2nd down, let's Blitz
A few years ago, Midway came up with Blitz: The League, a football arcade game that focused more on corrupt storylines, ridiculous hits and juicing up on the sidelines. Blitz: The League II brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘big hits’ and turns hard tackles into gruesome looking tackles with equally gruesome injuries.
Blitz II focuses heavily on the new campaign mode in which you play as a highly sought after rookie entering a fictional football league. Your player starts off by declining the opportunity to play turns down a big deal so that he can play for his hometown team. Your player (who is created at the start of the campaign) has the ego of two Randy Moss’ with a side order of Terrell Owens. He speaks like an arrogant moron but he still manages to score with dozens of women and make millions of dollars with the help of his agent (the returning Jay Mohr.) Climbing the ranks of the division and reaching the pinnacle of the sport is achieved by sleeping with executives and constantly injections yourself with performance enhancing drugs. The storyline sounds like an interesting idea but overall it seems a little forced and the characters are all so egotistical that it becomes difficult for any of them to show any sort of individuality.
Money earned via your salary and when certain tasks are performed in game are mostly spent on steroids and other such drugs which increase your stats and can give you significant boosts on game day. Scoring big time sponsorship deals will earn you upgraded equipment that will also provide a substantial statistical boost. To get this new equipment, the player must compete against an opposition team captain in order to get the deal, whether this is to rush more yards or record more sacks. Although these tasks may seem fairly simple, it is always rewarding to destroy the oppositions captain in order to get your face on a cereal box. Outside of the Campaign mode, there is a decent online modes and several other mini-games, the best of which is the No Pads or Helmets mode in which the injuries are twice as horrific.
Everything up to this point is pretty decent I suppose, given Midway’s current state, however, in this day and age, no one seems to care about a football game unless it has John Madden’s name on the cover and an EA Sports logo in the corner. This is a trend that will most likely go unchanged due to the somewhat shoddy gameplay that Blitz II offers. It’s a fairly simple 8 vs. 8 arcade engine that is very fast paced to fit the aggressive nature of the game. Yet the controls and player models look dated, and not just 07-08 dated, I mean 05-06 style. The players’ faces look bland and uninteresting and there is very little detail to speak of. The controls are just as ugly, with players turning way too sharply without any transition from point A to point B, at times it seems as though it was built with a 16-way directional system.
To go with the already questionable gameplay is the Clash meter. This meter is filled by adding up up big several big plays. When this meter is activated, not only is time slowed down, but every opposing player is also slowed down allowing you to just stroll on by several awaiting tacklers and head on towards the end zone. As fun as this sounds, it can eventually make the game seem far too easy and can easily lead to multiple blow-outs since scoring a touchdown is one of the best ways to fill up your clash meter. Various dirty deeds, such as late hits or morale shattering touchdown celebrations will earn you clash icons and once you have six of these icons, then you can err…unleash your unleashed bar. When this is done on offense, you can stiff arm a defender away and possible sever his spine, while on the defensive side of things, you can tackle a player to breaking (literally) point and potentially force a fumble. These unleashed moves do have to be timed perfectly in order to work though so it is not a perfect get-out clause all the time.
Blitz II has been hyped mainly for its injuries. And injuries they are. A big hit can snap bones in two, burst muscles and cause bones to stick out at an impossible angle which even the most sadistic people may find a little disturbing. The biggest hits are rewarded by a close up of the spot that was last hit and show the injury happening in glorious slow-motion as you squeal with sickening delight. Injuries don’t just come from tackles either; late hits are another worryingly enjoyable way of inflicting pain. Late hits in the NFL are usually just a couple of seconds after the play has ended or the QB has thrown the ball. In Blitz II, they occur when you move your player over to the downed opponent, tear off their helmet and proceed to smash his face into a bloody pulp with his own protective gear. Yeah, I laughed too.
The graphics in Blitz II are sadly underwhelming and look far too similar to its predecessor to be considered a next (current) gen game. The art style causes the game to look like a PS2 game rather than an Xbox 360 game which is really disappointing considering the brutal animation that surrounds some of the injuries. The sounds fare a lot better than their graphical counterparts and the sound of a spleen bursting will make your body cower in fear and the sounds of a torn scrotum will stay with you until the grave. The satirical commentary of John Madden impersonator Frank Caliendo produces a few chuckles along the way.
Blitz: The League II is a game that will not satisfy any football or Madden purists, but it will definitely satisfy the sadistic sports fans with its visceral injuries. Unfortunately, the shoddy gameplay and slightly disappointing campaign mode make this game seem overpriced and should definitely be a rental first, purchase second.