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NFL Blitz 2001 (DC) Review

Background Info


With the NFL season dwindling down and college football already over with, football appears to be almost over. For years past, that would be the case, but this year NBC and WWF plan to merge and create a new football league, the XFL. The XFL will start playing games sometime after the Super Bowl. For those who are curious what XFL games will be like I suggest trying NFL Blitz 2001 (Blitz 2k1) for the Sega Dreamcast. On the back of the case, the game states that it has, "No Refs, No Rules, No Mercy." One thing that was forgotten was it has, "No Realism" either. Either way Blitz 2k1 does a great job of taking football and blending in some wrestling. The quick and addicting gameplay will provide hours of fun. All I know is that it is the best 7 on 7 football game on the market.

Presentation/Graphics : 90
Blitz 2k1 has awesome graphics, but most people will never notice. That is because the camera angle that Blitz 2k1 uses is terrible. The camera angle is panned out very high and far from the field and the players. So the detailed players aren't magnified until the very end of the play when the camera zooms in for a few seconds. I think it's pretty sorry when you have to go to instant replay just to appreciate the cosmetics of a game. When you do get a glimpse of the players and the field, the sight is quite impressive.

The players are done beautifully. They have no jagged edges on their bodies. Their jerseys have wrinkles in them and the uniforms are exact replicas. The player models aren't equal in quality to say NFL 2k+1, but they are still very eye popping (I believe NFL 2k+1 is on a different level graphically as compared to almost any game on any platform). Although the stadiums aren't authentic, they still are nice to look at. The field is covered with various emblems and logos. The weather also changes in Blitz 2k1. Some games you will have perfect sunshine and others you'll have a downpour of rain or a flurry of snow. When it's raining or snowing, the game looks beautiful. Although the weather doesn't affect gameplay, it's still very nice to look at.

But what impresses me the most is the frame rate. Too often you'll see a game that has ultra-fast gameplay, but has an inadequate frame rate. Either not enough frames are used and the gameplay gets choppy or the frames play at a high rate and game speed comes to a halt. March Madness 2000 for the PSX was a great example of this. You'd try to execute a spin move or a cross over and you'd never see it. That was because there weren't enough frames in the move and certain parts were just skipped. Blitz 2k1 succeeds in never having a glitch or a slog while playing the game.

Presentation/Audio : 84
Due to the fact that Blitz 2k1 doesn't try to create a TV-style presentation, the commentary can be, let me think of the right phrase: "off the wall." The commentator is quite humorous and for the most part very accurate. One of my favorite phrases from Blitz 2k1 is, "HEY! Unsportsmanlike conduct. Way to Go!" In Blitz 2k1 you can knock the helmets off of players during a tackle. After one player lost his helmet, the commentator said, "YOU TOOK HIS HEAD OFF!!!! Wait, that was just his helmet." That comment caught me off guard and resulted in a hearty laugh. The commentator is a Dennis Miller replica, with continuous one-liners throughout the game, but the main difference is this guy makes sense.

The on-field sound bites are also very solid. The players provide an assortment of grunts and screams. Blitz 2k1 also has a weird sound bite when you lower your shoulder and plow into an opponent (or two or three). When you make contact, the sound of bowling pins getting knocked down is emitted. The game also has different levels of crunches when a player gets tackled. If you closed your eyes and kept the sound on, you'd never guess the game was football. Nevertheless that is what makes Blitz the game it is.

Blitz 2k1 also implements player speech. Some of the lines are humorous, but most are simple taunts to an opposing player. There are only five or six of them and they get repetitive after a while.

Interface/Options : 40
This is the one part of the game that isn't head and shoulders above its PlayStation and N64 counterparts. You would think that a game on a bigger console with more capabilities, there would be more features or game options. The game options and interface are exactly the same as the N64 version of NFL Blitz. I actually enjoy the N64 interface more than the DC interface because there is less of a load time.

There are four types of game modes in Blitz 2k1. There is the arcade mode. This is, in a roundabout way, the exhibition or quick start mode used in other games. Next up is the season mode. Blitz 2k1 is one of the few sports games that you will see without a franchise or multiple season feature. It seems like every game has one and is a necessity not a luxury. If you feel like playing more than just one game (arcade mode), but not a full season (season mode), you can play in tournament mode. You can have a tournament with as many as eight teams. Finally there are the brand new party games. The party games are the most effective way to hone your skills for the real games. There are three party games to choose from: 1st & Goal Frenzy, Goal Line Stand, and QB Challenge. 1st & Goal Frenzy is a game where you have to score a touchdown in four downs starting at the ten-yard line and moving back ten yards after each successful score. If you can score from the 50 yard line using four plays you win the game. Goal Line Stand is the exact opposite of 1st & Goal Frenzy. Instead of trying to score in four plays and moving back in ten yards increments, you have to try to prevent a score in four plays moving forwards in ten yard increments. Both games are very challenging. The final party game is the QB Challenge. This is a great game to get accustomed to Blitz passing. You have to hit three highlighted receivers in a specific amount of time. The game is really easy if you use icon passing, but if you try and use D-Pad passing (to pass to the receiver on the left you press D-Pad left + pass, to the middle receiver just the pass button, to the receiver on the right D-Pad right + pass) the game gets very complicated. You have to use your brains and be aware of the receivers routes. The receivers will run a plethora of crossing routes and sometimes won't run their designated routes, so the receiver who was on the right will now be the receiver in the middle. QB Challenge prepares you very well for real games.

