Hands-on impressions with NFL Tour flow in

Posted October 11th, 2007 at 4:46 pm

NFL Tour

Having gotten the cover announcement out of the way, several sites have provided hands-on looks at NFL Tour. There were also six new screens released today. Those can be found in a new addition to the site, the screenshot gallery. You can reach that via the header or by clicking here. There was also the previous Q&A with producer Phil Frazier from last week which provided initial details of the game, much of which is covered again in these hands-on previews.


Similar to Tecmo Bowl and other football classics, players automatically know who their primary receiver is, and can toss the ball to them at any time. By hitting a button, they can run their checks and switch to another receiver that’s open and pass the ball to them. It’s incredibly simple and intuitive, and adds a dimension of speed to the passing game. Madden fans need not fear, because there will be an option to set your passing game up with a Madden pass scheme if you don’t like this new format.

Apart from the quick games, we found that there will be two mini-games included in the title: Smash and Dash and Red Zone Rush. Smash and Dash is similar to the Crush the Carrier mode from the previous Street games, although the arena that you’re playing in will have eighteen separate sides with walls that you can bounce off. Red Zone Rush, on the other hand, is similar to the Madden Open Field Showdown mini-game, where you try to score as many times as possible before time runs out. These join the primary feature, the NFL Tour mode, which focuses around your created player as he joins your favorite squad and tries to perform well, with the hope of eventually making his way into an NFL contract when the Tour is over.


In some ways, NFL Tour will feel familiar to Street vets. It’s still seven-on-seven arcade football, full of spectacular moves, (a bit toned down) wall-running jukes, and exaggerated character models. Consequently, what sets the game apart is the approach. First, from a presentation standpoint, this is an NFL game through and through.

Will you be able to upload your created character to next year’s Madden after you beat the single-player game? Producers said it’s something they are investigating at the moment, so expect more news on that in the coming weeks.

Of course, there’s still work yet to be done: The lighting was a bit too bright in some areas, the frame rate needed work in both versions of the game, and character models weren’t always in tip-top shape. Considering that there’s still a few months left in the development process–the game is due for release in January–we expect to see big visual improvements in the near future for the game.

Although the game makes its concessions to arcade styling with wall runs and over-the-top catch animations, the pace of the game feels slightly slower than the Street games of old. It’s not Madden but, in our opinion, it could stand to be sped up a bit. In addition, Tour’s passing needs some work–the build we played featured no way to lead receivers or toss bullet passes, which resulted in lots of lobbed, easily picked-off passes. The good news? No punting, no field goals, heck, no kicking at all. Ah, football without kickers. It sounds like such a nice dream, doesn’t it?

Game Informer

EA points out that while soccer and basketball have street versions of their sports, football doesn’t. While they tried to take elements of the NBA and FIFA Street games and incorporate them into seven-on-seven football games, the company wasn’t completely happy with how it turned out. With Tour, they believe they’ve struck a balance between arcade-style football action and something that won’t necessarily turn off die-hard Madden fans. While the action is still over-the-top—players don’t wear helmets, and they can run up the sideline walls for short periods of time—the days of super crazy Gamebreakers seem to be over.

The game is pretty simple, to the point where it almost feels retro. The interface is clean and stripped down, and the field isn’t cluttered with arrows or other Madden staples. One of the interesting aspects of the gameplay is the reversal system, which allows ball carriers to break through tackles or defenders to pull down quarterbacks. Once a player is in position for such a move, a button icon flashes over his head. Tapping the button repeatedly lets you pull off the maneuver. From what we played, it seems well balanced—you won’t become an invincible titan if you’ve got fast fingers, but it is a skill that can certainly come in handy.

The two venues we played in—Seattle and New York—were both outdoors, with the appropriate trimmings. The Seahawks play under the shadow of the Space Needle, and New Yorkers can watch their teams play right on the edge of Central Park. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of details other cities get—will the Vikings play in the shadow of the Metrodome? Characters get similar details, though their jerseys lacked player names in this build.

From the few games we played, we can see how the game could appeal to both sides of the football fence. People who might get turned off by the intricacy of the Madden experience might appreciate the easy controls and uncluttered presentation. Madden fans might like being able to actually see the faces under the helmets. We were a little underwhelmed with some of the action, though. While there are still a few more months left in the development process, there seemed to be a lack of big, meaty hits in the game. Even if we can’t spin the ball on our fingertips or dive dozens of feet through the air, it would be cool to see a bit more variety in the tackles. Even the powered-up tackles seemed like they belonged in JV, not the NFL.