Blitz: The League II Impressions

Posted October 19th, 2008 at 12:02 pm

The excessive nature of the original Blitz: The League turned me off from even wanting to try it. Despite that I heard some good things about the game so I decided to give Blitz: The League II a shot. While I don’t know if it has been specifically toned down from the original I didn’t get the same feeling about it. Maybe it was the marketing, or lack thereof this time around.

I tend to enjoy arcade style sports games as long as they meet the following criteria:

  1. They have to be accessible. It’s one thing to expect hardcore fans of sim games to learn intriquit control schemes and how to use the features but I’m not going to invest that time in an arcade game.
  2. There has to be some element of strategy involved, and it can’t just be something thrown in that makes things frustrating. The BIGS is a perfect example of how it should be done…Facebreaker and NBA Street not so much.
  3. It has to be fun. Ultimately that is the most important thing. There really isn’t a way to state how that is done. It just either ends up being fun or it doesn’t.

So how does Blitz: The League II fare in these areas? Continue on for my full thoughts on the game as well as some videos.

As to the three criteria I laid out for a game such as this I would say that Blitz succeeds (at least to an extent) at all of them. Factoring in the gameplay there are some issues there, most of which though I’ve been able to overlook. The Campaign mode has proven to be really enjoyable to play through.

When you start up a quick game you’re taken to a video explaining the Clash Meter and Unleashed. This is the strategic area of the game. Your meter increases by gaining yards or making big plays. Leading to the Unleashed when the meter is full including tokens which are gained by doing things like dirty hits and TD celebrations.

Holding the left trigger while on offense will take the game into slow motion. As a QB this gives you time to move around and find an open receiver or use the right analog to evade a sack. As a RB or WR it allows for time to concentrate on powerful stiff arms or more effective spin moves as well as making a big catch. On defense if you hold LT and hit the ball carrier they are more likely to lose stamina, get injured, or fumble the ball. The meter drains the longer you use Clash. When you have an Unleashed it gives you one shot at a big play, basically it is an automatic break of a tackle, evasion of a sack, or catch of a pass. It doesn’t always lead to a TD but it at least opens up an opportunity for it.

So that is where the strategy of the game comes in. When do you want to use your Clash and Unleashed? If you waste you may regret it later when you could’ve had it for a crucial situation. You also have to deal with the opposition using it on you. Wondering when they will and being prepared for it.

While I had a lot of fun with NFL Tour the only strategy that game really had was playing the clock. You basically wanted to make sure you had the last opportunity to score because in all likelihood it was going to come down to that. With Blitz you can actually play defense. 1st and 30 isn’t a gimme in this game. So while I’d still say it is an arcade game it isn’t so over the top ridiculous. It’s similar to The BIGS in that regard.

Campaign Mode
The story is pretty entertaining, the cut scenes in between games are actually really well done. I enjoyed the press conference at the start which is where you determine the positions you play (your guy plays both ways). I went with wide receiver and safety. There are more questions that follow which determine attribute boosts based on which answer you select.

The campaign mode is where Jay Mohr and Frank Caliendo come in. Mohr plays your agent and Caliendo does commentary. Most of the time he impersonates John Madden but I believe I even heard some Al Pacino. I have to say I’ve gotten a big kick out of the commentary and it’s neat that it is campaign mode only where those two come in.

They’ve done a good job mixing things up too. I’ve just won the Division 3 championship which means the team is moving up to Division 2. Now though (slight spoiler ahead) I’ve gone to jail and have to play in an inmate game. There are no helmets, its a 50 yard field, and there is no kicking. I just wonder why my guy was handed a helmet in the cut scene where he is forced to play in the game, when they don’t even wear helmets for it.

Online Play
Online performance is very good as I haven’t come across any traces of lag. I like that you’re able to play online with your campaign team. After selecting teams any stadium can be played in (hello Madden). I was planning on posting video of an online game but figured showing my ass getting kicked would be a little boring. It became clear to me that while I’ve improved significantly since I started playing I’ve still got a long way to go and haven’t figured everything out.

I didn’t have trouble finding opponents to play on the 360. The leaderboard is littered with users who’ve played just a handful or a single game though. That may be a sign that it will be more difficult to get online games in the weeks ahead.

