Publisher: Midway Games
Developer: Midway Games
Release Date: October 30, 2006
Midway's Blitz is back and hitting the next-gen console world with a hard tackle. With bad-boy linebacker Bill Romanowski gracing the cover and Lawrence Taylor returning, Blitz: The League leaves behind NFL licensing in favor of a fake league. Consequently, Blitz has the freedom of adding in dirty little secrets of players' lives, like steroids, gambling, and hook-ups with cheerleaders. It's a fun game to play, despite its flaws, with eight-on-eight action, 30 yard downs, and the kinds of insane hits and blows that gave Blitz its different feel.
Blitz: The League is really just a port of the PS2/Xbox version that was released a year ago. With a high-definition upgrade and a few new animations, this really isn't a new game in any sense, but that doesn't mean it doesn't pack in the fun. Once you get the controls down, playing is quite fast and fun. The original Xbox version had decent sales despite the weak media response, so it naturally warranted a sequel. The problem is, at its core, Blitz: The League is the same game as its predecessor; it even shares the same name, which is a slightly odd and questionable move.
The training missions consisted of very simple tasks, such as passing, juking, and getting into the end zone, but it was a real hassle to complete. Doing one tiny thing wrong could throw you off, which could result in repeating the exercise several times. I found this part to be a bit tedious, as I just needed to learn the controls, rather than working on performing a passing play for the better part of an hour.
One major gripe I had with Blitz was the A.I., which was rather uneven and temperamental. The computer-controlled team had the rather annoying habit of coming out of nowhere and sacking my team; perhaps it was my offensive line, but this occurred a lot, and it was frustrating, to say the least. On the flip side, there were many times when the A.I. seemed too darned easy, and I was able to break through a dozen tackles to score a touchdown with relative ease. It seemed like the computer was a finicky child whose mood would change at any time that it willed, and while this was annoying, it didn't detract too much from the rest of the gameplay.
Instead of a career mode, you get to play through a rather weak storyline filled with f-bombs, drugs, hookers, and an injury or two. It starts off with your team getting demoted to the third division, and your manager decides to scrap everything – the hometown, stadium, team name, and logo. It sets the stage for you to build your own team from scratch, with a rather nice create-a-team feature. Some cut scenes follow, which focus on an offensive player you selected in the draft, and a defensive player you picked up via free agency. This moves the story along, with the usual hookers, 'roid pumping, and gambling fun. Off the field, you can bet on your games and juice up your players with a number of questionable substances.
Although the story was penned by the writer of ESPN's "Playmakers" series, Blitz's narrative remains rather weak. One would expect that a crew who writes for a television series could come up with a more in-depth story. The plot should have been tough-as-nails and gritty enough to immerse the player, but unfortunately, it ends up being more of an afterthought than anything else.
While the classic turbo meter is still utilized, Blitz has a different take on "Clash" than other football games. When you're on offense and activate the Clash mode, the defense slows down to a near standstill, and all of your moves receive a boost, from running to passing and performing jukes. While on defense, activating Clash will yield some Dirty Hits that will stop any opposing team member in his tracks, cause fumbles, and reduce the other team's stamina. Using the Clash move will also net you some points that fill up the Unleash bar.
Tokens can be earned for almost anything, from evading a rush, landing late hits, giving someone a long-term injury, or knocking out the team captain. Once six tokens are gathered, the Clash meter changes into the Unleash meter, which is akin to "Gamebreaker" moves in EA titles. For an offensive play, the QB or receiver can sidestep any tackle by holding down the left trigger, or execute an Unleash catch by pressing the Y button, which means you automatically catch the ball – perfect for an end zone throw. For a defensive Unleash play, injuries and fumbles are virtually guaranteed results of Dirty Hits.
While all of these features make for some enjoyable gameplay, they were present in the game released last year for previous-generation consoles, so what's been added to justify purchasing this iteration? Voiced by Bill Romanowski, Bruno Battaglia is a new personality who adds some intensity – and insanity – to the game. You have some more team customization options, such as cities and logos, as well as new equipment to make your team look even more intimidating. More evasion techniques and newer graphics have also been added to this offering, and the online play allows you to take your created team online with you.
Even if you played the original version, Blitz: The League for the X360 is still a fun time. The arcade-style action and intense online play eclipse the slightly stale story mode to give you a gameplay experience that is entertaining at any time.
All in all, Blitz: The League is a pretty solid title and is perfect for anyone looking for a different kind of football. It's got a nice edge that makes it stand out from the more generic football offerings, like Madden. It gives you the chance to deliver some bone-shattering hits while still trying to outsmart the A.I. and win the game. Even though it's basically a port with some additional features, Blitz still has addictive and intuitive gameplay that you can pick up time and time again. If you're into the arcade football scene, steroids, jarring damage, and a hooker or two, you should give this game a shot.
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