STAFF REVIEW of Blitz: The League 2 (Xbox 360)

Monday, October 27, 2008.
by Rick Wallace

Blitz: The League 2 Box art Its 4th and 2 on the 2 yard line with just over 20 seconds left in the championship game and you trail by 3. Do you depend on the league star whom has brought you to this point to pound it in for the win, or do you kick the 3 and move onto overtime? This is just one of the many decisions that may come to your attention while playing throughout the campaign of Blitz The League 2. Midway brings us the second installment of the series, and they have delivered a solid and fun football experience that any football fan could enjoy. Blitz has over the top tackling, player movements and plenty of content that would make the NFL rules committee cringe. The Blitz series is in many ways is the evil step sister of the NFL where you will find many of the things that really do go on in real life NFL day to day operations such as juicing, player altercations and ratings boosting.

Lawrence Taylor returns as the cover boy and one of the primary characters in the campaign mode, but he isn't the only big name you'll run across playing the game. One of the first things you will notice is the color commentary. Why that sounds like John Madden! Um, wait. Yeah, it sounds like John Madden but its comedic genius and impressionist Frank Caliendo doing his John Madden impression and frankly ? no pun intended ? its quite hilarious. Another comedian/actor, Jay Mohr, lends his vocals to the game as well playing as your agent in Campaign Mode. He'll also make a cameo as the Prison warden later in the story, but we'll just leave it at that so we don't give away any of the storyline.

The campaign storyline comes straight from the write of the hit series The Playmakers which appeared on ESPN briefly until the NFL came along a flexed it's muscle to get the show off the air. Blitz has everything in common with Playmakers and touches on all the subjects that the NFL does not want you hear about such as the scandals, doping and tampering schemes to generate more revenue for the league. My hats off to the campaign mode and the story that entails, as it will not only keep you entertained but it will also make you think about the real world quite a bit and what things may actually take place.

Basically in campaign mode, you play the role of the next big thing coming out of college nicknamed Franchise. You played high school ball and college ball in your home town and now your desire is to play for the hometown professional team as well, but you have been drafted by the LA Riot. You tell the commissioner that you will not be playing for the Riot and that you will only play for the local team, which you create. So the drama begins and the plot thickens as the commissioner's primary objective is to make the most money for the league he can with little regard to player wants and needs. This storyline takes twists and turns and Lawrence Taylor, whom plays the role of the old league veteran on his way out, plays a a large part in the storyline as well.

As you proceed through the story, you'll start in Division 3 and play against other Division 3 teams on your way to a championship. You'll have a certain number of games to win in order to make the championship game which will be displayed on the main menu screen before each game. As you win a championship, you'll then move up a division where you''ll face harder opponents and stronger players. Of course your players gets better with each game played based on your performance. You'll earn sponsors for the team which will reward you new and better equipment that will give you boosts in certain aspects of the game. You'll also have the ability to train players and your superstar before each game increasing their overall rating which in turn increases your overall team rating.

There are many mini games scattered throughout the game as well both as stand alone games and moments within campaign games. One such mini game would be the ability to administer medical aid to your injured players. You'll have a large circle which represents the general area of the injury with a bullseye at the exact location of the injury. As the player grimaces around in pain you'll have to inject them with the juice or painkiller and you goal is to get as close to the bullseye as you can. Easier said than done. The closer you get to the bullseye will result in less time off due to the injury. The play could miss one play or several plays dependent upon your success. Another mini game within the game is the ability to set broken bones. You'll be asked to move both the left and right stick to a reference point or at least as close as you can. Once again, the closer you get the better results you have and the quicker your player can return to the playing field.

As I initially stated, Blitz is all about over the top hits, maneuvers and injuries. You'll earn power ups with big plays and vicious hits that will increase your Unleashed Meter. This meter allows you to slow down time and lay out big hits on your opponent whether on offense or defense. If you completely fill the meter, you'll be able to pull of a special Unleashed maneuver which can result in turnovers on defense or bone crunching stiff arms on offense. Its all about stamina in this game and the more your player has the better he will perform. You'll lose stamina for getting steamrolled by opposing offenses, or taking late or dirty hits. In the same regard you can take away stamina from your opponent with the same maneuvers.

Campaign mode is definitely worth a play through for the storyline alone. But you'll find a surprisingly deeper game than expected with upgrade options by the use of juicing. Juicing is the use of performance enhancing drugs and you can combine them to make some powerful combinations for the period of one game for any player on your team including the Franchise. There are repercussions such as increased injury rate for juicing up a player to gain advantage in a certain aspect of the game.

Aside from Campaign mode there are 6 bonus game modes to play. 2 of the game modes must be unlocked to play. There is bonus content on the disc such as concept art, campaign cut scenes, game trailers and video shoots of game production. You'll have to check some of these out especially the one with Frank Caliendo and Jay Mohr talking about their involvement.

There is online play and from what I played it seemed fairly lag free. There really isn't anything out of the norm in the online play to discuss as its just like playing a quick play game or a campaign mode game but against a real person. Of course there are leaderboards and you can play the mini games online as well. You'll have the ability to use any team online as well as any user created team. There is an option when creating a match to allow user created teams or not.

Gameplay is fairly easy to pick up and play successfully against the computer. The fast pace of the game will at times leave you trying to figure out which guy you are or who has the ball when on defense, but overall its still a decent control scheme and is fairly fluid in the game when make cuts, jumps, tackles, etc.

Graphically speaking the game looks very good and has great weather effect. The puddling on the field from the heavy rains looks great and the field seems to gather snow cover throughout the game in snowy games. The player models are well done and the facial expressions seem to capture the moment on the field whether it be an injury or a beat down. The cut scenes are fairly well done and the campaign cut scenes really add to the drama unfolding in the storyline.

The sounds in the game fit quite perfectly and the mockery they make of John Madden as an announcer is actually quite hilarious at times. The language in the game can get a bit extreme for my taste, but the game specifically carries a rating that allows for that content. Also you have to remember that this storyline was written by the writer of The Playmakers which pushed all kinds of limits. There is a wide variety of rock and hip hop to please both crowds and add atmosphere to the game.

One downside to the game would have to be the loading times before each game. Sometimes it seemed like I sat there for 2 minutes or so before actually having an offline game begin. Sure they have some fact about the league and players for you to read while waiting, but after a few games those facts just are not interesting anymore and they also get very repetitive.

Overall, the bottom line is Blitz the League 2 is a very fin game as the Blitz series always has been. In no way should it be considered a football sim or even close to that for that matter. Its an over the top game that should be enjoyed for being just that and pushing the limits of football to the extreme. I would have rather watched a real life Blitz League than had to suffer through Vince McMahon's XFL endeavor. If you are a straight up sim football player than you probably won't find much fun in this game and find yourself frustrated. But if you love the game of football period and have enjoyed previous versions of the Blitz series then you should thoroughly enjoy this game. Great campaign mode, plenty of unlockables, and lots of mini games should keep a person interested for quite a while. Do your self a favor and at least rent this one if you love football and you may find that its really enjoyable. With the budget title price tag, many folks will probably want to pick this one up though.

I would like to see a little more of a long standings campaign mode through several years rather than just playing through the 3 division levels. Maybe more character development included. The ability to create your own stadiums from scratch would be great as well, or even downloadable new stadiums. Still a very fun game though.

Overall: 7.9 / 10
Gameplay: 7.7 / 10
Visuals: 8.3 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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