Over the middle and through the QB.
Every football game you see on TV can be placed in one of three categories: The Blow Out (in which one team completely demolishes the competition), The Hard-Fought Battle (in which the game is decided in the last seconds), and The Root Canal (in which both teams are guilty of numerous penalties, and the final score is something like 3 to 6).
Applying these categories to football video game publishers, I would say that EA and Sega's games are the hard-fought battles (both within each game, and with each other), 989 Studios is like going to the dentist, and Midway's games are the glorious, if redundant, blow-outs.
While there's no denying the inherent drama of a close football game, sometimes you just want your team to win extravagantly. As a Dallas Cowboys fan and a Cal Bears fan, I can attest to the value of a blowout. I thought last Sunday I was going to see the Cowboys demolish the Houston Texans, but what teeth I thought my team had were apparently replaced with marshmallows. Watching the Cal Bears beat Baylor's football team 70-22, when I thought I was about to watch my team get its jaw-wired shut, made one of the finest afternoons of the year.
Midway's new NFL Blitz 20-03 is a game with a lot of bite. Unfortunately, every bite is the same, making for a meal that grows stale awfully quickly. Not only does the gameplay become repetitive in and of itself, but Blitz 20-03 is very similar to Blitz 20-02, making for a generally redundant if still enjoyable series.
Blitz bears a striking resemblance to NFL Gameday 2003 in terms of modes; everything you'd expect and nothing more. There are Quick games, Exhibitions, Seasons, Tournaments, and a fairly standard Create-a-Player option. The modes are sparse, but since Blitz is at its best when played with friends, limited single-player options don't really hurt the game dramatically.
Blitz 20-03 is pretty much Blitz as you've always known it to be. Big offensive or defensive plays set your defense on fire, giving your players unlimited turbo. The hits are over-the-top and go on well after the action stops. Even though said hits get a little repetitive, they make the down time between plays pass a lot faster and are a kick to watch, especially if you manage to get your entire team in on the action.
Even though the plays are similar for each team, there's a good selection (including some running plays), and nearly all of them are potentially effective against the right defense. While Blitz is hardly considered a 'deep' football game, I've never found myself enjoying mis-directions and flea-flickers more. In fact, it seems like Blitz gives the player a degree of control lacking in supposedly superior games like EA's Madden series.
For example, any play can instantly become a flea-flicker, as any player can pass the ball as long as they're behind the line of scrimmage. This gives the player lots of choices on offense and keeps the gameplay fresh. And even though Blitz is easy to pick up and play, a good range of offensive jukes, stiff arms and hurdles make Blitz a game enjoyable for rookies and pros alike.
The competition in Blitz is heightened by the best defensive scheme out there. The ability to do basically anything to any offensive player at any time makes defense effective and fun. Instead of waiting for a play to develop and then trying to stop it, in Blitz you act first by either blitzing or taking out your opponent's receivers.
What makes Blitz's defense/offense dynamic so balanced is the ability to set 'Impact Options' while picking plays. These options dictate the tendencies of the team after the snap. For example, if you notice your opponent sending an extra blitzer every play, you'll need to put your offense in a blocking frame of mind, allowing you more time to get the ball to an open receiver.
The graphics in Blitz are standard. The fire effects aren't very impressive and the players all look the same with only a few body types. However, the animation is usually good when it needs to be (hits and jukes) and only really bad when it doesn't matter (players catching a ball that has been kicked to them don't move or respond at all).
Aurally, Blitz has good commentary with the announcers slamming botched plays, and thumping sound effects that add violence to the big hits.
Even though Blitz is great for mindless fun, it also has mechanics that make for one of the most rewarding football experiences out there. Unfortunately, this has been the case for a couple years, and not much has changed. This review could essentially be for Blitz 20-02, as the games are only superficially different. So if you're looking for a new and improved Blitz, you may want to try looking for a new football title altogether. If you don't own a Blitz game, then you're missing out on a very fun, if somewhat shallow, gridiron giant.