IGN Review of Blitz: The League
Blitz: The League is going next-gen. What could it mean? A Michael Irvin hookers and drug spree mini-game in "The White House?" A Maurice Clarett gun-running vehicular combat mode? Super Bowl ticket-scalping with Mike Tice? The sinful possibilities are endless. And with bad-boy linebacker Bill Romanowski on the cover, Blitz is bound to be badder than ever before.
Like Mike Nolan in the red-zone, I was wrong again. In its next-gen debut, Blitz: The League is almost an exact port of the current-generation game released a year ago. Check out what
J-Rob had to say back when Blitz was a buzzword.The HD upgrade and new animations and virtual Romo aren't enough to overcome the age of this arcade football title. While it's fun at times and it's arguably the best Blitz game yet, this HD current-gen title doesn't justify a purchase unless you haven't yet played the original and it's on sale. $49.99 is just too much for a plain-old port.
Hey, don't get me wrong. The presentation of this game is great. When EA secured the exclusive NFL license, Midway dropped a few F bombs and said, "Let's make Playmakers, the game." Not coincidentally, Midway laced the game with F-bombs, drugs and hookers and created something football fans have been craving for a while. Instead of a franchise mode, you play through a scandal-ridden story mode that goes a little something like this.
After losing the big game last season and being demoted to the third division (The NFL needs to do this to the Browns), your shady team owner decides to overhaul everything. Team name, logo, home city, stadium -- all gone. Instead, he decides that it's better for you to use a well-designed create-a-team feature to, um, create your own team. We went with the California Killers. Because killer rhyme with Miller.
Moving on, you'll be treated to a few cutscenes between league games that drive the story forward. Focusing on an offensive player you pick up in the draft (We went with a QB) and a veteran defensive player picked up via free agency, the story involves plenty of 'roids, hookers and encounters with cheerleaders. (We're trying to see how many times we can write "'roids and hookers" in one story). Off the field you can bet on your games as well as juice up your players using a variety of questionable substances, easily masked with the Wizzinator. We'll let you play through the story yourself, but know that it's basically the same as the current-gen offering. And if you've played that, you know that the writer, formerly of Playmakers, could have gone a lot more in depth with the script. Sadly, what could have been a gritty immersive story comes off as an afterthought.
On the field, this if Blitz. That means that the rubber band AI will constantly frustrate you as the game is entirely too easy and you win by 40, or the computer decides, simply, that it will not lose. Your team will mysteriously fumble away games. Opposing players will break 12 tackles en route to the endzone-- pretty good considering it's 8-on-8 football. In general, though, you can score almost at will, driving the length of the field in one or two plays.
Using the typical sprint button, you have your arsenal of spin, juke and power moves to aid you. On the other side of the ball, you have some of the most vicious tackles in sports. The League also features Clash, which is really the name of the game. Akin to bullet time, Clash slows the action so receivers can make amazing grabs, QBs can thread the needle at will, and backs can plow through the defenders. After you make a few special Clash moves, like juking a linebacker out of his shoes or ducking under a would-be sack, you fill up the Unleashed meter. Some of the Unleashed moves are ho-hum, but others are absolutely amazing and are sometimes the sole reason to keep playing the game. Triggering an Unleashed mode begins a quick cutscene in which your player does something amazing. If a receiver is covered and goes Unleashed, he makes an amazing leaping catch in traffic. A running back stiff-arms a defender into tomorrow. A linebacker rips off a receiver's helmet and beats him bloody. Awesome. The problem is that it's almost impossible to build your clash meter on defense, even after a great hit, while it only takes a big play on offense to fill your clash meter. And clash is cash in Blitz. Defense is just poorly balanced.
Every so often, these dirty hits result in bone-breaking injuries where a sweet x-ray machine pops up and the spine snaps in two. Usually it looks worse than it is and a player will be out anywhere from three plays to several games. Unless you juice.
In a cutscene that would make Barry Bonds blush, a trainer appears on the sideline with a giant syringe, ready to inject your problems away. Usually your player is ready to go the very next play, medical science be damned. Of course, you can get caught and fined by the league. A great design choice.
Visually, Blitz is a bland next-gen game. There's some nice energy in the trash-talking cutscenes, but the textures are average and the game looks little better than the Xbox version. The sound has also been ported right over, complete with an awesome array of profanity and a juiced-up crowd cheering its favorite players. Because no one knows these players and the story does little to make you care, the cheering doesn't really matter though.
Still, Blitz is best as a multiplayer game, and you are able to bring your created story team online as well -- a great touch.
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