In theory, NFL Blitz 2000 carries on the fine tradition of no-holds-barred football set by the original NFL Blitz. It keeps the same frantic gameplay that made the original a hit, yet it has new features and substantial improvements. However, it has a few major problems that make it all but unplayable.
The NFL Blitz series is another in Midway's long line of arcade sports games such as NBA Jam. Like NBA Jam, rules and regulations are tossed aside in Blitz, and more than a few liberties are taken with the standard NFL rules. Instead of the standard ten-yard fights, you'll have to gain 30 yards to get a first down. There are significantly fewer players on the field. And forget about penalties - pass interference is now the defense's main weapon. But despite all these action-oriented changes, Blitz is truly a game of strategy. All the different plays are meaningful, and knowing how to run each one in as many different ways as possible is key to continued success.
As far as additions go, Blitz 2000 has a lot going for it. For starters, it's a four-player game, which would be a lot better if you didn't have to huddle four people around one machine, two with controllers and two with keyboard controls. The play editor that first appeared in the arcade version of Blitz '99 has been pumped up in the PC version and now lets you design defensive formations. Also exclusive to the PC version of Blitz 2000 is the ability to practice your plays from the playbook editing screen. You can run them up against any other normal play in the game or run them on an empty field to simply study receiver patterns. Season mode lets you play or simulate an entire season of games, using slightly more realistic stats and team-specific playbooks to further differentiate the various NFL teams. Finally, you can configure your own tournaments, using up to eight teams. It's understandable that the game lacks online play - after all, there's a lot going on quickly in Blitz 2000, more than most connections could handle - but it's silly that the game doesn't have a LAN option.
Still shots of this game running in its highest resolution look fantastic, even better than the arcade version. But in motion, it's a completely different story. Blitz 2000 has very low system requirements printed on its box - a P2-233 if you've got a 3D accelerator, and even lower if that card happens to be a 3dfx card, which makes sense considering the original arcade machine ran on a 3dfx chipset. But getting the game to run at full speed without dropping frames on a P3-500 with TNT2 Ultra test system was next to impossible. There's an option in the poorly designed menu system (would it have been that hard to let me use the mouse instead of a gamepad?) that turns frame skipping on and off, but it's a lesser of two evils-style decision. Do you want the animation to run smoothly, but constantly change speed depending on how many players are onscreen? Or would you rather have the game always run a little too fast and have it drop tons of frames? It's a question with no correct answer - either option totally throws Blitz 2000's timing way off and ruins what could have been an outstanding game. The game's sound is pretty good at least and contains lots of little taunts and announcer commentary. There's a 3D sound option in the menu, but it just lets you pick from a list of different 3D sound styles, like parking lot, cave, and living room.
The original arcade machine used a 49-way joystick for control. All of the console versions of Blitz were analog-compatible, which emulated the 49-way stick pretty well after you took the time to get used to the touchy control. The recommended controller for NFL Blitz 2000 is a Sidewinder gamepad, which leaves only eight choices for direction. The game does include some analog support, but it still doesn't have the range of the original, so you're better off just sticking with a digital pad. Defensive holes that you'd be able to squeeze through on any other controller are suddenly impossible to traverse. Wiggling down the field in an attempt to throw off defenders is a thing of the past. While players who are new to the world of Blitz won't notice the control deficiency, fans of the series and its usually outstanding control will be extremely disappointed. On the plus side, a one-button passing feature has been introduced, which lets you target your receivers quickly and easily. The old point-and-shoot system is still in place, but when confined to the game's substandard control, it isn't nearly as easy as it used to be.
NFL Blitz 2000 could have been a pretty good game if it had better Direct3D performance. But as it sits right now, the game is barely playable. Fans of the original NFL Blitz would be better off heading out to the arcade, or even picking up a console version.