The Super Bowl is right around the corner, football is on the forefront of many people’s minds and that seems like a perfect time for EA to release another football game. However for those of hoping of a Madden 08 1.5 sort of release, this is not it. This is EA’s try and revamping their arcade football game in NFL Tour a game that hopes to succeed in ways that NFL Blitz did many years ago. Does NFL Tour for the Xbox 360 have what it takes to become the next big arcade football game? Read our full review to find out.
So there is not doubt that EA has had a good deal of success with many of their "Street" label titles, but like EA normally does, they don’t necessarily want to stay stagnant and do there best to revamp titles throughout there life-cycle. This not only helps to sustain interest but it also helps when making bigger changes with a title. So now that we no longer have NFL Street but instead NFL Tour, are the differences substantial enough to make the transition worthwhile.
So let’s just jump right into the gameplay of NFL Tour and talk about what has changed and what hasn’t. Starting with what hasn’t, NFL Tour is still an arcade game of football that plays very similar to what we saw in the NFL Street titles. You’re still going to be able to pull off incredible moves, break huge tackles, and do all sorts of crazy stuff on the gridiron. However the biggest part of what has changed in this game is that things have been simplified quite a bit. The controls now have the option of being really just hike pass, or hike run and leaving the rest up to the crazy arcade gameplay.
What this does is really over simplify everything on the field, and so if you’re an avid fan of the game and want a deep arcade experience this already may sound problematic. The option for the simplified control is there, but you can always pick the standard control scheme as well, which will be familiar to anyone who has picked up a football game in the last decade. However even with the standard control scheme, the action on the field is rather simplistic and in someways feels a bit behind where the NFL Street franchise was. For example, the elimination of game breakers was a bit of a surprise and I felt that this to some extent lessened the depth of the experience.
In terms of modes, everything is pretty standard here as well. You have the new Tour mode, which is a career mode where you create a character and try to bring him through the NFL. You get to pick an attribute for your character and then take him through the competition. The mode is pretty standard with not a lot of surprises packed in. There are some other mini-games and modes that are good additions, but really not worth mentioning because they are short lived experiences. There is online play which for me was where the game shined the brightest. Lag was not an issue, neither was finding a game, and playing online definitely helped eliminate a lot of the AI issues encountered offline in single player.
Overall NFL Tour is still a pretty big letdown in the sense of how great of a game it could have been. The ground work leads you to believe that the game is set in the right direction, but in terms of this first installment all the pieces are just not aligned. The mechanics for NFL Tour have some issues, there isn’t always a lot of rhyme or reason for why the AI does what they do. Even on the higher difficult levels the intelligence of the opposing side doesn’t seem to have their ducks in a row, so to speak.
This is the first arcade football title that EA has put out on the next generation consoles, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into the game in terms of visuals. However for this being two years into the life cycle of the Xbox 360, I have to say I was expecting more. The character models are extremely bland and the animation seems a bit limited. The real standout for the game is the stadiums, which have a lot of detail and variety. But overall for being this far into the 360 life-cycle, I have to say I was expecting more HD goodness.
This is arcade football so there is no doubt that fun can be had in this game, that’s not the problem. The problem is that we have come to expect more out of an arcade football game than what was presented in this title. The online play was by far the most fun I had with the game, the AI is much less of an issue their and the competition seems pretty strong. Overall however I was still disappointed with the lack of originality and the feeling like the series took a step backward with this installment.
Although EA has had some great success with NFL Street, the new NFL Tour just didn’t stand up as well. You would hope the time to work on a next gen version of the game would have helped more, but overall this is a pretty mediocre arcade football game.
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