For all of those over-the-top, fast-action, hit-them-while-their-down football gamers out there, Blitz returns once again with Blitz: The League II. Although Midway is unable to use the NFL license, their fictional world of football comes in stride.
Not wanting to make this a straight up arcade title, Midway developed a Campaign mode for the game, giving you a predetermined-looking player, but does give you the option of the position he plays (both offense and defense, since your character is an Iron Man) and stats through a unique set of Q&A with the Press before your season begins. What is also nice is the ability to choose from dozens of cities to give home to your club, also allowing you to name the team whatever you like, choosing a logo and colors of the uniforms. The cutscenes involved in the Campaign are nicely done and along the path to dominating the league are challenges, choices, and diversity. The way you build your team is entirely up to you as you purchase new equipment for the team, assign medical staff to those injured (which happens too often), giving players either legal or illegal drugs (or not at all), and training certain players to attributes you want them to work on for the season. Earning money is done by achieving certain tasks during the game and also by wagering on the over/under for the score.
The gameplay is fast-paced and two-minute quarters go by quickly, so do not expect a long, drawn out game like Madden. The playbook has a decent variety of plays, but if you are not familiar with it, you are not given too much time to plan out your move before the computer thinks you’ve spent too much time in the playbook screen. You earn portions of the “Unleash” meter by doing Late Hits on players after they are tackled, performing Dirty Hits, Intercepting the ball, etc. Once you have earned about 8 pips, your Unleashed meter is ready and you can execute one play to either seriously injure the opponent or make them fumble the football. It will take some patience and practice to get good at knowing when to use this feature, and also be prepared for some of the better computer-controlled teams to play real dirty. A three or four possession lead over the computer might instantly turn on you, leaving you to pull out of a slump. Injuries run rampant in the season, sometimes leaving your best players out for the season, while giving your opponent the same treatment might only leave them out for a handful of plays.
The other modes in Blitz also give the game something extra. Butterfingers, a Make-It-Take-It type, Prison Ball, etc can give you a challenge if you feel the need to break away from the Campaign, local Tournaments, or playing online.
The graphics and animation are a little better than normal standards, carrying the arcade style Midway is known for. The weather effects add realism and the commentary done by Jay Mohr and Frank Caliendo are nice touches–although I feel EA and Madden may not be happy about Frank’s performance.
This is a standard-priced game at $59.99, which I find to be a little much for something that is lighter than the bigger dog in the genre, Madden. Although the game is fun, playing for an extended amount of time might wear this title out quickly. You should definitely rent this game, or wait until you find it for under $40.