent and challenging, then make their play calling more accurate and realistic. Never have I seen such fourth down attempts in a football game, and some stupid play calling on those fourth downs as well.
It shows that Midway is trying to make Blitz more of a simulation type game and also more friendly to just the single player. The addition of the franchise mode was a nice thought/idea, but unfortunately they put out a pretty bare mode with not much more then just the seasons themselves. You are or course allowed to trade, pick up free agents, and create a player, but it’s not the same feeling that you get when you play in other football titles.
One of the more welcome modes introduced in Blitz Pro is the addition of online play. Being that Blitz is a more multiplayer friendly game, the addition of online was really a given. The mode isn’t overly great, it could use some help, and the online play itself has quite a bit of lag and therefore can be kind of tough at times to play online. When you do get a good game going online it can be pretty fun, so for the most part this mode is pretty hit and miss.
Not everything has been changed in Blitz; most of the basics are still in place in the game. You will find that the hard hitting, tackles after play, and unrealistic tacking abilities are all still in place and bring back great memories from the old game, but there is one thing that really bothers me. Being now that Midway wants to combine the simulation aspects of football into their arcade game, this brings up one problem, and that is that I now want more from the game. I would love to have more depth into the game’s franchise mode. I think with the addition of all the simulation type features you start to expect more out of the game and it doesn’t really come through with much of the depth.
Graphically the NFL Blitz series has always been a pretty distinct looking title that really has looked pretty good. Lately on the next generation consoles though the graphics haven’t been as good as they could and left plenty of room for improvement for NFL Blitz Pro.
When we talk about NFL Blitz Pro you get some good and some bad, which evens out pretty easily to a pretty average looking title. The character models of NFL Blitz are quite similar to what they have looked like in the past few years, and that is basically pretty bulky and plain character models. There isn’t much detail put towards the characters and they all look pretty generic following the normal path of the Blitz titles. The positive side to NFL Blitz Pro has to be the over the top animations that really look great. Everything in Blitz moves very smoothly and really moves at a very nice pace.
Overall there isn’t much great to say about the game’s graphics, they are pretty average graphics and go along the same line as the other Blitz titles have been on. It would have been nice to have seen more detail more placed towards the character models, but the game doesn’t look all that bad.
NFL Blitz Pro is one of those games that is really fun, and that is what really the whole Blitz is all about. The fun factor did go down a ways from last year because of the simulation addition. The games pace has been slowed down a notch which does take a way from the true arcade feeling that you felt in years past. With that being said playing NFL Blitz Pro is still a lot of fun to play with friends and also online, and if you had fun with the old titles you will still find fun in this one.
NFL Blitz Pro shows the road that it looks like Midway is going to take for the next few years, and you can see potential written all over it, but this years just isn’t all there. Unless you’re a big fan of the series it’s probably a good idea to wait until next year and stick with what you have.
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