The NFL is synonymous with excitement and glitz; cheerleaders, fireworks and oversized foam hands all go towards creating one of the most exhilarating sporting atmospheres on the planet. But beneath the superficial, there are three things guaranteed to get the fans on their feet: huge passes, thrilling touchdowns and bone-crunching tackles.
And while NFL Tour revels in its own spectacle, gathering a glittering array of athletes for a seven-on-seven tournament beneath the night skies of America's hottest cities, it has these three elements in spades. With no pads for protection, no clock play and no kickers, you'll need speed, strength and a big arm to be voted Most Valuable Player on this tour.
Tour de force
Tour Mode is the main single player campaign and it allows you to create a character and play your way to an NFL contract. Once you have decided your player's appearance, right down to the colour of his gloves, you can choose their position and assign physical attributes. It all depends on whether you want to be a speedy wide receiver or a lineman with a physique like a Volkswagen, or something in-between.
Once you've chosen a team, the tour begins and you move from city to city, lining up against real NFL teams. To keep things varied, each city has its own challenge that needs to be completed in order to progress. For example, the San Diego leg is a timed game of two 90 second halves, while the winner in New York is the first team to score 24 points.
The controls are simple and there are enough flashy offensive moves - running up the side walls for example - to ensure that run plays are as effective as big passes. On the other side of the ball, you can go for the conservative block, wait to intercept the pass or, if you get the timing right, lay on a massive hit that will send the ball carrier flailing through the air.
Central to the game is the counter system, which sometimes allows you to break free from a tackle with a well timed button press. This simple mechanic really adds excitement and ensures that the emphasis is always on offence, resulting in high scoring games.
Smash and Dash
Also included are two mini-games called Smash and Dash and Redzone Rush. The former takes place in a specially designed circular arena and the idea is to keep the ball for as long as possible while up to five other players hunt you down. Redzone Rush is a game of one-on-one or two-vs-two with a simple goal - score more touchdowns than your opponent.
Both games, like exhibition mode, can be played by up to four people in multiplayer. This is tremendous fun; especially Redzone Rush, where co-operating with your partner is as important as stopping your opponents. Online, you can take on players from around the world.
Overall, NFL Tour is an action packed, concentrated American football game that is perfect for those unfamiliar with the sport, thanks to its simple controls and streamlined playbook. It is also a stylish game; players wear unique variations on their usual uniforms and the fictional stadiums look great against the twinkling backdrops of America's most iconic cities.
It's a celebration of everything that makes American football great - incredible athletes and a unique blend of aggression and finesse.