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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Midway

 

Developer

Midway (Chicago)

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q4 2005

 

 

- Fun, arcade sports action

- Compelling and original story mode

- Thrives without NFL license

 

 

- Definitely for adults only—to much drug use and foul language for the kiddies

- A.I. offers very little challenge after initial learning curve

 

 

Review: Madden NFL 06 (PS2)

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Review: NCAA Football 06 (PS2)

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Blitz: The League

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

The Blitz series since its inception has carried the NFL license.  With EA wrapping up exclusivity with the NFL, there was always the possibility that Midway would do what other previous license holders did, fold their hand and go home.  Instead, Midway realized that their line of “extreme” sports titles (Blitz, Hitz) had never really been about the license—they had always been about the over-the-top, unrealistic, exciting sports action.  So, instead of trashing the franchise, Midway decided to continue without the license.  So, how does a sports game keep players interested in their teams without tying in to long-time sports fandom?  The answer, for Midway, was to create an innovative story mode that allows players to interact with an “interesting” assortment of players and deal with their on-field training and their off-field behavior.  It is a great idea and Midway executes it very well.

 

blitz the league          blitz the league

 

The core game play of Blitz is basically what it has always been—over the top.  The physics engine is built to support cartoon like moves and tackles and everyone moves and reacts much faster than real life would allow.  The lack of realism is further driven home by the Matrix-like “in the zone” feature that slows down time to allow a player to make a spectacular play. 

 

Despite its lack of realism, playing Blitz: The League is a blast.  The bone crushing tackles (complete with CSI-like visual anatomy lessons) and superhuman feats are as much fun as they have always been.  Familiar also is the game's rubber-band A.I. which sees opposing teams making ridiculous plays in order to keep the games close.  As with most “cheating” A.I., this becomes less of a problem with experience.  Unfortunately, as in most games, the lack of a really thoughtful A.I. also means that the game becomes too easy pretty quickly.

 

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- Playstation 2 Game Reviews
- Sports Game Reviews
- Reviews of Games Published by Midway

Luckily for Blitz: The League, basic game play isn't its only selling feature.  Midway seemingly came out of nowhere with this year's Story Mode.  Basically, Midway has created dozens of fictional characters to populate The League.  In story mode, players get to control the off-the-field lives of those characters, and the experience is very compelling.

 

Written by the talent behind the ESPN football series Playmakers, the Blitz story mode has players taking over control of a lowly, downtrodden team of 

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misfits.  Through the moves of the player, and some scripted additions to the team, the once-terrible team can rise through the ranks and finally play for a league championship.  Along the way, players will be exposed to cut-scenes involving about three Grand Theft Autos worth of expletives, drug references and sex acts.

 

blitz the league          blitz the league

 

In the story mode, players can do numerous things to improve their team.  Like in the dynasty modes of most sports games, players can train the individual players to improve certain areas of their game (arm strength, accuracy, agility, etc.).  Though this isn't particularly innovative, other aspects of the story mode are.  For instance, players of the game can choose to “juice” their athletes with “supplements.”  These provide a short (two or three game) boost to the players abilities and increase the chance that the player will suffer a major injury.  Since these are temporary, they are a bit of a waste of resources.  Still, it is a cool, original feature and you can bet it wouldn't exist in a licensed game from any league. 

 

In the end, I'm pretty impressed with Blitz: The League.  Midway deserves kudos for not rolling over and playing dead when they lost the NFL rights.  Furthermore, their solution to the lack of known teams and players was clever and, most importantly, works.  It's pretty easy to get attached to these teams as they struggle for one championship after another.  The game play is Blitz arcade-style action at its best and the story mode makes the game more compelling than extreme versions of traditional sports games usually are.  What's not to like?

 

- Danny Webb

(February 8, 2006)

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