PS2 REVIEW: BLITZ: THE LEAGUE

Blitz: The League is not exactly Grand Theft Auto 3 but it's headed in the right (or is that "wrong?") direction.

As an unlicensed game, Blitz gets away with some irreverent situations including steroid use, hookers, swearing, betting and showing your ass to the crowd. On the surface, some of these features appear to be added just for shock value but some are actually imbedded into the gameplay and are as important to winning a game as kicking a successful field goal.

In some respects the gameplay simulates the actual activity surrounding the sport of football better than the squeaky clean licensed version where the only grit you'll see is on the grid. Blitz brings a more human element to the sport, one that is a welcome change. From conservative to controversial. That's my kind of game.

But just how is the actual core of the gameplay? We've already got a handful of boisterous GTA games to deal with such questionable subject matter. Does this really need to be projected onto a football game? Why not? It's only a game after all.

The core gameplay is more arcade than sim. It's fun, fast and furious but it lacks the kind of depth you would find in Madden. Taken as is, it's a great alternative to serious sports titles and should attract gamers that aren't particularly interested in the genre. With various "supermoves" it's easy to kick your opponent's ass. Maybe too easy because once you find the key you will be able to get that ball to do your bidding virtually every time you get your hands on it. You can also thank the lazy offense that just doesn't care about getting their hands on it.

The game features straight, eight-on-eight play. The on-field view is clear and clean. Moves such as Turbo and Clash make short work of scoring big. Press the Turbo button to make your player run like the wind. This can also be facilitated by injecting him with "juice," specifically designed to enhance his performance. Once a player has the ball you can engage the Clash Mode which is a form of bullet time that slams the onscreen action into slow motion with the exception of your player. This indicates that he's "in the zone," and is virtually unstoppable. The meter won't run out of juice either since it's replenished by such super plays.

Using the Unleash move you can really inflict some damage on your opponents by kicking and tackling them with the intention of breaking their legs of necks. The same will likely happen to your players and you can relive the experience through an X-ray replay which shows you in gory detail just how the bones have been snapped. Expect lots of twisted limbs, blood and some really powerful thuds.

Plenty of options let you tailor the experience to your liking although you will have to experiment with different features to see how they all intertwine. The jerseys and helmets and such are purely cosmetic but whom you pick for a head coach and a team doctor will affect your team in different ways. The AI is somewhat unbalanced in that it will try to catch up to your score near the end of the game. When a weak team suddenly becomes great in the last minute of the game you know that something's wrong. Fortunately you can enjoy a more natural game online against another human opponent. The online play is solid but it still lacks depth and won't lead to a lot of replay value.

As hilarious as the cutscenes are there just aren't enough of them. The story is told but I just want a little more elaboration. The graphics are excellent and the animation is superb. Voice acting is good but it's done with tongue in cheek. Overall the production values are fantastic. It's just too bad the gameplay wasn't more sophisticated.

I sure applaud any game that doesn't take itself too seriously, especially a sports game. I find it ironic that what is essentially a game itself, is taken so seriously by players and fans alike. At least Blitz puts some fun back in the sport, however temporarily. Recommended for a rental.

Preview By Devin
The big, bad Electronic Arts machine went all out and bought up all the NFL licenses, leaving game developers all alone and with nothing in the arena of football video games. What an unfortunate series of events, as football is the most popular sport in the US today and also possesses a huge market. And while companies like 2K Sports ran to the corner and cried, Midway stood tall with their chins held high while singing Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gunna Take It!"

By now, I'm sure you're asking "What the hell can Midway do without an NFL license?" Anything and everything baby.

Even though we don't know much about the teams and players in the game, Vaughn has already touched up on the game's story, so we're going to take a look at some of the new gameplay features that you won't find in the ultra realistic Madden 06.

"He's on fire!" Well, not anymore. Midway has stripped Blitz of its On Fire mode and replaced it with a Clash Meter. The Clash Meter and its effects vary depending on what side of the ball you're on. When you complete long passes or some amazing plays on offense, you gain momentum in your Clash Meter. Get some sacks or big hits on D, and your Clash Meter increases. Now once your Clash Meter is full, if you're on D you'll have the ability to unleash a devastating hit with the guarantee of an injury to the player you whack. And if you use the Clash Meter with your QB, you will enter the Matrix like Bullet Time, which ends up making your entire offense a bit more aware. Your QB will throw more accurate passes and will also be able to avoid hits much easier as well. Be warned, the Clash Meter doesn't last very long so you're not going to be able to rely on it to make huge plays each down.

