Who says you have to grow up? Here at SI.com's Game Room, our staffers review the latest sports video game titles to hit the market and welcome your feedback.
1/21/2008 11:32:00 AM
Review: NFL Tour (PS3, Xbox 360)
Reviewed By Aaron Samus
Image Credit: EA Big Games
Things We Like
Football On A Diet: With this new title, EA sets about trying to recast the NFL Street and NFL Blitz franchises into something even more simple and more arcade-like. In that aspect, EA succeeds, because this title is nothing if not simple. The first thing you notice is that NFL Tour is more about what isn't included. There are seven players on each side instead of 11. There are no uprights and no kickers or punters of any kind; kickoffs are handled with deep throws, schoolyard-style. There are no helmets. Audibles are not allowed. There are only about 10 percent of the plays available to choose from compared to Madden. There is no 50-yard line; the field is only 80 yards long.
Speed Dating: The games move much quicker than Madden. You can be in and out of one in 10 minutes real time flat if you play under the "standard rule" two-minute halves -- the clock only runs during the plays. In fact, the games are more like the Kansas Tiebreaker college football overtimes that hinge on the conversions (1 point from the 5-yard line, 2 points from the 10). Speaking of the college game, the option play and the "Wildcat" formation (the tailback lines up as the quarterback in the shotgun) is available in Tour and can be quite effective. Also, you can customize the rules (First and 20, Make It Take It, points for big plays, etc.) to change things up.
Be A Climber Though it can be tough to pull off, the Arena Football-like padded walls on the sidelines make for some creative moves. Hit the B button when near the wall and watch your runner hurdle a defender by running up the wall sideways. There is a "secret" achievement for scoring a touchdown after bouncing off both walls.
Pick A Play: The fact that you can't audible makes your play calling more important than ever. Think back to Tecmo Bowl when you called the same play as your opponent did, and you ended up getting sacked instantly. The limited number of plays and inability to audible brings back some of that element of random chance into the equation.
Do The Mash: The contests turn on the result of one-on-one button mashing battles. If you initiate the contact and hit the A button right before meeting your opponent, you'll have the upper hand and most likely win the battle. Often it comes down to who can mash faster, a skill that isn't utilized enough in modern gaming.
Check out NFL Tour in action:
Things We'd Change
Jersey Gets Shafted: It's hard not to feel like this title is EA's answer to 2K's baseball hit, The Bigs. There is a career mode where you have to create a player and then play every team, division by division. Unfortunately, you don't get added skill points to your character as you progress through the game; you are stuck with the guy you create at the outset. The stadiums are placed in the middle of exaggerated city landmarks. For instance, New York has a stadium in Central Park with the skyline looming over it, even though the Jets and Giants really play in New Jersey. Maybe they didn't think the Palisades would make a proper backdrop for a football game.
Who's Man Is That? Like most football titles, defense often can be a mystery to play. As far as I can tell, you have to blitz every down to have a prayer. Even if you get the CPU stuck in a third and long, though, chances are one of your cornerbacks will blow a coverage. The Smash Meter (think Gamebreakers) only works on defense, but even then it takes forever to fill up your meter and activate it. That's too bad because it's the best way to force a turnover. Being a down lineman, even a star like Miami's Jason Taylor, is futile because you can't move around before snap and will always be blocked for a few seconds at the beginning of every play.
Mute Trey Wingo: The play-by-play is nothing short of tragic. Turn down the volume on his mic the first chance you get. (Suzy Kolber must have been busy.) Junk the default "Tour Passing" mode while you're at it. Switch to "Classic" passing in the options menu. That assigns buttons to each receiver the same way as Madden and every other football game ever made does.
Wrong Foot: Whether your quarterback is on the run or not, you almost always throw off your back foot, falling backward. It's more than a little weird but the upside is your accuracy doesn't suffer when you throw on the run. Of course, that's more like a downside if you want any realism at all in your football titles. Pretty much any quarterback is mobile enough to make some big plays in the running game, especially if you send your receivers deep and roll out. You'll notice the enemy AI won't pick you up until you are 10 yards downfield.
Achievements Note: For the 360 version, there are only 14 achievements, which hurts replay value quite a bit. Moreover, the allocation of the points is out of whack with what we've come to expect. Fifty points for winning a mini-game?
Kids will like it and parents will no doubt appreciate the low price. This also could appeal to students still living in the dorms or off-campus with a bunch of roommates and online junkies. Serious football gamers who like to audible and get into the cerebral aspects of the game may be disappointed though.