There are awful games, and then there’s NFL Tour. This atrocity of an NFL Street re-imagining manages to defile all our fond memories of the past series due to a seemingly constant string of poor development choices. Let’s explore the painful depths of the most poorly crafted football title in years.
The seven on seven format works decently for offensive play, where outside of general simplified mechanics, a reversal system takes center stage. Smashing through the opposition with properly timed button presses is actually — we hate to admit it — a tad satisfying. On the other hand, this system is overpowered, leading to an effortless offensive game. Consequently, it’s impossible to play defense adequately. The rival team, even on the “rookie” difficulty setting, is far too tricky to stop.
The main issue lies in the endless string of reversals a running back is able to perform when you try to bring one down. It isn’t unusual to have five solid consecutive tackles foiled by the unstoppable opposing offense. This unbalanced gameplay leads to a sequence of never-ending touchdowns, where games are won by whoever has the last possession. Even the addition of the defensive Smash Meter (which replaces the far more exhilarating Gamebreaker) barely helps hamper the title’s massively lopsided play. Not cool.
While in Exhibition mode first down distances can be tweaked to somewhat fine-tune the gameplay, the laughable Tour mode contains no such option. You’ll be given specific objectives to complete without any reward for doing so. Generic character customization aside, there’s no flexibility with the Tour, and as a result, no reason for playing through it at all.
RedZone Rush and Smash and Dash round up the pack as the other single player modes. While these extras are entertaining for a bit, there are only so many times — approximately two times actually — that you can stop a ball carrier or avoid being tackled and enjoy the experience.
NFL Tour’s only draw whatsoever is its offline multiplayer. We had a bit of a guilty pleasure when tossing around NFL Tour’s digital pigskin with a few other buddies, reminiscing about NFL Blitz ’98 as we played. While the game still remained remarkably unbalanced, at least it was equally uneven for both sides. Unfortunately, the enjoyment of the old-school style wore off almost as quickly as it came (about 15 minutes to be precise). A title that reminds you of another game ten years prior probably isn’t too satiated with innovation either (this holds true for NFL Tour). As for online play, the whopping two players online were playing with each other, so we couldn’t join a match. Simply put, an online community is non-existent.
Graphically, NFL Tour looks as appealing as the ‘Surprise Stew’ served at your community’s local elementary school. The title sports a very clean style, which looks about on par with the lower-end launch titles which were available a year and a half ago. Also, it took us about three hours of play to realize that we were playing across a variety of stadiums; they’re that generic, and a big step down from those seen in NFL Street. Not only does Tour look horrid on the surface, but it also sports terrible animations as well. Our personal favorite: a touchdown celebration where the cheerful player walks straight into a wall, feet sliding across the grass as if performing the moonwalk. “But, but, but, what about the fireworks?” clamors our personal make-believe EA PR person. No offense Mr. PR man, but the fireworks sort of suck too.
It’s really hard to continue pointing out NFL Tour’s flaws, but we’ll explain one more of Tour’s fumbles. ESPN’s Trey Wingo is a dreadful announcer. His forced attempts at humor consist of lines like “Did you ever wonder why video game announcers repeat themselves?” He then repeats the line. We can’t forget “I’ve run out of things to say, so I’m going to start repeating myself, and you’re going to sit there and take it.” It sort of explains itself – playing this game is punishment.
NFL Tour is amazing – at being a dreadful game. EA attempted to simplify the game of football for the non-Maddenites, but they overshot horribly. Their absolute failure was the result of completely missing the entertaining medium between simulation and arcade-style gameplay. Even at its reduced price tag, with NFL Tour’s busted gameplay mechanics, graphics overshadowed by most launch titles, and lack of any personality whatsoever, under no circumstances should anyone pick up this game.