Last week, we discussed a football game that was a part of a yearly release cycle, but managed to stand out from prior years with more than just a facelift. Madden NFL 2003 was a leap forward for the franchise and brought some refreshing new game modes to breath some new life into what could have been a stale retreading of Madden NFL 2002. This week, well, we’re looking at a similar situation, and how the whole thing can kind of go wrong, with NFL Blitz 2003.
While August 12, 2002 was a great release day for the Madden team at Electronic Arts, the team at Point of View, Inc. wasn’t riding quite as high. Their latest release, NFL Blitz 2003 was being released less than five months after NFL Blitz 2002, which we’ve discussed already in episode 41, and it was sharing the same day as Madden NFL 2003. This wasn’t the absolute worse thing in the world, it could have theoretically gone well, as the two series approached the sport in very different ways. Madden, with its high sense of realism, appealed to consumers who were looking to simulate their favorite teams as accurately as possible. Blitz, on the other hand, was settled squarely in Midway’s arcade wheelhouse, bringing faster plays, harder hits, and the always exciting On Fire effect when teams were doing particularly well.
The difference this year, however, is that, as discussed, Madden was more of a step forward, with the inclusion of licensed music, a mechanic training mode, and deeper customization options than ever before. NFL Blitz, however, is little more than a revamp of 2002. The graphics are marginally improved, with some new animations and textures, but they aren’t that much better than what we saw last time. We’ve finally received the Create-A-Player mode, and even though the character options are absolutely incredible (there’s mascot options, and one of them is a hot dog), this is the only new mode this year, reinforcing the feeling that Blitz 2003 is a minor upgrade to Blitz 2002.
Midway and Point of View did manage to turn the soundtrack entirely into an album by Quarashi, a rap group from Iceland, who had just come to America. Unfortunately, they didn’t manage to license Quarashi’s most popular song, “Mr. Jinx”, those rights actually went to, surprise, Madden.
I know, it seems unfair to base the quality of Blitz 2003 against its primary competition and it’s previous entry. And truly, if nothing else, Blitz 2003 is a good game. It’s fast, it’s full of action, and it leans on its arcade roots to provide a fun play experience. Plays run fast, players hit hard, and it never gets weighed down in trying to be a perfect simulation. Blitz knows what it’s about, and it knows why you’re here: to jump right in and hit the field.
NFL Blitz 2003 isn’t a bad game by any definition, but because of the untimely release date and lack of forward momentum, we are forced to compare against both past titles and the biggest competition. This entry wasn’t worth the price of a full game, five months later, and there’s a reason why Madden is the series that’s still coming out every single year. We will revisit NFL Blitz one more time in episode 367, but until then, remember: if these titles had been released in 2017, this wouldn’t have been a second $60 release; it would have been a patch update.
Did you ever play NFL Blitz 2003? What did you think of it? What did you like or hate about the game?
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