Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Blitz: The League Impressions

It's great, and it's crap.

There you go. That describes Blitz: The League quite accurately in one sentence. And for me, it's a disappointing sentence.

Here's the thing. The fictional off-field world of Blitz is fun--lots of fun. It's sharply designed, it's edgy, and it's clever. The story line and dialogue are hokey, but everything else (like e-mail challenges, training decisions, pre-game videos, etc.) is exremely well done. It's an interesting, engrossing world.

This is a terrific football game--until you actually have to play football. That's when it crashes like the Hindenburg.

Sure, the game is titled Blitz: The League, but Midway never sold the on-field gameplay as being too much like Blitz. That was good, because I was tired of playing football with Power Rangers. We were all tired. Blitz was fun the first time, because it was something we hadn't seen before, but after that it just seemed stupid.

So the tack they took for marketing this game was that it was "the NFL that the NFL didn't want you to see." Well, that in no way describes the game. The game is the Blitz on-field engine, which is crap, with a storyline and franchise mode grafted on.

Why is the onfield engine crap? Well, it's thirty yards for a first down. Five minute quarters max. Teams go ahead by five with less than a minute left--and kick the extra point instead of going for two. Wild, game-changing plays happen totally at random and with controller slinging frequency. The ball physics are absolutely horrendous. There are more money plays than you could even count. "Bullet time" is your biggest offensive weapon.

In short, it's Blitz. Has it been changed? If it has, the effect is still the same--totally over the top, wildly random gameplay that in no way whatsoever resembles football.

Is it fun? Yes, for a few hours. The gameplay is crap, but the cut scenes during the game and the taunting are actually extraordinarily well done and reasonably authentic. It's a testament to the framework of the game that I wanted to keep playing just to keep progressing in the story. But it wasn't enough.

I didn't want entirely realistic football, and of course I didn't expect it in an eight-on-eight game. But I also didn't expect huge chunks of the old Blitz code to be used, code that should have been buried in the desert next to those E.T. cartridges. I would have been very happy with even somewhat more realistic gameplay, but that's not what we got.

Here's how this game is getting a bunch of 75-80 scores in reviews: onfield gameplay is 55. Off the field it's a 95. Average them.

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