Before it’s even sprung from the retail display cabinet, an indication of the level of quality contained in NFL Tour is present; it costs $39.99. The game’s publisher, Electronic Arts, is known for a lot of things, but the low sticker cost of their sports franchises is not one of them. If that isn’t a vote of no confidence, what is? It would be nice to say that, despite EA’s best efforts, NFL Tour falls flat on its face with its stale gameplay mechanics, lackluster presentation, and (almost) complete lack of customizability, but it really seems that this game was nothing but a quick cash-in for the company – and it shows.
NFL Tour is the distant cousin of EA Big’s NFL Street franchise. The player’s goal is to create his/her “superstar” from a list of completely uninspiring character customization options. After completing that step, the player goes on “the tour.” The game features a completely reworked set of football rules. Despite the attempt at a faster paced game, these rules serve to exponentially reduce the tension of the sport. The game has a couple other modes – “Smash and Dash” and “Redzone Rush” – which act as nothing more than tutorial mini-games to aid the player in getting acclimated to the title’s only redeeming quality – the reversal system.
Other than the reversal system, Tour is a formulaic, bare bones affair. Don’t go looking too far for any sort of coaching control, because there isn’t any. Time-outs are nonexistent, and fouling is impossible. Hell, even kick-offs got the axe; the new method, “throw-offs,” is apparently way more hardcore. The board meeting for this game must have been quite the event (most of it was probably spent discussing the price point).
In the name of kicking purchasers while he/she is down, the in-game announcing is just sad. The announcers frequently break the forth wall and generally sound like they would rather be anywhere but announcing the game. The commentators, in trying to form a satire of sports game announcers, often complain about how they keep repeating themselves. This joke wears thin after they say that same line – for the fourth time – in a five-minute span. It is hard to blame them for wanting to be elsewhere; the player will as well. At least they are getting paid for the privilege.
Finally, the graphics will feel cutting edge to anybody who didn’t play a Playstation 2 launch game. The way this game looks is simply inexplicable. With the exception of the grass, textures lack definition, and the lighting effects, despite the stadium’s ample lighting, are completely stale. Tour is the kind of game that lives and dies by its animation variety, and it has none. After playing one game of Tour, the player sees its whole hand.
It has been a long time since I played the classic, NFL Blitz, but my memories of it (even in its Dreamcast version) are far rosier than the reality of playing this game. Blitz had personality and fast, high impact gameplay. Tour offers players an afterthought that, even with its reversal system, can only hope to be improved next year. When a hope for improvement is the best thing that can be said about a game, perhaps it’s time to return to the boardroom.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR VERY OWN NFL TOUR SLEAZE BALL!
At the “Create Player” screen in Tour Mode, choose the following settings from the list.