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NFL throws penalty flag at NFL Blitz over late hits

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The NFL has blitzed Blitz.

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NFL Blitz (EA Sports)

Late hits, one of the signature features of the bone-jarring arcade football franchise, won't be a part of its next iteration. The league has asked EA to remove them from the game.

That's a call likely to upset long-time fans of the Blitz series, which specializes in extreme tackles and behavior that would never be tolerated on the real-world field.

"At the end of the day they really felt like, with the messaging that they have, and with their stance on player health and safety, that it was something that was better left out of the game at this point," Dave Ross, the game's project lead, tells Games Radar. "It still has the same over-the-top arcade experience that people remember from the old version of the game … it just doesn't have the late hits anymore."

Since its arcade debut in 1997, the Blitz series has been an odd match for the NFL. As the league became more safety conscious over the years, the video games got more brutal, eventually prompting the NFL to cut ties with original publisher Midway. That company moved forward with the franchise anyway, changing the name to Blitz: The League and recruiting a few NFL legends, like Lawrence Taylor, to star in and promote it.

Without the NFL license, the game got even more violent, including elements such as X-rays showing bones shattering, but when Midway folded and EA acquired the rights, those elements were dialed back down.

That's not surprising, given the cozy relationship between EA and the NFL. (The companies have an exclusivity agreement through 2013.) But don't think the fact that the league is overseeing the game means it will be a Madden knockoff. Ross says the NFL realizes this is not a simulation and supports its exaggerated type of gameplay. It just doesn't want to look like it's encouraging late hits.

The new Blitz will be available on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network in January.

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