Jan 15, 2008
Publisher Electronic Arts has gotten pretty good at blowing up and then rebuilding sagging sports franchises. After all, they killed off the moribund Triple Play Baseball and started over with MVP, which in 2005 yielded the best baseball game ever made - at least in our humble opinions. Next to be thrown into the remake-o-tron was Knockout Kings, whose successor Fight Night reigns as the current heavyweight champion of the world. Needless to say, we had high hopes when we heard that the arcade fueled NFL Street football series was next on EA's makeover hit list. Street wasn't terrible by any stretch, but the franchise had clearly run out of new ideas and needed a kick in the pants.
Unfortunately, EA hasn't gone 3-for-3. NFL Tour is nothing more than a watered-down version of a game that wasn't tremendously fun in the first place, suffering from an identity crisis that ultimately removes any personality from the proceedings. Tour lacks sporty visuals, compelling gameplay, and any long-term replay value. Even worse, it piles on with godawful announcing and a dreadfully boring custom character feature, leaving us fighting off boredom as we slogged through the campaign.
At least Tour's controls are wonderfully simple and easy to learn - unlike Madden. Passing, juking, switching receivers and cranking the turbo are all one-button-press affairs, a quick study for just about anyone (and clearly by design). Of course, with this simplicity comes the sacrifice of a lot of the over-the-top gameplay options that were a hallmark of the Street series. Naturally, this will alienate longtime Street fans while simultaneously annoying hardcore Maddenites who may already be jonesing for next year's NFL iteration.
It won't take long into your Tour for the yawns to start and the eyes to droop, as its one-trick-pony nature yields its ugly head. Between the painfully generic stadiums, meager graphics, and dismal same-ness to each and every match, we defy you to fight through the 30-plus levels to close out your career. Unlike the best games of the sports arcade genre - namely The BIGS - there's no compelling reason to create or manage your character. Frankly, we'd rather play as the real NFL star that our personalized dude replaced.
NFL Tour isn't so much bad as it is unnecessary. There's not nearly enough meat on its bones to warrant a stand-alone game, even mercifully priced $20 less than most new next-gen releases. Frankly, it belongs as a mini-game in Madden. The younger set may find the simpler controls and uncomplicated gameplay to be welcoming, but any longtime football fanatics will likely dismiss Tour out of hand and go back to their beloved sim.