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NFL Tour


Every time Electronic Arts attempts to launch a NFL hybrid, I always cringe. They have proven time and time again that Madden is a successful, flourishing franchise, but still feel the need to capture some portion of the market thatís into alternative versions of the game. Early on NFL Street was a poor manís NFL Blitz, but it did form into an above average title before EA strangely pulled the plug. With the release of NFL Tour, EA attempts to capture the essence of Blitz with the brand name NFL players. Unfortunately, the developers completely sucked any entertainment value out of the game when it was being created.

Gameplay

Typical to other EA franchises, the presentation is laid on thick in the opening and quickly launches into the main menu. Sadly, thereís not much to choose from in the menu. Tour only offers exhibition play, tour mode, a couple mini-games and online multiplayer. Exhibition is easy to jump into for a quick round of play, but most folks will go straight for Tour mode.

Tour mode is a true exercise in monotony. The concept was to give players a chance to build up a custom character and launch their career through the NFL Tour system. Each game during NFL Tour requires the player to complete specific goals in addition to winning the game. For instance, I had to play an entire round restricting the offensive set to run plays only. Unfortunately, building up a custom character is extremely boring due to lack of depth. There is little to do beyond playing round after round of football and there is little point to complete it due to a complete lack of unlockable items.

The mini-games are called Redzone Rush and Smash & Dash. Redzone rush is a trade-off style of play that pits a QB against a defender in an attempt to score a touchdown from 20 yards out. Itís moronically easy to win by simple shoving the defender out of the way. The second mode is more challenging and requires the player to hold onto the football while running around a small, circular arena collecting points. Neither mode is worth visiting more than a couple times; perhaps enough to lock down the achievements.

Quite opposite from the rest of the game, the multiplayer mode passes muster in terms of entertainment value. Playing against a real life opponent is arguably the only mode that should be utilized after popping this title in your 360. The over-the-top animations go hand in hand with the voice communicator, typically with a verbal lashing. All the games I participated in over Live were essentially lag free and finding an opponent didnít take long at peak hours.

The achievement set is fairly balanced when it comes to difficulty. Achievements like winning a game of Redzone Rush are easy for the casual gamer to complete while achievements like completing Tour mode will take hours upon hours for the hardcore player to finish. It is a small set of achievements though. There are only 14 achievements which remind me of the sports games in the early days of the 360. I did like the ďCheeserĒ achievement. Itís awarded for running the same play four times in a row. I can recall doing that to my college roommates and usually scoring multiple touchdowns.

Visuals & Audio

The visual scheme of the title is colorful, but the execution is bland. The player models donít have near the same detail as Madden and the astroturf laden fields are about as one dimensional as it gets. The landscape surrounding the stadium hardly defines the city where itís located and there is no real depth to the skyline. The main graphical animations in the form of fireworks are abysmally ugly and the player animations are occasionally a bit stiff. Opposing players are almost automatically repositioned when tackling incorrectly which causes a freakishly unrealistic motion on the screen. For a title built for the next-gen platforms, it doesnít offer the same level of detail or polish than mainstream sports franchises from EA.

The main detracting factor of the audio is the insufferable repetition in the commentary. Trey Wingo is the voice for each match and doesnít manage to bring any excitement into the game. His contrived script will annoy your ears within the first few minutes of the game. The commentary can be silenced in the audio menu, but he will still provide his useless comments during the breaks. The sound effects are pretty much standard fair and the music is of a rock variety. Neither add much to the over ambiance of the game though.

Conclusion

NFL Tour is really a game without an identity or purpose. You wonít feel the same visceral excitement from a round of NFL Tour as you do when playing NFL Blitz. The game also fails to offer any type of challenge to a Madden vet as the defense is ridiculously stupid and far too easy to evade during long pass routes. I canít recommend NFL Tour to anyone that enjoys simulation or arcade style football. Itís easily one of the stalest football titles released in the last few years.