Blitz: The League II Review
When most people think of an American football game they immediately think of the Madden franchise. Partly because it’s the only really well known American football game, and partly because it has been the only decent game for a while. Well, things are about to change as Midway’s Blitz the League 2 (BTL2) steps out onto the field, ready to do some damage.
The Blitz series of games have been around for a while, but unfortunately haven’t been hitting their potential as of late. The first next-gen outing for the franchise (Blitz the League) had some nice ideas but couldn’t quite pull them off properly. This time around they have pretty much nailed it.
To begin with I will make it very clear that this is not a simulation football game like Madden, nor is it trying to be. This is an arcade experience through and through. On top of that, this is a very gritty, adult take on American football. If that sounds like your cup of tea, read on to find out about one of the best Blitz games to date.
Jumping straight into the action, lets talk about how the game differs from normal American football. First off, there are no referees, meaning tackles are brutal. Ever wanted to suplex another player as you tackle them? How about dropkicking them in the face? Well now you can. To make sure there is plenty of time to hit these tackles you have to make 30 yards in 4 downs, rather than the 10 yards that you must make in the NFL, and this really works well as it is constantly pushing you to make big plays in order to make a 1st down.
Thankfully these plays are very do-able due to some great gameplay mechanics, key of which being the clash meter. As you perform good plays you gradually build up your teams clash meter, which allows you to pull the left trigger and slow down time on the offense in order to make the perfect play. On the flip side, if you are on defense you don’t get slow motion but you can hold the left trigger while tackling someone to perform a dirty tackle, which hits really hard and cause the target to lose some of their stamina. Of course, using these abilities will drain your clash meter. Further to this, performing certain moves like a QB evade, stiff arm or dirty tackle will reward you with clash icons. When you obtain enough clash icons you go into unleashed mode. When in this mode you can perform nasty tackles designed to cause fumbles, and awesome catches.
Speaking of nasty tackles, this game has the most painful tackles I have ever seen. As you knock down the stamina of players, they become more prone to injury. If you hit someone with low stamina with a dirty tackle you sometimes get the opportunity to injure them. When this happens the game slows down and you get to target the body part you want to hit, and then power up your hit. Here comes the gruesome part. As you hit the player you will be treated to a slow motion anatomy view of the injury being caused. Basically you get to see the tendons ripping, bones breaking and blood spurting, all in glorious high definition. It is disturbingly satisfying to see a shoulder snap out of position thanks to your handiwork. The only downside to this feature is that there are only around 20 different breaks, which means you will likely see the same videos quite regularly, which is a bit of a shame. If you ever find one of your players being injured, you then get to treat to them using the new triage gameplay. This consists of you either aiming the needle to inject your player with, or even having to use the thumbsticks to snap your player’s bones back into position. This really isn’t for the feint of heart.
There are a few different gametypes for you to dive into, the best of which is the career mode which pits you as up and coming player Franchise. During your career you will get to train players, complete sponsor deals, get jiggy with the girls, and ultimately win the league. Further adding to the adult theme of the game is the ability to ‘juice’ up your players before a game with illegal drugs. The more illegal the drugs are, the bigger the benefit the player will get, but you run a higher risk you run of being caught using the drugs. The career mode also has a couple of twists to it, and you even end up playing ‘Prison Ball’, which is just insanely brutal, but great fun. After you have completed the career you can always play a tournament, take your skills online, or try out some of the bonus modes which offer up some interesting rules.
Graphically the game holds up nicely for the most part, with decent player models, nice details on the various different playing fields, and some slick looking menus and cutscenes. The collision detection is really well done, leading to some awesome looking tackles. There are however a fair few little niggles with the graphics which really impact the overall experience. The most obvious of this is how poor the trainers look as they come onto the field to tend to injured players. They look positively last-gen. Other disappointing aspects include the fact that the players waiting on the sidelines are no more than cardboard cut-outs. It looks awful when you have a play go over the sidelines and see them up close.
Thankfully the audio is solid. There is lots of on-field banter and various chat from your coach and the commentators, all of which sounds great. It’s all pretty funny stuff too, with the commentator often coming out with rather inappropriate comments such as “dry hump a cheerleader”. All the different on-field sound effects also sound spot-on, with each hit sounding believable, and the sound effects as you see bones breaking still make me wince.
Anyone looking for a fun, arcade alternative to Madden should look no further, this is it. The gameplay is innovative and fun, the graphics are good for the most part, and the audio is brilliant. Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to break more bones.