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NFL Blitz 2000 (PC) Review

Publisher: Midway
Release Date: Fall 1999

Background Info

Before diving headlong into the bone-crunching tackles, grunts and snarls that make up NFL Blitz 2000, first some words of advice. For those simheads out there who are interested only in accuracy and realism, stop reading this now and fire up Madden 2000 while sneering at those heathens who dare waste their time playing a goofball seven-on-seven representation of the NFL game we hold so dear to our hearts.

Okay, so now that we have those grumpy football scrooges off our backs, let's talk about just how cool this game is!

While NFL Blitz 2000 wins no awards for realism or even perhaps good taste, this Midway near-classic is still a heckuva lot of fun to play. The accelerated arcade speed does wonders for this game, as do the sharp graphics, enticing gameplay and friendly interface. This is a game that keeps you coming back for more, despite that bizarre five-fumble, 500-passing-yard, ZERO-rushing performance in your last game.

NFL Blitz proudly trumpets, "No Rules, No Refs, No Mercy." And that's just what makes this game a fun one to play, time and time again.

Presentation/Graphics : 96
In true arcade fashion, NFL Blitz offers clean and crisp, albeit not exactly realistic, action on the playing field. No question, where this game really shines is in the smooth representation of the action on that very gridiron. As an arcade game, you would expect the frame rate to be accelerated and smooth, and that's exactly what you get with NFL Blitz 2000. While the plays themselves aren't exactly the most realistic out there in the football gaming pool, they do play out exceptionally well.

Tackles are fairly well done, with some absolutely bone-crushing displays to be had. Players get leveled out there, with helmets flying off and spinning takedowns to boot. And while the arcade style of the game is one to be taken lightly, you might get a wee bit tired of the WWF-influenced body slams that take place in this game. Then again, when you're suddenly losing to the Eagles after having built a 24-point lead, it can be somewhat stress-relieving to take a showboating Duce Staley down after the whistle. And, what? No flags? Better yet!

The assortment of player moves, ranging from high-hurdling to stiff-arming, also deserves praise here. Again, the frame rate really allows this game to shine, with attention to detail at the forefront. When you stiff-arm the opposition, you will no doubt be pleased with the results.

Stadium representations are not of any real-life football stadiums, but the stadiums you do get in Blitz look very sharp. You can get anything from Old Snow Stadium to Sky Day Stadium and everything in between. While Old Day Stadium looks like a classic NFL venue, Future Day Stadium is its futuristic opposite. A pat on the back of ol' Midway is deserved for its depiction of field conditions. It's somewhat pleasing to see that you can decipher between grass surfaces and those ankle-twisting artificial ones, while snowy days are almost overwhelmingly so, with fog added to the mix.

Presentation/Audio : 93
In keeping with a no-holds-barred attitude, Blitz brings the action to life with a rather animated announcer who, while not talking all that much, manages to pop off some appropriate remarks.

"That was uncalled for," moans the announcer bearing witness to a post-play body-slam, before piping up, "But a lot of fun to watch." And if you manage to throw an errant pass to a wide-open receiver, your QB is treated to a blunt, "That sucked!" or "I don't think he knew what play he called."

Problem here is that the remarks get tired really fast. Just like with other games, too many of the same comments grow stale in a matter of just a few games, but thankfully a lot of those comments can be disabled if you can simply hold yourself back from the dirty after-play fisticuffs.

Crowd field-action noise are both done well, with a steady enthusiasm serving as backdrop to your fair share of tooth-removing tackles and player grunts, moans, and even cries of pure fear.

Interface/Options : 95
Even between games, you'll marvel at the arcade-style presentation so much that you'll simply be hard-pressed to restrain yourself from pumping quarters into your CD-ROM drive. The simple, large-button menus are a breeze to navigate as you shuffle between the various offerings, from Playbook Editor to Season and Arcade modes.

The Playbook Editor can be especially enjoyable, thanks to a simple interface that allows you to script out receiver patterns down to the very last juke. Meanwhile, the Season mode is a delight in the sense that it's so simple. With no stat-tracking, which would be completely nonsensical, in this game, you instead simply play game by game and follow your team's progress in the standings. If so skilled, once you reach the playoffs the game remains simple in its presentation, electing to step you through the process without much fanfare.

In the midst of the games themselves, the controls are straightforward, save for some awkward passing options. Aimed at simplifying the passing technique, Blitz fumbled with its attempt at directional passing, whereby you move your directional pad left or right to highlight the receiver of choice.

