NFL Tour Review
The NFL has never been popular in Europe, but since I am from the U.S. I live and breathe the NFL. At first glance, NFL Tour looks like your regular run of the mill sports arcade game. Therefore, you would expect it to be fast paced, filled with exaggerated moments, and since it’s the NFL: big hits. Sadly, NFL Tour fails to deliver in a lot of areas that make an arcade sports game great.
NFL Tour is all about creating a character and becoming the best of the best in the National Football League. The whole goal of the game is to make you feel as if you too could be an NFL star. Starting with the tour mode you get to create your character that you will use in a real NFL team. The create-a-character mode is by no means deep and only has a few customizable options when it comes to face, body type and clothes that you wear. This isn’t a portion of the game that will consume most of your time as the selection of faces is small. After you create your character you decide where he is from, what his first and last name is going to be, what his nickname is and what position he plays. Then when you have chosen your position you are given so many points toward deciding what you want your characters strengths to be. If you have chosen Wide Receiver, for instance, you already have a lot of points in the catching category, but you may not have so much in the O-moves. After you’ve completed all of this you then choose what NFL team you want to play for. In my situation I chose a WR and played for the Dallas Cowboys. By doing so, I replaced the best receiver on my team.
The tour consists of your team playing through all the divisions and their teams. Every game, whether exhibition or on the Tour, is played 7-on-7 with different players playing offense and defense, unlike NFL Street where all 7 players that you choose play both sides of the ball. When you are playing on the tour in each division you have different rules. One division may have you just play a regular football game in which whoever scores the most points in the time allotted wins. Another division may tell you that you are not allowed to have running plays and to receive first downs you must go 20 yards with four tries instead of the usual 10. Since there are so many teams, this can get old quickly. And a lot of the monotony comes because the gameplay is weak.
When you boot up NFL Tour, it seems as if it’s going to be a speedy, hard hitting arcade football game. When you start playing however you will notice that it is neither of these. Madden 08 has faster game-play than NFL Tour, and that’s a shame because this is supposed to be more dramatic. When you put on a juke or you’re running with turbo, you may feel as if your baby sister can run faster. The overall feel of speed just isn’t there. The hard hits are another area of weakness. They only happen when a player is getting gang tackled. To make matters worse, gang tackles by default happen in slow motion. This can seem cool at first until you realize the hard hit really wasn’t so hard and that the slow motion slows down gameplay more than it enhances hard hits. This slow-mo option can be turned off, but then the hard hits look even less-so.
What helps out the lack of hard tackling though is the ability to counter. If you are on offense and you get hit slightly, you can time a button press and stay on your feet, if you are on defense and you miss a tackle you can do the same thing to bring down the ball carrier. Out of everything else in the gameplay, this works pretty well until you turn off the slow motion option for the counter that gives you a little extra time to get your button press in. When slow motion is off you will find out that it is hard to counter because you are mashing the tackle or break tackle button (which doubles as the counter button) and usually perform the counter too early.
The passing system makes me scratch my head in confusion as well. Usually in NFL video games when the Quarterback drops back to pass the ball to the Wide Receiver there is an icon over the player’s head that corresponds to a button on your controller. EA Tiburon felt as if that aspect of the game needed changing. Instead of having three buttons to choose from that correspond with a receiver you have to scroll through receivers using the O button and whatever receiver has the X on top of it you can throw to. I played around with this for a little bit and let me tell you, it can seriously slow the game down even more because you are scrolling through players rather than throwing to a player instantly. There is, thankfully, an option to switch back to “classic” mode.
Unlike most football games, you can’t move your player at all before the snap, which is kind of frustrating. And if you have an open field toward the end zone after you’ve caught a pass, it’s hard to run straight ahead. You get the feeling that you are letting go of the steering wheel and your car is just veering left or right. It’s almost as if you are being forced to run to the middle of the field when you are trying to run straight on the sideline.
Another area that confuses me is the commentary. Trey Wingo from ESPN was given the opportunity to be the commentator for NFL Tour. The bad part is whoever decided to write his script wrote in all sorts of, “Don’t you hate repetitive video game commentators” jokes. At first, these can be funny, but then you realize, they are not needed at all. I have played this game for a little while now and sometimes I hear new commentary, but I can’t appreciate it because Wingo keeps commenting on how repetitive his commentary is. The commentary has enough lines to keep it from being too monotonous, but his constant mentioning of how repetitive he is creates monotony. He also consistently says the wrong thing. When a player would score a touchdown he would make a comment about how that player needed to step up and play better.
Rarely, and I mean less than 1% of the time, do I hear the players themselves actually talking smack to each other. Again, you would think that an arcade type game would have a lot of smack talk between the players, but this game virtually has none. And that only adds to the monotony that is NFL Tour.
Scenery is another issue. An arcade football game like this creates a great opportunity to spice up the stadiums, to make them look different, to make them have positive and negative attributes. Alas, all of the fields look almost identical. It really doesn’t matter to me if I’m playing in Pittsburg, or New York. The field is always the same color with shades of blue and green, the covering is always the same color with orange and you have side and front-view stadium seating. No creativity, no change of pace. This is also the case with the characters themselves.
In an NFL video game where every character usually wears a helmet you wouldn’t expect the face to be detailed, but in an American football game where the players do not wear helmets you would expect the players faces to be extremely detailed. This doesn’t happen in Tour. One of my favorite players is Marion Barber III who plays for the Dallas Cowboys and is pretty well known in the U.S. to an NFL fan. On Tour he just looks like an average African-American with dreadlocks. This is common among other players who would be thought of as well known. On the flip side some characters are extremely detailed, which makes me wonder why the art team at EA Sports didn’t take the time to detail everyone in their no-helmet game. But I guess I could couple that with the graphics looking the same as they did on the PS2. NBA Street on PS3 looked clean, realistic, polished and detailed. NFL Tour looks blocky, cartoony, and bland. Cartoony isn’t a bad thing, but it seems as if they were going for a more polished look and ended up looking exactly the same as they did on a current-gen system.
Overall, as bad as this game is, it is good for kids and has a nice pick up and go style of play. But it lacks depth and creativity. There are only two extra modes besides just playing football and they are boring. NFL Tour has failed to be a fun fast paced arcade football game all around, but it can be enjoyable in spurts. If you live in the UK, take this score and subtract 20%.