Now we take a look at the realism aspect of Blitz. In Blitz history, realism was never a key factor due to the game being the NFL's arcade flagship. And now without the weight of the NFL on its shoulders, Blitz has the freedom to explore… drugs. Yes drugs. When a player gets injured, you'll have the option of either sitting the said gimp or juicing him up to keep him out on the field.

A question entered my mind with that feature, "If you keep pumping a player full of drugs, will it have an ever lasting effect, with maybe his knee becoming so shot he won't walk ever again?" I think it's a fair question; however that sort of topic has yet to be covered in Blitz, so we're a bit unsure of that. What we do know is that, such as real life, your players can under go random drug tests. If your player gets caught, expect him to miss a game, and expect to receive a hefty fine.

Oh yes, money will be involved. And how do we earn money? Gambling my friends, gambling. Gambling actually weighs in on the story as well. Before certain games an opposing player might come up to you saying you can't achieve a certain goal against his team (such as rushing for 200 yards). You can then put money on the fact that you can run all over his team and their grandmothers, bringing a sort of role playing aspect to Blitz. Of course if you meet the goal, you win your cash.

So in the end, Blitz offers up not only some very interesting gameplay and storyline features, but also some really awesome graphics. If you're a gamer like me, and you're more of a pick up and go kind of person, Blitz: The League is definitely the way to go. Look for it in October of 2K5.

Features:

  • REALISTIC INJURIES - Gruesome on-field injuries/animations such as: bones snapping, skulls crushing and modest amounts of blood resulting; Severe and career ending injuries that might involve excessive amounts of blood.
  • STORY MODE - For the first time in a sports game, Blitz: The League explores the on-field fury, off-field problems, and front office politics permeating professional football. From Peter Egan, writer of ESPN’s Playmakers; Take the helm of a downtrodden football franchise, retool the players and coaching staff, and guide them to the championship.
  • GAMEPLAY CLASHES - For the first time in a football game, “get in the zone” real-time! When this mode is triggered, the on-field action slows and the players can pull off amazing and game-changing moves. If enough moves are accomplished in succession a meter is filled unlocking the ultimate Unleash move.
  • INTENSE ON-THE-FIELD ATMOSPHERE -This game isn’t glitzy and glamorous like the ready for primetime, licensed sports video game products. Leave the boring TV booth behind and get down on the field with revolutionary movie-style presentation.
  • HEAD-TO-HEAD ONLINE PLAY - Players can bash and bleed each other online, complete with headset support on both the PS2 and Xbox Live.
Preview By Vaughn

With Electronic Arts attempting to snatch up the rights for the entire NFL, other football games developers Visual Concepts (Sega) and Midway (Blitz) must be trembling with fear.

Well maybe not the gang at Midway.

Midway Games announced today the development of Blitz: Playmakers, a new, unlicensed videogame exposing the harsh realism and troubling, behind-the-scenes stories of a fictional professional football league. Blitz: Playmakers has been in development at Midway’s Chicago studio for the past year in collaboration with a writer from ESPN’s controversial "Playmakers" TV series. Blitz: Playmakers goes behind the glitz and glamour of the game through a revolutionary campaign mode that explores the on-field violence, off-field fallout and front-office politics of professional football. Blitz: Playmakers is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2005 on multiple videogame console platforms.

"Midway's Chicago studio has laid the foundation over the past year for what is the ultimate alternative to watered down NFL sanctioned football games," said Steve Allison, chief marketing officer of Midway. "No longer bound to the NFL license, there will be no league restrictions on content and gamers will finally experience what makes playing a football videogame really fun: off-field controversies, dirty hits, excessive celebrations and much more. Blitz: Playmakers buyers will be assured of one thing - our game will include all the gameplay and fun the NFL won’t allow."

Blitz: Playmakers will feature a powerful story mode that, for the first time ever in a football videogame, explores the realism, lifestyle and drama found in professional football. Players will take the helm of a downtrodden football franchise and retool the players and coaching staff in a quest to guide them to the league championship. Additional features include intense multiplayer action with head-to head online play and complete customization of players, teams, stadiums and more.

System: Xbox (shown), PS2
Dev: Midway
Pub: Midway
Release: Oct 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.0
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
3.0
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
2.5