It’s February, it’s cold outside, and some big football game called the Super Bowl just saw an incredible upset by the New York Giants. It’s also the time of year for EA to roll out the latest incarnation of arcade fueled football in NFL Street, which has been neatly re-branded into NFL Tour. In this re-branding, authentic NFL players travel from city to city playing in overly simplified smash-mouth football where the playbook is slim, the sideline is an NHL rink “wall,” and the fun is as hard to come by as spotting Easter Eggs while blindfolded.
EA makes no attempt to present NFL Tour as anything more than it really is: a horrific Xbox 360 videogame. A flimsy nine-page instruction manual is the first hint of trouble, especially when two of the pages are dedicated to warranty information. No credits are included to show appreciation for the staff responsible in this travesty, surely a deliberate act of ensuring NFL Tour stays far, far away from their resume.
Not-so-subtle indicators of trouble continue with a create-a-player mode offering no more choices than the types of change in your pocket and a flashy pre-game introduction coded so it cannot be skipped. The arenas, plucked into the outskirts of famous cities, are hardly unique from another. And the crowd and atmosphere â€” or lack thereof â€” was more engaging seven versions of Madden ago.
Introducing the Tour and providing play-by-play and color(less) commentary is announcer Trey Wingo. What EA was thinking when hiring and scripting the lines for this buffoon is nothing short of a mystery. Half of his desperate attempts at humorous dialogue make fun of videogame announcers with oh-so-clever lines like “Do you ever wonder why videogame announcers repeat themselves,” followed by a pause, and then the line repeating itself. The sad part is that combination of lines ends up repeating themselves during the course of a single game.
Where NFL Tour falls apart the most is on the gridiron where the only innovation is a counter “Reversal” feature allowing offensive and defensive players to counter a move by their opponent in spectacular over-the-top fashion with a perfectly timed click of the A and X button, respectively. At the same time, any “Reversal” can be counter-reversed with a similar perfectly timed button click. If it sounds like something ripped out of a fighting game, it should as I’m sure it was.
What ends up happening with “Reversal” is you find yourself pounding on the A or X button every … single … play … in hopes of scoring one. And every time you do get one, the tackle or broken tackle goes into a slow motion animation for a couple seconds. While entertaining for a play or two, unlimited “Reversals” will reverse a player’s desire to continue playing.
Even without “Reversals,” NFL Tour is far too stripped down to offer anything beyond minimal enjoyment playing against a human opponent. The playbook consists of nothing more than a handful of short passes, long passes and runs, requiring overuse of identical plays within a single drive. A stupefied AI system allows the same plays and execution be pulled off by any team, whether the high flying Patriots or lowly Dolphins. Arcade simulations are supposed to be watered down version of the real deal, but not to this extent. I’d trade back every retarded “run along the plexiglass wall” Kung-Fu move an offensive player partakes in for even a sprinkle of additional gameplay diversity and intelligence.
It’s unfair to lump NFL Tour together with the NFL Street franchise because the former far outshines the successor. NFL Tour feels as if it was slapped together under a tight deadline by a team of unfortunate interns strapped with the project as punishment. There’s no heart, no soul, no creativity and no enjoyment to be had other than the bubbling of competitive juices playing against a friend. Even then you’re likely to drop the controller after a couple quick matches, and are much better off tracking down last year’s version of NFL Street for real arcade football action.
- Score: 3.5
- There’s bad, and there’s really bad. Somehow, someway, EA has managed to eclipse both with NFL Tour. Please bring back NFL Street. Please.