Though the game was first shown publicly back at E3, Midway's new football game, NFL Blitz Pro, already looks much further along than it was the last time we saw it. The game now runs at a much faster pace that is more in line with the previous Blitz games. Little touches like commentary and some of the additional game modes are also coming into focus.
The largest change to this year's Blitz is that it will more closely mimic the rules of real football. This means that you'll have a full 11-man team on each side of the ball, as well as the ability to control extra point kicks. The game also adheres to the standard 10 yards for a first down, as opposed to the 30 found in previous games. Also gone from this year's game is the ability to point the joystick at a player and hit one single pass button to throw the ball--icon passing is all that remains. The game's AI has also been redone to bring it in line with the more realistic aspects of the professional game. The game's fire rules have also been changed. Individual players now catch on fire depending on their performance. For example, if you complete five passes in a row, your quarterback will catch on fire. Fire lasts only three plays, so you'll have to work fast to capitalize on the fire bonus. The game's playbooks are also a lot more realistic this year. Now, like in sim-styled football games, you'll pick a formation first and a play second. The game contains more than 200 offensive plays and more than 100 defensive plays, but you won't have the ability to create plays this year.
The game's online tournament mode will work in two-week cycles. You'll start in the bottom tournament rung, and every two weeks, your tournament bracket will be adjusted up or down, depending on how well you did during the last cycle. The game will also feature a full-fledged franchise mode that allows up to 10 players to play up to 30 seasons.
During play, you'll earn points that can be spent in the new Blitz shop. Here you'll open up fantasy teams and stadiums, as well as new gameplay modes. Buttafingerz mode makes every tackle cause a fumble. The ball also bounces back in-bounds when it hits the sidelines, so every play will have to end in a touchdown. Cyberleague mode recalls the classic Atari arcade game Cyberball. Here the players are replaced by robots, and the ball becomes a bomb, so if plays go on too long, the ball will explode. There will also be a classic Blitz mode, and it sounds like the developers are trying to put the point-and-shoot passing of the original Blitz back in, but the game will remain an 11-on-11 affair.
At its core, the game still plays like the same NFL Blitz game that Midway has been releasing for years. But the changes to make the game "go pro" are definitely major ones, and Midway will be walking a very thin line as it tries to appeal to fans of standard football games without alienating Blitz's hard-core fanbase. Will the team succeed? We'll find out this September.