|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Midway Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Midway Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 13, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Pete Richards
Since losing its NFL license in 2004, Midway hasnt stopped making Blitz titles, but redefines them with even more violence, controversy, and Mature content than the NFL would ever allow. 2005 saw the first Blitz title without NFL involvement, which jabbed at the league and loosely mocked the actual corruption that underlies it. Blitz: The League II takes things even further with more vulgarity, drug use, and humor than its predecessor. Midway continues to offer its unique, controversial take on pro football to rival the competition without all the fancy jerseys and big names from the league that revoked their license.
The original gridiron Blitz football game is back with a few tweaks to its bone-snapping eight-on-eight. Though the NFL Street series brings a similar arcade style, nothing is meaner or more violent than Blitzs comparable cartoon-like aesthetic, over-the-top animations, loud music, and tough guy posturing.
The difference between Blitz and any other arcade football title is the in-depth storyline that surrounds the game in Campaign Mode. Parodying the NFL (a little bitterness, perhaps?), Midway continues its satirical yet dark storyline that makes full use of the games Mature rating. The League II tells the story of a corrupt football league and a dim-witted rookie nicknamed The Franchise, who youll be playing as. Disappointingly, you wont be able to change any physical attributes, just athletic abilities when starting up. Youll name your character to represent The Franchise as well as your own team, which will be continually referred to as Franchises Team.
Foul language runs rampant throughout the campaign, which is full of humorous plot twists and picks up where the last game left off with former quarterback Mike Mexico and defensive end Jacob Williams serving time in prison together for running an illegal gambling operation alluding to Michael Vicks dog fighting scandal situation. Lawrence Taylor returns to lend his voice for league figurehead and resident bad guy Quentin Sands of the New York Nightmare, Jay Mohr voices The Agent, and the wildly entertaining Frank Caliendo of Mad TV plays The Warden, commentating each game in his famous John Madden impersonation.
Five new expansions join The League this year as Los Angeles Riot, Houston Riders, Vancouver Beavers, Milwaukee Hounds, and Atlanta 404 all join the fray with their own home stadiums as well. There are some new functions given to the similar style of gameplay from the original Blitz: The League, most notably the newly implemented Precision Aim Tackling system. The new feature is actually one of the best aspects of the game, allowing you to focus your tackle on a specific body part such as the knee, shoulder, or back to cause a serious injury. The system has some depth to it as well. You can target a number of areas of the body, all of which come complete with a bloody animation. Several injuries seem to occur per game, and the camera focuses on them by zooming in to show the internal damage with a slo-mo X-Ray cutscene complete with splattering blood. Target the ball-carriers forearm to watch it snap in half, or target his nether-regions to cause a ruptured scrotum and an animation that looks as graphic as it sounds.
One of the biggest selling points of The League II is the amount of injuries that have been turned up for in-game action. But just as easy as it is to cause a serious injury, the opponent is also given the opportunity to repair injuries manually using the analog sticks to perform various treatments like guiding steroid injections on the sidelines or violently snapping bones and joints back into place. Drug use becomes a big part of the game, as players juice up to gain strength and stamina. But, with drug use comes consequences, as hopped-up athletes are more prone to injury. Its a completely unique feature for a football game, as Blitz attempts to be anything but your average title with a dab of shock value. Unfortunately, its also pretty unentertaining. Not only does the physical act of injecting performance enhancing drugs become boring, but the somewhat distasteful humor is quickly lost after the first few times seeing athletes being treated like animals and springing into roid rage. Fortunately, the injury mini-games dont pop up too frequently to overshadow the meat and bones of the football mechanics that ultimately determine how fun this game is to play.