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Blitz II: The League


A few years ago Midway revived its moderately popular Blitz franchise. If you're a football fan and you recall the glory days of the arcade then you undoubtedly dropped a fair amount of quarters on the earlier games in the series. The home version on the next wave of consoles proved to be a lightly entertaining experience that may have been fun for a while, but ultimately it wasn't enough to dethrone the likes of Madden. Then again, I suppose it was never meant to do that. Blitz: The League presented a parody of the NFL with fictional teams, over-the-top violence, and a single player story that revolved around drugs, sex, and extortion.

Midway recently released a sequel and once again it features a tale about drugs, sex, and blood set amidst the backdrop of American football. Like the original League, this one offends sensibilities, features a lame story, pokes fun at the NFL, and bends the rules of football to the extreme. You'll find yourself wanting to skip the ridiculous cut scenes and get back onto the field in between just about every game. Blitz once again offers a fun time, but it's a limited one with flaws that the original had so it doesn't feel like a true sequel.

Gameplay


If you played the first Blitz: The League then you already know what to expect with the sequel, because for all intents and purposes it's the same game. The sport of football is stripped down to the basics here, the rules barely apply, and each player is out for blood. In other words it's very similar to the real thing, only if there really weren't officials and the commissioner didn't care about anything but money and notoriety. If you haven't experienced Blitz and you've cut your teeth on the Madden franchise, then you're in for a bit of a shock.

The biggest thing to note about the gameplay in Blitz 2 is that it is the very definition of arcade-style football. The mechanics are boiled down to core functionality and the pacing of the game is brutally quick. Offense and defense more or less work the same way as they do in other football games, but with Blitz everything feels more powerful. The defensive hits are harder, the offensive plays are bigger, and all around the theme is to do whatever you can to move the ball, even if you have to break someone's spine to do it.

Like the installment that came out a few years ago, the sequel brings a high amount of juice to the table. At the start of a week you can juice up three players to receive some fantastic benefits, but you also run the risk of getting caught by the league. Apparently heading out to the field with the intent to shatter someone's kneecap is ok, but kids, drugs are bad ok?

This sequel continues the use of the Clash Meter and Unleash like you'd expect. The implementation of this system is very similar to the first League and it's every bit as game breaking this time around. You get Clash points by performing well and gaining multipliers, and unleashing it is as simple as pressing a button. This gives your offensive or defensive players an added edge at critical times and allows you to pull of some big plays.

Also returning for the sequel is shoddy AI, unfortunately. In the Blitz game a few years ago the experience was borderline broken by crappy AI opponents. The CPU falls prey to repetitive tactics, meaning if one play works well for you, run it. The computer won't stand a chance every time you do it and they will never alter their plan accordingly. This also means that you can expect the AI to mount an incredible come back in each game's final moments. Your player's hands will turn to butter and attempting to tackle the opposition is like trying to stop a tank with your fist. It's frustrating and wildly unbalanced, but admittedly there are games now and then where it's not really an issue.

If you can't tell by the theme of the discussion of the game until now, there're a lot of things that returned for the sequel. In fact, there are so many familiar items that you'd swear you were playing the same game, albeit with marginally better graphics and a darker story. However, the biggest, most notable change that comes through with the sequel is the inclusion of targeted injuries. It is possible now to specify which body parts you want to go for when looking to injure. This was actually pretty cool and was a welcome addition, but otherwise the only other real change with the gameplay is the inclusion of more late hits.

Blitz 2: The League offers up some entertaining modes and the campaign is definitely better this time around. Multiplayer is appreciated and the ability to take it online is a nice, and necessary, addition as well. For what it's worth, this game is a viable arcade-style football game with a hard edge that is very addicting. Pain inducing gameplay combined with the gratuitous amount of sex, profanity, and drugs definitely gives this franchise a gritty edge. The only real problem here is that the game is so similar to the first one, that there's almost no point. It's basically Blitz 1.01 and though fans of the one from a few years ago will appreciate it, it's not going to take long before it feels old hat.

Graphics


The original Blitz: The League hit the Xbox and PS2, with a port for the Xbox 360 the following year. In each of those incarnations the game looked mediocre at best with repetitive graphics, poor animation, and low quality details. Sadly, the PlayStation 3 edition of the sequel suffers from many of the same flaws as well. The cut scenes and clips of that nature look better in the sequel, but the actual in game graphics leave something to be desired. Animation is jilted and awkward, and everything just looks incredibly fake. The PS3 version has support up to 720p, but the complaints with the look of the game have nothing to do with resolution, rather the development.

Sound


Once again Blitz presents a game loaded with enough swears to make sailors and truck drivers blush. The dialogue here is nothing to write home about really, but it's garish enough to leave an impression. The quality of the voice actors is decent all around though a few will undoubtedly make you cringe. As far as the sound effects go, the game offers some nice bone crunches and painful bits. Unfortunately, the supported soundtrack simply doesn’t help matters out either. Like the graphics, you'll find that the sound here is unbalanced with some fine moments mixed in with some ill-implemented ones. t.

Conclusion


I had a good time with the original Blitz: The League and found that it offered a nice taste of the darker side of football. The gameplay was light, but fun, and the overall experience was enjoyable despite its flaws. The same can be said for its sequel, though the fact that Midway didn't really clean up the nitpicks from the first game leaves something else to be desired. The AI is the biggest offender here, and its unnatural behavior just doesn't lend itself well to the kinetic energy required for a football title. In the end this sequel is a rental as well.