NFL Blitz review

  • Solid, smooth gameplay
  • Addictive Elite League
  • Teams of Hot Dogs
  • No late hits!
  • Outdated rosters
  • No internet - No luck

We all have the memories. Maybe it was that time in the arcade you made an interception, knocked three guys over, and got knocked silly into the end zone as time expired to win a game. Perhaps it was that time playing Nintendo against your buddy when he jump-threw an impossibly timed pass to a triple-covered receiver that somehow made the grab for a touchdown. Whatever your memories, NFL Blitz is inextricably part of the gaming lexicon, familiar to almost anyone who’s played mainstream games in the last fifteen years.

And now, it’s back, having been rescued from the now-defunct Midway Games by EA Sports. We live in a different world now: the NFL protects its brand fiercely, and with the recent scrutiny and lawsuits the league is facing, it’s no surprise the development team was forced to make changes to the core presentation. Gone are the ferocious late hits and most egregious over-the-top violence that were the hallmark of the franchise; what remains is so solid, simple, and fun, it’d be a mistake to dismiss it out of hand. After all, there are still men on fire and the voice of Tim Kitzrow. All is not lost. 

Most importantly, if you’ve ever played NFL Blitz you’ll feel right at home. It only took us a few warmup quarters to rediscover our mojo, and within a couple of games we were completing impossible passes, laying out defenseless receivers, and throwing quarterbacks head over heels off the field. The trademark Blitz gameplay is smooth and solid, featuring 30 yards for first downs, no penalties (including pass interference), and lightning-fast action. 

You definitely need to be quick on the draw to succeed on both sides of the ball. Quarterbacks tend to have long releases to pass (and there are no running plays) so whenever a blitzer is nearby there’s trouble afoot. Sacks are plentiful, but we have to believe that’s a balancing effect. If it weren’t easy to get sacks, virtually every drive would wind up with a touchdown. After all, throwing into double coverage is nowhere near as dangerous as it is in Madden. Blitz, in many ways, is the anti-Madden. And we mean that in a good way.

The default directional passing can be a little tough. Old-school players will instantly recognize it, but if you’re new to the series and have grown up playing football games that only have button-based passing, it can be a bit of a challenge to always hit the right receiver. Luckily, there is an option to use assigned buttons to pass to specific guys.

So the gameplay is solid – that’s to be expected. Honestly, though, Blitz would get old quickly if all it offered was a season mode and online play. What’s most intriguing – and potentially addicting – this season is the inclusion of the Elite League mode. It’s based on the immensely successful Ultimate Team popularized in FIFA and Madden, involving the creation of a custom team, purchasing player cards to upgrade it, and taking it out on the field online against other like-minded players. The best part of Ultimate Team is that the entire experience is free (unlike the other titles); all you need to do to earn the in-game currency to buy new players is to play games. 

The cynic in us would suggest that Elite League is an insidious plot by EA to get us to realize how cool the expensive Ultimate Team is; whether or not it’s a vast gridiron conspiracy, there’s no denying it’s a blast. You collect players, switch them in and out of the lineup, compete against rivals, and get more Blitz Bucks to get more guys. After a few games, you can trade up for seriously handy elite players, powerups, and eventually create a super-team capable of destroying the universe. Even better, it offers a huge reason to keep playing the game long after you’ve destroyed your friends and fought through the single-player Gauntlet mode (a quasi-season ladder featuring real teams and “Boss” squads populated by teams of pirates and hot dogs – no, we did not make that last part up). 

The starting rosters are a bit outdated, and there are a couple of eyebrow-raising player attributes, such as lefties Mike Vick and Tim Tebow being right-handed. On the other hand, if you’re playing any mode other than straight-up online play, you’re able to remake your team as you see fit. For example, we started off with the Eagles in Gauntlet mode and quickly brought back safety Brian Dawkins. While we were at it, we added hard-hitting James Harrison. Blitz lets you do this to your heart’s content, and it goes a long way to making the roster issues easier to take. 

It’s no small task re-creating a beloved gaming franchise while being limited by external forces. That the development team at Tiburon managed to put together an NFL Blitz that’s a blast to play and features interesting new things to do is no small feat. Releasing it as a download-only title for $15 is brilliant as well, as there’s more than enough content to justify a purchase. While we all may long for the “good old days” of late hits and personal fouls, we’d rather have this Blitz than none at all. It’s good to be back with an old friend, even if he’s not quite as wild and crazy as he was back in the day.

More Info

Available Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, N64, PS1, Game Boy, PC
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Tiburon
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Comic Mischief, Mild Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Language

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  • ThatGuyFromTV - January 8, 2012 6:10 p.m.

    I've played the demo of this game and am planning to pick it up the second I get the chance (it costs 1200 points - i have 1180), but I have to say, 8 is the perfect score for this for a first impression. All the basics are there, perfectly intact from the golden days of Blitz, but they were a bit lazy with the feel. I don't think it's cause of the exclusion of late hits either, as there are other ways to get in the face of everyone after a play. I think it's cause they want a tad bit too realistic on the scenery, but honestly I don't know for sure what that missing feeling is. But whatever, Blitz is back in almost the best way, and I will sure as hell take that over some half-assed modernized garbage. LONG LIVE THE BLITZ!!
  • amythompson172 - January 8, 2012 5:30 p.m.

    This game is not for the meek, or children. It's for mature people that want to have alot of fun; five stars fun. The graphics are very good, the gameplay is easy to catch on to, and the pace of the game is good. So, if you want a game that is fun, and easy to play, and entertains, this is the game for you. Madden is a good game, but I have more fun with Blitz, see you on the gridiron.
  • Vordhosbn - January 7, 2012 1:57 a.m.

    Teams of hot-dogs you say? I'm in.
  • larkan - January 6, 2012 6:24 p.m.

    So....according to the NFL, late hits and violence are bad, so they get rid of them. But somehow, all the players can still be "on fire?" What a bunch of tards, I'll pass based on their lack of common sense.
  • Headstandz - January 6, 2012 5:14 p.m.

    I prefered the 2002 xbox game much more. This game is just another football game without late hits. It felt SO good to take your anger out on a guy celebrating a touchdown. It isn't bad but isn't as good as the originals. On the plus side they made the Bills way better than they actually are. Must of done stats in the beginning of the season or something. GO BILLS! lol.
  • FlyinHawaiian13 - January 6, 2012 5:28 p.m.

    Dude have you played the original? Sure the late hits were awesome, but the gameplay was amazing. Also the xbox version was just another simulation. This is arcade football nirvana
  • Headstandz - January 6, 2012 5:42 p.m.

    The original games I think were better than this. I love having the newer roster and not Drew Bledso on the Bills but the overall game play was a lot better. This game didn't really feel as over the top to me. Just throw and get tackled. It might be I just suck though lol. One thing I HATEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE about this game though is that the QB passes it RIGHT when you blitz. You have no chance to get a sack unless you get lucky
  • ThatGuyFromTV - January 8, 2012 6:14 p.m.

    You mean with the CPUs? Yeah, I got that blitz problem too. I can force em to botch the pass but i can never get a sack. And yeah, I feel something, or a lack of something with the over the top thing too, and I can't for the life of me figure out what it is. I'm gonna watch some videos of both the old and new blitzes and see if I can figure it out.