What makes a football title great? Some may think that realistic tackles, precision passing and great visuals are the keys to a successful franchise. Midway on the other hand prefers a more intense direction to the sport of football. Blitz: The League II demonstrates how steroid usage, sleazy agents and prima-donna players can make a football game exciting yet still lose all appeal when it comes down to what matters most, the gameplay.
The League II is the second iteration from Midway and brings a lot of the same ideas to the table as the original League. Blitz is filled with standardized modes such as exhibition and online play. The bulk of the title, however, has always been embedded deep within the campaign mode. The developers have touted Blitz as the only story-driven sports franchise on the market. To promote this unique aspect, they worked with Peter Egan (of Playmakers fame) to write the script. Unfortunately, despite how great Playmakers was on ESPN, Egan’s writing couldn’t save a game with inexcusable gameplay.
The Campaign introduces you to a struggling football operation that needs a new face for their company — you. Your agent, voiced by Jay Mohr, is seen talking up your talent to the owner of the league. He reminds the CEO what making you happy could potentially mean for the company. Once these matters are settled, you’re brought into the player creation process.
Character customization is one of the better aspects of Blitz. Besides inputting the basic information, you’re thrown into a press conference to answer nine questions from the media. These questions determine what position you’re going to play on both offense and defense. Once those have been answered, the next series of questions specialize your attributes. This will decide whether you’re going to become a speedy runningback, a stud wide receiver or that playmaking quarterback that a franchise would love to have.
Once the campaign mode fully starts up, you’re going to have to train players and decide which teammates are going to juice (steroids) from game to game. Though steroids are frowned upon in the NFL, Blitz takes pride in bringing the darker side of football to light. Throughout your player’s career, you’re faced with tough decisions like sleeping with marketing executives, taking drugs and more. I understand that this sounds like great presentation and interactivity outside of the gameplay, but those features are the only aspects worth getting excited about.
Whats not exciting about Blitz is how plastic the player visuals are and the lame animations that come off as entirely robotic. Announcing the action is the talented Frank Caliendo who is heard doing his John Madden impression throughout the game. Unfortunately for fans of Caliendo, Midway decided to only record a tiny amount of dialog, thus resulting in repetitive lines and boring play-by-play in a game based around intense action.
As for the gameplay itself, expect a mediocre game of football that includes easy passing, an inconsistent running game and defense that seems virtually non-existent. The only way to effectively run the football is by triggering Clash mode. Clash is triggered by a single button and gives you the chance to slow down the speed of play much like in The Matrix. This allows you to perform special maneuvers to create extra yards that may not have been there otherwise. Your passing offense is easily successful so long as you’re not throwing it directly at a defender. Outside of that, the offense is vanilla and even a casual player could put up 40 points a game with a little bit of practice.
Blitz sees the return of late hits and the addition of precision-aimed tackles. Both of these implementations can result in a plethora of injuries which range from broken bones to crucial ligament tears. The defense, like the offense, can also utilize Clash mode to unleash devastating hits. Injuries bring about the use of several different mini-games that add a nice change of pace to the gameplay, but fall shy of being able to save it from utter mediocrity. The injuries on the field, however, are highlighted by great x-ray images of each body part being broken in half or torn. Though the mini-games are fun, the defense suffers due to an overpowered offensive.
Blitz: The League II is nothing more than an underwhelming entry into the arcade sports genre. With poor gameplay, repetitive announcing and subpar visuals, gamers have no reason to purchase Blitz over the great AAA titles available this Fall.