Blitz 2k1 also has a create-a-player/team/play feature. All are pretty basic compared to other sports games with similar features. One noticeable omission is the ability to try your created play after you have created it. This feature was in the N64 version, but was nowhere to be seen in the DC version. The create-a-player feature is interesting because you are not able to max out all of your players attributes from the get-go, but rather have to earn extra points by winning arcade games.

With sports games out today with a seemingly endless amount of game modes and features, Blitz 2k1 falls short of the norm.

Gameplay : 89
Everyone knows that a game can't be good unless it excels in gameplay. Blitz has tight control and the players are very responsive. There is no delay between your push of the button and the players' action. Blitz 2k1 fashions itself as being a high-speed version of football. If the players didn't respond immediately to your controller the game would be unplayable.

You should expect to pass the ball A LOT. There are no running plays in the game. The only way you get to run the ball is if you throw a lateral. Luckily, passing is very easy to pick up. The main reason is the poor defensive AI. The sheer dumbness of the defensive players aren't as evident when the CPU is playing a man to man defense, but when they play a zone. If an offensive player isn't within five yards of the CPU defender it doesn't move. An example is as follows; The WR catches the ball under the defense and instead of the safeties and remaining DB's coming up to make the tackle, they just stand there motionless.

After you drop back you use the D-Pad to choose what receiver you want to throw to. The receiver you will throw the ball to is highlighted. This method of passing is similar to the old Tecmo Bowl games. But for those die-hard icon passers, there is also icon passing too. Either way makes an easy time for passing the ball.

Once you've caught the ball you have the option of executing a spin move, hurdling, or using a stiff arm. If you use the moves correctly and at the right time, you can score a touchdown almost every play. Be careful though, if you use the spin move more than once per play you become very susceptible to fumbling the ball. Catching the ball can be quite the adventure also. For passes that the receiver has to jump for, the odds of the pass being intercepted are very high. If you don't catch the pass, the ball is going to be tipped up into the air. It seems that the defender comes up with it almost every time. It is not rare for a QB to throw five picks in a game (that would be nearly normal if quarters weren't only two minutes long). The action doesn't end when the defender intercepts the ball. Many times the defender will fumble the ball. At times it seems like you are playing pinball. The most turnovers on one individual play I have experienced were four. There was one interception and then three fumbles. After that play my head was spinning!

Defense can be really fun. Since there are no penalties, pass interference is allowed. The best method of going at things is, "see player, hit player." The QB cannot throw a pass to a receiver that is on the ground. The offensive AI also shows its deficiencies. The offense will do the same thing against the same defense over and over again no matter how many times you run the play. There is one defensive play that sends two or three players from the right hand side. The CPU will always have the QB scramble to the left. I ran that blitz an entire game once and the CPU never picked it up.

Although the CPU can be taken advantage of on both offense and defense, special teams are automatic. I've seen CPU kickers kick 65 yard field goals and punt a ball 70 yards. Kicking is as simple as this. There is a lateral meter that gauges accuracy of kick for field goals, and a vertical one only judging distance for punting.

The enjoyment climaxes for the few seconds after the play when you can lay into opposing players. Normally the action would garner a personal foul flag, but in Blitz there are no penalties so it is legal. As elementary as it sounds, it never gets old to power bomb the quarterback after the play has finished.

Replay Value : 65
Without a multiple season game mode, Blitz 2k1 wears its welcome out a bit earlier than other games. The game boasted of increased AI, but the game is still very easy. The game is still a turnover frenzy. The abundance of turnovers could turn off a lot of gamers from playing this game longer than a week or two.

I do think the potential is there. Blitz 2k1 has MULTIPLAYER written all over it. Playing, "mano a mano" is the best way to exploit Blitz's fun factor. Maybe in Blitz 2002 online play will be available. That would enhance the replay value immensely.

Blitz 2k1 is very fun and very addicting, but I couldn't see playing this game any longer than a few weeks. I think this game would be a fun rental game to play with friends over a weekend. Blitz 2k1 is a "shooting star" game. For the short term, this game is awesome. I would rate this game as high as any sports game on the market, but I think a game must have a lasting appeal as well. That is where Blitz 2k1 falters.

Overall : 81
Although the AI isn't very good, the game still plays fine. Blitz 2k1 is so entertaining it becomes easy to overlook some of the downfalls. The game grabs your attention right out of the box. The only problem, it loses your attention almost as quickly as it grabs it. For the football purist Blitz 2k1 is not for you, but for most gamers who want a fun and exciting game, Blitz would be a great game to rent. I think the XFL should buy the rights to this game. The two styles of play appear to be close and the fit would be perfect. Blitz isn't on the same level as NFL 2k1 or Madden 2001, but it doesn't aspire to be. It is an excellent football game that for the right person could do the job.

By: Tim Martin 1/22/01

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