NFL Blitz 2001
When Blitz first arrived in arcades and on the PlayStation, I was hooked, and so was just about everyone else around here. But when this latest version hit the office no one really seemed to care. Even though it's still a good game, and has many improvements over the original, it seems that there's a certain magic that this series has lost. The simplistic, no-holds-barred gameplay Blitz is known for is marred by complexity in 2001, due in part to selectable playbooks, play editors and a sophisticated playcall screen. The graphics, once the crown jewels of this franchise, have fallen behind the Dreamcast curve, especially against the likes of NFL 2K1. While the over-the-top hits and carnage are still amusing, they just don't have the same impact they used to. Probably sensing that the franchise was starting to feel stale, Midway did add some cool new minigames like the QB Challenge, Goal Line Stand, and 1st and Goal Frenzy--all situational challenges that must be completed for points. While they are nice, they aren't as fun as the Madden Challenges in Madden 2001 and isn't the jumpstart that fans of the series want. Online play would have been more of what the doctor ordered. Instead, Blitz 2001 is an unambitious game that I can only recommend if you don't already own any other titles in the series. That's probably the only way you can enjoy it as much as I did a few years ago.
There's a lot to like about Blitz 2001, not only for fans of the series but newbies as well. A shiny new facelift has the players looking slightly more compact and detailed, but still "Blitz-like." The fields and stadiums have been infused with extra detail as well. Other changes include new mini-games, more plays and revamped Al. It's tough to tell if the game is actually smarter, or dumber for that matter. I can't find anything out of the ordinary, or at least it seems as competent as last year's title. The one thing I don't like are the new menus. For some reason they went with lots of small generic type-it's really ugly. Beyond that, it's a great edition of Blitz.
The prerequisite roster updates, uniform colors and gameplay tweaks are all there, but I've always preferred real football sims to the Blitz series. This game continues the Blitz tradition of blending arena football, professional wrestling and smack-talking into frenzied, over-the-top, arcade-style mayhem. NFLB is a great-looking and feeling game once you're on the field, but the menu system is a little confusing. On the upside, you don't have to know the playcalling tendencies of the Jacksonville Jaguars (or your favorite team) in order to have fun, you just have to be a little quicker than your opponent at changing directions and button-mashing.