|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Sports BIG||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 8, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
NFL Tour is a budget arcade title from EA Sports BIG. I'll have to say I was not excited to play this game going into it. I figured it was simply going to be a mildly reworked NFL Street title that I was going to loathe. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. This game plays a lot less like NFL Street and a lot more like the outstanding 90s arcade title NFL Blitz from Midway. If you're expecting a Madden-like experience, then you'll hate this game. However, if you like to run up the score on your opponents, want non-stop action, and like to have the computer crush all of your hopes with the occasional last second sacking of your QB right before you're going to throw to the open man for the win this is a good game for you. I'll have to admit it; I really liked this game.
Gameplay is punctuated by big hits and big plays. You'll play seven a side, but don't get too excited rugby fans; this is more or less Arena-style football. Your players wear no helmets or pads, and the kickers have been relegated to riding the pine. That's right. You'll have to throw the ball off to your opponents and make one or two point conversions after scores from either five or ten yards respectively. There is no punting and no field goals so each team has four full downs with which to work. This can be incredibly maddening on defense, especially at the beginning. In fact, it is downright tough to stop teams from scoring every trip down the field.
However, if you don't get frustrated easily you will get the hang of it. I suggest picking a team with a great linebacker. I played the Tour mode as the Bears with a created QB that was a lights-out passer. I was unstoppable. Urlacher is an absolute weapon in this game. He turns O-lines into Swiss cheese and then grates QBs. Other than trying to master defense, it's important to stop conversions and convert your own. These few points often make the difference between victory and defeat. You've got to know that this game is a shootout. Whether you're playing against buddies or the A.I., you will get scored on often. You've got to deny the opposition their points after touchdowns and just march right back down the field then score and convert.
Game modes are both varied and fun. The NFL Tour mode is essentially the career game type. You will create a player with simple tools and add skill points to the attributes that will best suit his position. If you're looking for deep character creation, you should be playing Madden, not Tour. From there you will go to specific venues in order to play a set of teams. You will be tasked with beating each team under a particular set of guidelines. For example, you'll start off by playing teams from the AFC West in San Diego. You'll advance if you can outscore each team in the time allotted. Next, you'll be off to New York to take on the teams of the AFC East. In this new locale, the criteria have changed, and you'll have to beat each team by being the first team to 24 points; there's no time limit, and you'll start with the ball. The venues, teams, and criteria continue to change as you advance through the Tour. In fact, winning criteria can get a bit goofy the longer you play. This is unfortunate because the Tour ends up losing its luster because of it. If you're persistent, you'll eventually take on All-AFC, All-NFC, and All-NFL teams. If you do make it all the way through the meat grinder to Washington D.C., then you'll be ready to sign an NFL contract.
Other than the Tour mode, you can also play an Exhibition. Exhibitions are great because you have full control over the game's parameters including the site, teams, players, positions, and even the rules set. For example, on offense you can actually make touchdowns worth negative points or you can edge them up all the way to 10 points. You can also make five or ten yard conversions worth more, and are even able to award or punish power moves and offensive reversals. On defense it's the same. You can make defensive plays such as safeties, fumble recoveries, interceptions, sacks, tackles, and reversals worth anywhere from -10 to 10 points. As you might imagine, this changes the complexion of the game quite a bit. Changing the rules set is novel, but at the end of the day the default rules are the most fun.