Although the latest Madden seems to have practically every part of the football scene sewn up, there’s a whacking great NFL Street-sized hole in the market that the weedy NFL Tour failed to fill. Huge scores, special moves, simplified rules and wacky characters. Hello, it’s Blitz: The League! You can trace the lineage of this sequel all the way back to NFL Blitz, an arcade title that let fans design plays on the N64 version and upload them to the coin-op via a memory card. On current-gen platforms the spirit of innovation remains, although the precious NFL license is no more. Away from the gaze of the NFL lawyers, Blitz’s selling point is now the ability to cause bone-splintering injuries and watch them in high-def slow-mo.
When you target a particular part of an opponent’s body (or, more likely in the early stages of the game, you get targeted yourself) there’s a high chance of the player breaking something painful. When it happens, you get a pre-rendered cutscene, looking a bit like an MRI scan, showing the affected area getting compressed, twisted and shattering, complete with meaty fragments of bone and bits of marrow. Bloody horrible, it is.
The victim then rolls around on the floor while you play a minigame to try and reset any dislocated parts. You can also patch up troublesome compressed skull fractures with an injection of ‘juice’ – even the goriest injuries only keep players on the sidelines for a few minutes. Sadly, the rest of the game doesn’t hit quite as hard as the brutal injuries do. It’s a lot like NFL Street, with two levels of special moves that can be charged up and unleashed for a guaranteed score, and it requires 30 yards per first down, which should give you some idea of the size of the average play. It’s just nowhere near as immediate as it should be, and the frequent slow-mo specials detract from the flow of the game.
Presentation-wise it’s pretty good, featuring some nice cutaways to a furious stadium announcer between plays, and a mildly amusing Story mode about the no-holds-barred future version sports league where the whole thing takes place. But we have to say we didn’t get much satisfaction from its clingfilm-wrapped visuals, ‘quicktime event’ controls and the acres of space on the field that permit a score on almost every possession. Not bad, then, but still no NFL Street.
Oct 15, 2008