They call it the “No Fun League,” and that sarcastic transition may be official. EA Sports released their remake of the arcade classic NFL Blitz this week to Xbox Live and PSN, solidifying the NFL as an overprotective parent.
NFL Blitz, in its original incarnation during the late '90s, was 7-on-7 brutality. Hits crushed skulls, knocked off helmets, and post-play became an elbow-dropping free-for-all. It's staggering what a decade can do.
Let's face it — the NFL isn't worried about the safety of its players so much as the financial risks taken when a Tim Tebow gets smacked across his face by a lineman. That's not to say players don't deserve a little protection; of course they do. It's a violent game, but when it's being taken to such unbelievable extremes as to ruin NFL Blitz, it's the owners who needs smacked.
Now, NFL Blitz has become football as if the league were officially sponsored by Purell — sanitized to the point where there's no life left. Late hits are nullified, virtual players (who, mind you, appear to be on super 'roids) stand around after the play as if they're confused as to what to do next. The speed is crimped, running about 10% or slower than it did before. Helmets no longer skate across the turf after a brutal hit because, well, there are no brutal hits.
Theoretically, NFL Blitz doesn't need excessive violence to work. It's a zippy, carefree style of gameplay that makes it enjoyable. It doesn't need a Hulk Hogan impersonator taking over motion capture to portray a leg-dropping Brian Urlacher. But, without all of those elements, the soul of this series has been removed, sent to a great idea farm in the sky until the NFL realizes a virtual Michael Vick being injured doesn't mean the same as a real one.
Hell, for years they've let EA slap some poor sap on the cover of Madden only to infamously cause the worst year of his career or injuries. Which is worse, allowing late hits in Blitz or condemning a superstar to a year of woe thanks to Madden?
To be fair, EA didn't seem to care all that much either about this refurbished Blitz, slumming it with regard to the rosters, sacking a number of basic gameplay modes, and trying to open up the gamelpay with a little too much complexity. As fun as it may be to bash EA, maybe they saw the writing on the wall when the NFL handed out their “No!” list. God forbid someone has a negative perception of these multi-million dollar superstars. It's not like they're under federal investigation for drug charges, right?