Blitz: The League Review
Blitz: The League, the game that the NFL never wanted to see. You get to see everything from bone breaking tackles (I’m talking literally here) to some rather dirty off-screen shenanigans. In this game you won’t see Young, McNabb or Bush, you won’t see the Orange Bowl or the LP, instead you simply get brutality. A game not just aimed at NFL fans but also the general gamer who simply wants to vent their anger on someone and what better way than to fracture an opposing player’s neck, or dislocate their shoulder. The main question being of course is it actually fun enough to justify the thirty odd pounds that you’ll need to buy it?
The Blitz games have been around for a long time, the first time I had the pleasure of playing was with NFL Blitz 2K on the PS1 and what a game it was. I didn’t even know what any of the teams, rules, or even what American Football was but that game was simply amazing. Even after tackling a player you could go in and drop your shoulder on their heads or cause some other unjustified pain on your opposite number.
But anyway onto the game itself. Now the rules don’t quite follow that of Madden, instead of trying to gain 10 yards for a first down you must now gain 30, and there’s only eight players to do it with. Also the amounts of plays at your disposal have been cut by quite a bit compared to Maddens playbooks.
There is quite a number of new features as well, the first being the X-ray bone breaks. Now it’s not new but it’s been missing from a couple of Blitz games and now it’s back in all it’s wonderful glory. To get a glimpse of the X-ray you must simply pull off a dirty tackle on an opponent. Now nine times out of ten you’ll tackle the player and that’s about it, but on that odd one tackle you’ll manage to fracture, sprain, break or concuss your opponent in some part of his body, then up pops the X-Ray to show the damage you’ve managed to cause. Something so simple makes tackling that little bit more meaningful, you really feel a great sense of pride after fracturing their smack talking QB’s forearm.
There is always the problem of one of your own players sustaining some sort of injury and then out comes the doc with his, well erm, legal methods of recuperation. By that I mean he will give you two options, you can either let your players wound heal which can take quarters, games or even seasons to fix, or you can choose to ‘juice’. When you juice your player they only leave the field for a couple of plays, but if he is then re-tackled and sustains the same injury he will be out for a very long time indeed.
Now the newest feature in this latest title is its all shiny ‘Clash’ mode. The clash meter applies to both your Offense and your Defense and to get your clash meter up you must pull of sacks, late tackles, long passes, TD’s and things of that nature. Once you have filled your bar to a certain degree than you can simply wreak havoc on the opposition. While using the Offense you can pull off jukes, stiff-arms, QB dodge or perfect-passes, as for the Defense you can break your opponent’s bones, force fumbles, force Interceptions or just pull off some dirty hits.
While in Clash mode you will be rewarded for pulling off the previously mentioned moves plus things like taunting the opposition, causing season long injuries, turnovers, TD’s and so on and so forth. Once you’ve collected six of the icons your clash bar becomes an ‘Unleash’ bar. When in Unleash you can cause even more damage while tackling, your passes will be even more precise and you’re juking and twist will be even more effective, but use it wisely as once you’ve pulled of that one move you’ll have to start from scratch again.
Now onto the campaign mode of the game and once you start it you get a cut-scene which shows some team losing, the manager gets pissed off and decides to erase them and start from scratch and then you come in. You can create practically any team name; add your own logo, your own team colours, your own stadium and even your very own cheerleaders. Not forgetting of course the coaching staff and players whom you can choose to be conservative or aggressive and whether they favour the run or the pass.
You start down in Division III and have to fight your way up to Division I. Your first season you have to get at least 7 wins out of 10 to proceed into the Championship game, you must then win that to go up to the next Division and the next Division follows the same set pattern. While on your travels you will be given various choices, including whether or not to send some escorts (if you get my drift, wink, wink, nudge, nudge) to the opposing teams hotel so they are more tired when it comes to game time. You will also be able to distribute *cough* perfectly legal *cough* drugs to your various players to help boost everything from speed to arm accuracy. There are a few cut-scenes throughout the season but they are pretty meaningless and don’t hold any sway on how your team plays come the next game.
There are also quite a few Quick Game modes including Super Clash Mode, Deuces Wild, Super Unleash Clash mode, Domination and my favourite, Butterfingers, which sees your whole team lose the ability to actually keep hold of the football and its really is just hilarious to watch. When you take the game online it’s just as fun as in Quick Play mode, you can take your custom team and simply cause mayhem against another player with his very own team.
Graphically the game is lacking a bit, it is in essence an Xbox port with ever so slight graphical modifications to make it look just a little bit sleeker, but they could have done so much more to it. The animation on the other hand is where this game comes into a world of its own – the over exaggerated tackles, the egotistical taunts and the impossible jukes are what make this game so god damn addictive and fun to play.
The audio is also top notch on this game, the various voice-overs sound awesome for the most part and for a game which uses the ‘F’ word more than Gordon Ramsey, it really is great to hear some of the taunts Midway has come up with. The on-field sounds are also unbelievably good, everything from the bone shattering tackles to the various taunts are all outrageously overblown but it just makes the game so much better.
Overall the game despite not having any next-gen graphics is still unbelievably addictive and one of, if not the funnest sporting titles on the 360 to date. The back breaking tackles, the countless taunts and the hilarious single player game modes make this game easily worth the £30-odd they are charging for it. If you want reality, graphics and official teams go for Madden, but if you want to have some fun, pull off impossible tackles and play with a ball smeared in butter then you simply need to remember three little words, Blitz: The League.
Originally Written By: Lee Matthews