Midway continues their investment in the alternative football franchise with Blitz II: The League. The bone breaking heavy hitter jumps into the world of next-gen gaming with improved features and a larger roster than before. If you’re getting a little sick of the traditional take on sports gaming have a look at Blitz II: The League.
Making a quality football game without the NFL licence is a tough job. Half the appeal of Madden is taking control of your favorite team and real-life personalities in game form. Combating the lack of NFL, Blitz II: The League takes the action far away from reality and then signs former New York Giants Linebacker, L.T. (Lawrence Taylor) to lend his likeness to the game. In Blitz's first effort in the next-generation Midway doesn’t shy away from controversy and returns with a pill popping, money-making version of football that looks at the dark side of the sport. Blitz II isn’t for the weak hearted who want to beat around the pig skin on the field, this is a bone-shattering over-the-top football experience.
I never had the pleasure of testing out the original Blitz when it was released, so I am happy to finally see what the Blitz franchise is all about. It’s a shallow pool when you look at the amount of alternative sports games that don’t have cartoonish characters running around. Blitz II reminds me of the early days when games like Blitz came out as frequently almost as much as the real-life licensed products. There is nothing wrong with NFL products, but once and a while it’s nice to break away from the mould and experience the sport in a different light. If this sounds interesting then you might be a prime candidate for the Blitz's fantasy league.
Blitz II follows standard American football rules for its base gameplay with a seven on seven formula. Then it takes those rules and amps up its attitude. Compared to Madden, Blitz is a big bad Rottweiler and Madden is a small chirping poodle. In Madden you have hits and even big hits, but in Blitz you have bigger and badder hits that go into an x-ray vision animation that shows bones breaking or tendents snapping. In Blitz you don’t want a friendly game of football, you want to win at any costs which involves juicing up and knocking a few heads.
Blitz II might not be politically correct with its free use of illegal substances and in game betting. Blitz actually glorifies drug use and excessive violence. When you are injured on the field you are able to give your player a shot of adrenaline to boost his statistics to get him back into the game after being injured, and if its not the needle you will be slipping bones back into their joints. All the on-field healing is hands on so I hope you are not squeamish of needles. Hitting the other teams star player is a great way to wear down the team moral and take the opponent off their game plan. Besides targeting the star player you can even added extra damage on the field by giving a hit foe a little more smack after the whistle has blown. In takedowns you can also have an opportunity to target a body part on the victim by hitting the button on the corresponding part. This is great to take a runner out of his game or a target the head in hopes for a concussion. By the end of one game you’ll likely to be beaten a bruised up pretty bad on the gridiron. Injuries and bad hits happen a lot so do be thrown off if your team is getting bashed around. Just shoot em’ up and get them back on the field.
The story mode in Blitz II is pretty involved with cover boy Lawrence Taylor providing his likeness and voice talent. The story starts off as your player being an up-and-coming superstar that is going to help the troubled football league pull up its profits and become a main player. Instantly the story reminds me of a conversation someone could have been having with former football league hopeful, Vince McMahon. The drama continues in the story mode that involves the owner of the franchise, your top dollar agent, and the ladies that come with being a famous star. Blitz II does a great job of bringing the player into its seedy world with enough motivators to make you play through the campaign mode. The storytelling is not groundbreaking by any means, but it’s a nice added touch to the core gameplay. If you’re not into the campaign or want a break from the drama you can play online, in single games, tournaments, or enjoy a few exploitive mini-games.
Creating your player in the campaign mode is done through a series of questions made up as a mock interview session with the press. By answering a series of questions at the interview you will pick your offensive and defensive positions and rearrange your statistics according to your answers. It is actually quite interesting and funny to run through the creations selection that I did it for fun a few times. From there you will get to create your own custom team from its logo and home town to its home and away team outfits. Once your character has been named and stated up your into put into Blitz’s world of brutality.
During the campaign you will also objectives that pop up from time to time that include impressing sponsors, or hitching up with one of the ladies. I found the challenges to be a little tough, but that could be because I was focusing on them too much. Besides scoring points on the field, or in the bedroom you will also collect cash after each game according to your performance on the field. This money can be used to purchase upgrades in your locker room like new training equipment, or more staff members. You can also go to your local pharmacy of locker room no-no’s and juice up your team in preparation for the next round. Statistics are also available along with a sponsorship and girlfriend selection. All the menus are clean cut and you should have no problem finding your way around the game.
Blitz II has its fair share of hardcore hitting, but it also has a comedic side which comes in the end zone. When you get a touchdown you have a chance to enter a four button code to start an end zone celebration animation. These vary from the typical Ball Spike to more involved moves like Get Down, Nut Shot and Dance Fever. The teams also share this side of humour which can be seen in the documentary styled clips that play before you start a game with a new team. In Blitz you will face teams with names like the Cleveland Steamers, LA. Riot and the Mexico City Aztecs. Canada is also represented in the locals you can pick and the pre-made teams. Look for Toronto, Vancouver, Quebec and more.
The Clash meter is an important factor in Blitz II. This is like an adrenaline gage of sorts that powers up when you successful gain yardage, or perform special moves. When you clash meter is filled you will become even deadlier when you decide to switch it on. Clash can be easily turned off and on a will and will give you a matrix styled slow down of time giving you more time to throw a ball or deke out your opponents. On defense Clash can be used to deliver those bone shattering moves that include deadly slams and helmet ripping tosses. The Clash meter is constantly in flux through the quarters of a game and is one of most important factors that makes Blitz feel different from alternative football games in the past.
The only major issue with the gameplay is the befuddled inconsistency of the artificial intelligence and amount of injuries per game. Blitz II starts out easy enough, however it amps up the difficulty quality and not in a logical way. You really can control too many of the factors that will cause your players, or the other teams players to fumble the ball, or make a wildly crazy interception. Sure there are stats and rules in place, but they all seem to be a little punch-drunk. Strange things can happen during a game which adds a certain degree of excitement with an unknown factor in the mix. I guess in the world of junkie athletes this is common place. Before Blitz III hits the shelves lets hope they make the routines a little more dependable.
The graphic quality in Blitz II is substantial, but not impressive. The amalgamative package of contact animations and washed out colours are only good enough to get by. As a total package Blitz II is solid enough, however more development could have gone in to the textures, character modeling and arena quality. Things can get a little blocky at times, however this doesn’t affect the framerate, or the gameplay by any means. The animations are hefty and look good in the action, but start to wear a little thin when you see the same one over and over. What saves Blitz II are the eye-popping sounds when you make contact and the screen flashes to the x-ray close up of an injury. Blitz II is brutally authentic in showing the reality of broken body parts making the in-game contact feel like it really hurts. I know you’ll have a few “ooohhh” moments while watching the Blitz II in action. Aside from the hits the audio production is again, substantial. The commentary track isn’t the best, but doesn’t over do it and comes in with a few clever lines now and again. Blitz II: The League obviously has a few limitations thankfully none of them really make the game any less enjoyable.
If you are looking for an alternative to Madden, Blitz II: The League has enough punch to make it worth the purchase. It’s not going to replace the ultra high gloss of its competitors, but it is an original take on the dark side of sporting. The campaign mode featuring L.T. is a lot of fun with enough intrigue that you'll want to throw it a few passes. Besides the muddled artificial intelligence and average graphics, Midway has shown that Blitz is a franchise player. You don't have to be a football junkie to enjoy the bone crunching hits in Blitz II: The League, there is something here for every level of football fan who wants to let loose some and enjoy their own aggressive tendencies.
Gameplay: 7, Graphics:7, Sound:7.5, Innovation:7, Mojo:8.5 Final: 7.4 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 10.22.08