When EA Sports revealed that NFL Blitz would be making its return to consoles a few weeks ago, we were unsure as to how much of what made the series so enjoyable would return. After finally getting around to sitting with the game, we found that it felt like classic Blitz, but at the same time, it gave off the impression of something different.
We quickly jumped into a match and began to see the similarities and differences. Players look like their real-life counterparts, and the way in which they move and react falls in line with previous games. Animations are somewhat over the top, but even with the removal of late hits (when tackles and in-air collisions occur), the animations look cool and players appear to be injured after taking that hit. There are a lot of cool moves that you'll be able to pull off, and when you manage to get your offense or defense "On Fire," your foes better be careful. Tim Kitzrow will also be lending his voice to NFL Blitz, so those who loved his brand of over-the-top commentary in NBA Jam will be in for quite a treat. Although our time with the game was limited, the audio was great. The only real gripe we had with the commentary was Kitzrow's referral to the Seattle Seahawks stadium as Qwest Field, which is a name that was changed back in the summer.
As you might expect, the action on the field has a lot of variety to it. On offense, you'll have two pages of play selections that range from quick, short-ranged passes to long bombs. While these long throw situations leave your quarterback vulnerable, if the pass connects, your opposition won’t be able to stop you from scoring. Defense isn't that in depth, but considering this is Blitz, chances are you're going to rush all you can and hope to snag a fumble or interception in the process. The playbooks appear to be the same for all teams, so the team you select and your own skill will determine your success. Thankfully, one of the game's online elite leagues will let you customize your teams to a greater degree, ensuring more balanced matches.
There isn't much to learn in regard to the controls. Each action has its own specific button: Triggers are used to sprint faster, one button is used for passing, and one button is used for jukes. It won't take someone long to adjust to the controls and begin scoring. There will different control setups for those who want to change things up, including the ability to shift to either a Blitz or Arcade control choice.
Our time with Blitz was brief. We didn't have the opportunity to experience firsthand any of the other meatier modes included in the game. We did, however, briefly catch a glimpse of others playing the Gauntlet mode, which has you play against real NFL teams and some Blitz-specific teams. This ladder-like mode seems pretty standard, and it should be fun to unlock the specialty teams for online use. NFL Blitz makes it triumphant return this January and will be available on both Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network.