Sounds good, but if you want Rodney Crowell, who just so happens to be running a fly pattern down the left side, you'd better hope that Herman Moore isn't running a slant from right to left, because at that point it's a crapshoot as to who is going to be the intended target of that bullet pass you want to deliver.

On the flip side, it's a snap to bring second, third and fourth players into the fold at the touch of a button (a la arcade games). You need only push down a button on the other controller(s) to turn up the heat a notch. And this is one game where multiplayer mode really adds to the excitement level, no question.

Gameplay : 97
Even playing by your lonesome, however, this game really shines in the gameplay category. With action moving at such an alarmingly fast clip, you can break out into the open field with some mind-blowing 30-yard runs in about 2.6 seconds. And good thing too, considering you need to muster 30 yards for a first down in this game.

That's right, for those who aren't in the know, this NFL offering plays a wee bit fast and loose with the rules of the game (hence, the "No Rules, No Refs, No Mercy" motto). While first downs are 30-yard adventures, field goals can successfully be made, not just attempted, from the 50-yard-line in, players can knock opposing receivers on their posteriors with no yellow-flag results, and, as mentioned earlier, you can throw a celebratory touchdown dance into chaos by slamming the offending party headlong into the turf.

Another little Blitz concoction that isn't exactly to be found in other football games, including the one that takes place with actual humans in the actual NFL, is the ability to literally catch fire. With this little aspect, when you tackle the opposition for a loss on two consecutive plays or pass for gains to one receiver on three straight plays, you achieve near-invincibility, able to run forward while piggy-backing up to four defenders, able to stiff-arm a would-be tackler into the next century, and suddenly also strong enough to blast through the computer's offensive line for a flying sack.

Passing and rushing the ball are both easy enough to figure out, but you'll find yourself finding little reason to run the ball due to the 30-yard first-down markers. Again, the zippy nature of this game really seems to add more excitement to even the most rudimentary pass plays.

Speaking of excitement, but of a different kind, this is, quite honestly, a game that will absolutely anger you to no end due to some clear inconsistencies when it comes to this game's AI. And yet, strangely, that's partially what will most likely keep you coming back.

While you have your usual assortment of skill levels to choose from, ranging from Easy to Hard, what you'll notice here is that no matter which level you choose, the computer AI will always range within a given game. That is to say, you'll be hard-pressed to build an insurmountable lead and, likewise, you'll find it tough to get blown out of games, no matter the difficulty setting.

In a given game, you may stack up a 17-point lead on your computer opponent, only to see things even out completely soon enough. Clearly, this is a game that will frustrate you to no end. If you really, really a challenge, attempt a TD drive while holding onto a huge lead in NFL Blitz. Every pass that worked to that point in the contest will be deflected and more than a few miraculously end up bouncing into an interception. Every run play you can muster will, in the best case, turn into negative yardage, while several other runs will end in fumbles that, again, fall into the opposition's lap. Especially frustrating is attempting to defend the onside kickoff late in contests. Good luck! Balls bounce straight to the kicking team. Go figure.

On the flip side, if you find yourself down by 17 or so points, all of your pass patterns will work, a Hail Mary or two will be answered, your onside kicks will work and so on and so forth. Plus, those clock-management quirks in football games are almost non-existent thanks to game after game that goes down to the wire.

Replay Value : 90
Again, it's the gameplay that will keep you itching for more Blitz Mayhem, especially if you can bring a few buddies along for the ride. The entire atmosphere of this game lends itself to a brouhaha Blitz party complete with your own grunts and screaming as opposed to any type of cerebral discourse about the Tennessee Titans' old Buddy-Ryan-like 46 defensive package. And that's just what even die-hard Madden fans need every now and then.

And while the Season mode of this game will never capture your imagination with any sort of true-to-life stat-tracking or dynasty building, the one positive is that the games are so short that, on a lazy afternoon, you can play an entire 16-week season without a problem. This Season-In-An-Afternoon mode might leave your thumbs a little raw, but, hey, you're a football fan, after all.

Overall : 90
Sure, absolutely this game wins no awards for any sort of accuracy or realism, but I think we've figured that all out by now. Nobody is exactly going to pop in this CD to simulate what the '99 NFL season will bear. Then again, in this topsy-turvy year where the Rams and Colts lead the pack while the Broncos and 49ers are bottom feeders, maybe a season of NFL Blitz isn't all that far off base.

Still, this is a game that has smartly marketed itself as the alternative football title of choice for those who just want to have a good time. No Refs, No Rules, No Mercy? Hey, no problem!

By: Ron Barrett 12/8/99

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