What do you get when you strip the NFL license away from a pigskin game and throw in hookers, drugs, and tons of broken bones? You get Midway’s Blitz: The League, which is now available on the Xbox 360. Now you may be wondering if this port is really next-gen worthy or simply an excuse to sell the same game again, but rest assured I am here to debunk the rumors and win a Division title all in the same review. So join me as I dive into the seedy underworld of football, also known as Blitz: The League for the Xbox 360.
The first and most obvious upgrade is the visuals. Now don’t get me wrong this game looked fantastic on the original Xbox but seeing this game in HD really brings out all the little details such as heat waves in Arizona and the blocky backsides of the low polygon cheerleaders. While the upgrade to true HD does enhance the experience the game is still the same basic package you played on the previous consoles. There are a few new animations and the infamous Bill Romanowski makes an appearance in all of his glory, but if you have already bought a ticket to this game, there isn’t much here to warrant a repeat performance.
Nothing is sacred, not even peeking at the opposing team’s playbook
With that said let’s assume for the moment that you haven’t already played the original game. If this is the case now is the best chance to enjoy this incredibly fun and very well put together take on the game of football. When EA secured the exclusive license to the NFL most companies simply folded, but not Midway. They took it to the next level and decided to create a game that displayed the dark side of the sport. With an intriguing storyline, tons of options and great presentation Blitz: The League is an experience every gamer owes it to themselves to play.
The storyline revolves around a team that lost the big game in the previous season and is demoted to the third division. Your scandalous team owner decides it is time to rebuild which allows you to create a brand new team from scratch deciding on everything from your home city to the color of your uniforms. The possibilities are endless and just imagine dropping F-bombs before the snap while sporting those nice new pink socks and purple helmets as the San Francisco Fruits.
Once your team is ready to go you will begin your climb to the top of the league. The story is progressed with cut scenes every few games that is ironically written by the same man who brought you the controversial show Playmakers. During the season you can train your players for improved stats such as ball handling and arm strength as well as researching new ways to “juice” your player on the field. That’s right ladies and gents this game completely ignores the league’s substance abuse policy on steroids and actually encourage that you use them to keep your players on the field.
Jones finally decided to let the world see his Wii
On the field the gameplay is pure, unadulterated Blitz. What this means is that you will have eight players on the field and tons of points on the scoreboard. The frustrating AI is also present. It seems that every game is either a blow-out or the computer will simply not let you win. This becomes more frustrating when playing the Campaign mode where when the AI is on its game you will be dropping plenty of F-bombs yourself.
The mechanics of the game are pure arcade complete with a sprint button and tons of over the top moves on both sides of the ball. Pulling the left trigger now and you can enter a sort of bullet time mode that allows you to execute bone-crunching stiff arms on offense and injury inducing tackles on defense. This mode can also be triggered when launching a pass for a Clash Catch. These passes are almost impossible to intercept and you can even manually catch the ball by pressing Y. This can also be used to evade oncoming defenders as the QB so in essence this feature will save your ass more often than not.
Of course Blitz is best played with friends and this iteration is no exception. With the glory of Xbox Live you can now take the battle online and even with your created team which is a very welcome feature. There is even an achievement that you can earn that will leave you “itching for more” which funny enough is worth a gamerscore of 69 points; nice touch. The downfall though is that you can only play with one other person both online and off which is a curious decision as having 4-8 players at the same time would make for some truly chaotic action, especially on Live.
I swear it’s only a flu shot
Like I mentioned earlier the visuals aren’t going to win any awards for being next-gen, but they get the job done. The audio however is excellent and chock full of more profanity than an episode of The Sopranos. The hits are explosive and the ambience is great, but it is curious that the fans seem to cheer for the wrong team sometimes and some of the dialogue is cheesy at best. Overall the game’s presentation is very well done and deserves to be praised.
If you already own a copy of this game on the original Xbox there really isn’t enough here to warrant a second purchase. However if this is your first experience with Blitz you can’t go wrong with the 360 iteration. Xbox Live play and addictive Achievements round out the incredible gameplay and make this game a must own for anyone who enjoys some good old fashioned hard-nosed football. If Midway can up the ante visually on the next outing this game could easily become my favorite pigskin endeavor currently on the market.