Random Thoughts

  • I got comfortable with the controls quickly. That was an important feeling to have at the start.
  • Loading time is on the slow side. After selecting teams it takes you to either the Clash/Unleashed video or the game intro video. Whether you watch the video or skip it the game doesn’t start loading during the video. After playing the EA games where they have the interactive loading this feels dated.
  • The collision detection is probably the worst part of the game. If two players are engaged in an animation (like the ball carrier with a defender) players will go right through them. This has led to some big gains when I’ve tried to come in and hit the ball carrier but dove right through his body. As a safety that usually means he’s off to the races. I’ve found this to really hurt me a couple times each game.
  • There is some suction blocking and at times it seems impossible to get off a block especially downfield. Still those type of things haven’t really bothered me here, I just somewhat understand those type of issues are going to happen with a game like this. You can’t take it too seriously.
  • There are some animations that play out and take you out of the game. One that stands out is where a ball carrier gets hit and stumbles forward. You can’t hit them once that animation starts and all the players on the field stop playing before he’s even hit the ground.
  • For as fast as the action is during the game for some reason the kick returners feel really slow.
  • I love the game intros during campaign. They focus on the opposition and explain their team make-up. Usually it focuses on their star player. It is nice to have an idea of what you’re going up against since they are fictional teams in players.
  • I’m a little uneasy with the player models. They seem to be on the fat side. Maybe I missed it but I haven’t seen a way to change my player’s weight in campaign. A speedster WR/S that weighs 300 pounds???
  • I’ve finally started to get the hit targeting which happens when using clash and making a big hit. You can select the area of the body to target and you’ll injure the player depending on where you hit them.
  • I’m not sure whether I really like the FG kicking or if it’s just because I’m so tired of the FG kicking in other games. Here the game flashes up random buttons that you have to hit. It requires some concentration…if I miss one it usually means I’m going to screw up the following ones. The longer the kick needed the more buttons are involved. 3 buttons for an extra point, 5 for a kickoff, and 6 for a 50+ yard kick. If you have quick reflexes and know the controller well you shouldn’t have much trouble with it.
  • One thing that is great about licensed games is that you know the players, their skills, and how to utilize them. That is a problem with an unlicensed game in that you have no knowledge of the players. So while there are injuries and second stringers have to play I haven’t noticed much difference in performance level. Whether there is or not is very difficult to distinguish.
  • You get a chance to bet on the spread of your games in campaign. I like that, it adds more to the game than just winning. In a game like Blitz it is nice to have secondary goals. You also get that with what your player needs to do in some games in order to impress sponsors.
  • The juicing aspect of campaign is alright, I’m not sure strategically what people tend to do with them. I’ve gone for the more basic ones like giving my QB the one that drains clash slower.
  • I’ve enjoyed the late hits and beating the crap out of people. But I’ve already started to get a little tired of it. It just takes too much time and breaks the flow of the game since now it’s the same scenes I’ve gotten a bunch of times. But I feel obligated to do it since it beats stamina out of the player.
  • Does anyone know all the codes for the different TD celebrations? I’ve only been able to figure out two of them so far. My opponents online used a wide variety of them though. Some are pretty amusing.
  • The injury scenes are brutally awesome. Trust me…you don’t want to see the ruptured scrotum happen to you like I got in an online game last night.
  • The injury mini-games are okay. The needle one where you want to hit the target, and the closer you get the faster the player recovers, is alright. I still don’t get how you do the one where you pop a dislocation back in place.
  • The in-game cut scenes are a mixed bag. The injury ones, with players on the sideline getting a needle or getting cleared to go back in the game are cool. But the on-the-field ones are disappointing. This is mainly because I seem to get the same one over and over. Yes, “put a little more juice on it”, I know.
  • I like the varied playbooks by team. It really makes it feel like you’re playing with completely different teams even though you don’t know the players.
  • There is a terrible sound effect when the ball gets tipped or bounces on the ground when fumbled. It’s a “boing” which is really awkward in the context of everything else. I’m sure they could’ve found a better sound than that.
  • On the topic of fumbles the ball physics are pretty bad too. It’ll bounce once or twice and then just stick to the ground.
  • Players slip in bad weather games. Sometimes they’ll be running with no one around and they’ll fall. I’ve even had this happen to the player I’m controlling when I try and make a cut. (hello Madden)
  • Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Midway has decided not to release a demo. I actually think a demo would’ve done wonders for the game. It’s tough to justify a blind purchase of any game these days unless you already have a good idea you’re going to like it.

Whether this game is worth $60 to people is not something I’d be able to determine. But I can say that I’ve found it to meet my arcade game criteria and playing through the campaign has been a lot of fun. If you are at all intrigued by the game I definitely think it’s worth considering picking up.

Not sure why but the full game video stutters when embedded. So here is the link for the first half and for the second half. This is the Division 3 Championship game.