Recently a friend of mine re-introduced me to Blitz the League 2. It's a football game (or handegg if you prefer) from Midway Games when Midway Games was still a thing back in 2008. However, unlike other football games Blitz the League 2 is more about ridiculousness than fair play. It's about making hits so hard you rupture spleens or shatter foot bones. It's about beat downs between plays where you rip of helmets or punch the opposing teammates so they don't do so well during the next scramble.
If I had to describe it, it's like North American football with a dash of hockey player-on-player violence and the dramatic over-the-top choreography and script writing of wrestling. Make no mistake, Blitz the League 2 can be a very, very dumb game. But that means a lot of dumb fun too.
However, I put "attempted to play" because I've gotten so frustrated at it I'm convinced I'll never beat it.
Blitz the League 2: A Boss Fight in Every Play
One thing you may not know about me is that I don't play sports games. At least not modern ones. I've only bought two sports games through my entire life. One is the Super Spike V'Ball / Nintendo World Cup 2-in-1 NES game. And the other is Kobe Bryant's NBA Courtside. I mean I've played a dash of Tecmo Bowl and other sports games when friends talk me into it. But generally I find sports boring because it always seems like an overly long tug-o-war on a field that never changes with an obnoxiously small ball of some sort. But that's just me. I mean no ill will to people who live and breathe that stuff.
However Blitz the League 2 has a lot of satisfying systems and window dressing that moves it beyond the standard "get ball to other end of field" monotony that brings down more serious titles like Madden and what have you. This game is about character. Crude character, but character none the less. Every team has someone you have to worry about through their Team Captains system. Whether they're the quarterback or a linebacker or free safety- whatever position they have on the field, they're going to give you the most grief as you try to get to the end zone. And man oh man will they give you grief.
However, due to the way Blitz games work, you have the power to take them out of the game. Permanently if you hit them hard and fast enough. Since both teams have a special meter, you can burn some of that meter to inflict hard hits and injuries during tackles or evasions. Naturally, hitting the Team Captains so hard they break a bone or get a concussion is really, really satisfying. Doing so after they've scored on you or intercepted a throw is so very cathartic that it makes the game of football that more tolerable. You can take revenge in many satisfying ways with what could be the prototype of the X-Ray system from Mortal Kombat (2011).
The League of Great Names
I really love all of Blitz the League's fake team names and team captains. They're all pretty great. When it comes to teams, you have the Detroit Devils, the Kansas City Crossfire, the Atlanta 404, the New York Nightmare (mare as in horse), the Minnesota Reapers, the Los Angeles Riot, the Miami Hammerheads, and on and on. When it comes to the Team Captains you'll be worrying about, you have the likes of Cookie Wallace, Ezekiel Freeman, Henry Cho, Packrat James, Daunell Sullivan, Karl Tirpitz, Bruno Battaglia, Kimo Talofa, HJ Latshaw, Tyrell Price, and more.
Helping you put the name to the face is probably my absolute favorite part about Blitz the League 2. The locker room videos introducing each team and team captain. I don't know what it is about them, but it really makes each game you play more like a boss fight than anything else. I find them appropriately dramatic (or over dramatic), and the narrator speaking during most of them does a great job letting you know who you're playing and how much a dirtbag they may be. You can check out a couple below through links. I don't know what that says about Blitz the League 2, but they're easily my favorite thing about the game.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Cleveland Steamers. The team logo is a train. Yes, Blitz is that kind of game. There's also the Vancouver Beavers, but they're a little less direct with that joke. But besides those two bad attempts at dumb jokes, they're all pretty memorable. That's not even mentioning the custom team you create for the campaign mode where you can come up with your own sports team, team captain, and go the Cleveland Steamers route or something more presentable like the Atlanta Kings or (the team I made) the Honolulu Leviathan.
Then I Actually Played the Game
The campaign has some great hooks early on as it hits you with tons of customizable options for your fictional team taking on the League. I absolutely love this stuff. They have a smattering of logos, color options, uniform patterns, and you have the power rename everyone on your roster. So you can have quarterback R. Davis throwing touchdown passes to wide receiver M. Domino. Or you have linebacker P. DiCesare breaking some unlucky running back in half. Or L. Kennedy running interference on a passing play. As you progress through the season, you get money to upgrade your team training equipment. Your agent will also give you challenges for some games like scoring three touchdowns agains a team with great defense, or sacking the quarterback, or putting the team captain out of commission with a well placed injury. All give you rewards so you can perform better.
For not playing any football games in the last ten years, I did pretty well. The early going in Blitz the League 2 is lots of fun. Then I hit the wall so hard and so fast that I got the most frustrated I've ever been at a game. There's a plot point where your team captain goes to prison, and you have to play a game of prison yard football (yes, movie references are mentioned) to get early release. The deal here is that if your team captain is injured IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER, you instantly lose the game and have to start over. I must have been at this single game for hours. Maybe upwards to 20+ restarts. I just couldn't get through the whole game without my captain getting plastered in someway. And when that shit happens in the 3rd or 4th quarter when I'm in the lead...
I did manage to beat the prison game, but not before all the good will I had for Blitz the League 2 was sucked away. Right after the prison scene is a game with the Los Angeles Riot, who are essentially the final boss you play a couple times throughout the game. Suddenly I couldn't tackle anyone, they intercepted all of my throws, and my runs were stopped cold. Either I was super lucky in the beginning of this game, or the difficulty spike is way out of whack.
A More Reasonable Answer
Of course, I don't play sports games. So it's probably closer that I just don't have any idea what I'm doing. I don't know what any of the plays do other than make my guys run/block in different patterns. So when you get to the prison game it's possible that Blitz is finally looking to see if you know how to actually play something close to football. The Quick Play mode is still fun if I just want to play a quick game of combat with a little football sprinkled on it. I think I can easily say that the presentation and team building portions of the game are way more enticing than actually playing it.
There's a bunch of other stuff too like how the story mode features Jay Mohr as your agent and Lawrence Taylor as Quentin Sands. That stuff is sprinkled on light enough that it doesn't get too annoying, but it's probably something that will vary from person to person. The "story" is definitely not the main pull here. But the idea of playing a game where football is even less glamourous than it is in real life opens it up to a lot of stupid fun and more satisfying ways to play even if your passes are getting picked off every other throw.