Blitz: The League (PS2) Review - The Next Level

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PlayStation 2
Release date:
October 17, 2005
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Blitz: The League (PS2)

The PS2 gets some gridiron action outside of the Madden empire.

Review by Ken Horowitz (Email)
November 22nd 2005

What do you do when you're no longer licensed by the NFL to make their football games? Simple, you make your own. Without all the niceties of an official license to worry about, Midway has sought to show the dark side of one of America's favorite sports. The result is something gamers are going to really enjoy and the NFL is going to hate with a seething passion.

basics of the game are unchanged, and Blitz veterans already know what they're in for. You lead a ragtag team through a season in search of a championship. The basic rules of sportsmanship no longer apply, however. Performance-enhancing substances are the norm, and sometimes you're actually better off "juicing up" an injured player, rather than sidelining him to recuperate. This sort of thing is actually encouraged in Blitz: The League. Not that you'll mind. Morality is not a factor here. Why, who >i>wouldn't pay some prostitutes to wear out an opposing team the night before a big game? There's a ton of things you can do to put the odds in your favor, some legal and some not, and you make the decisions as to just far you'll go to be number one.

That's probably the greatest part of Blitz: the sheer volume of customization. Initially, you'll get to choose a rookie offensive player and a veteran on defense. They can both be set up according to your style of play, including their looks and specific abilities. In fact, just about everything is yours to create, from the team's name and logo to its stadium, even the staff! Now you too can have coaches willing to sacrifice their players and sense of decency just to win. Wait. Wasn't this supposed to be different from the NFL?

Questionable ethics aside, the dark and gritty sports world Blitz creates is one that doesn't require much contemplation to enjoy. Those familiar with Midway's flagship football series will jump right in and get busy, and the gameplay is as solid as ever. Your up-and-coming team is chock full of inexperienced rookies and veterans past their prime, but they've got heart and plan to take advantage at what could be their only shot at the big time. They're also capable of landing some nasty hits on both offense and defense, the dirtiest of which can break bones (shown through some nasty x-rays!). Each successful play charges you clash meter, which is used to bring the pain to whoever has the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The sheer devastation you can unleash is enough to make even the most dedicated face-painters wince, and I'm sure NFL executives are ripping their hair out in frustration over such carnage.

Though pretty simplistic, arcadey and a blast to watch, the gameplay does have its flaws. The A.I. is notoriously cheap, and you may soon find yourself in a world of anger at how it can pull a last minute victory out of seemingly impossible odds – on a regular basis. Whether it's an 80-yard Hail Mary or a QB scramble from one end zone to the other, the computer can do it all. Of course, this is standard procedure in Midway's arcade sports titles. Anyone remember a little gem called NBA Jam?

The computer also has a tendency to fall for the same play over and over, which can make some drives a mere formality. There are teams that simply cannot be run against but crumple under a decent passing game. It's basically a matter of finding their weakness and exploiting it. As you progress, your players will train and improve, something you'll notice as the season wears on. Whether you'll actually need it to win is questionable, as the computer has a habit of making some silly mistakes, like mismanaging the clock and sometimes being absolutely horrible on defense. Seriously, how many times can you miss a 20-yard field goal?

Blitz on the PlayStation 2 is more or less on the same level visually as its Xbox counterpart, though it's not as clean in some areas. Loading times are longer too, but they're not enough to make this the "inferior" version or anything of the sort. Both releases play the same and have the same content, so either one is fine for that single-player season experience. Even online, the PS2 game plays very smooth. I'm used to doing most of my online gaming on the Xbox, but Blitz is a joy on Sony's console and more than holds its own.

Chances are that if you're a football fan, you're either ecstatic at Madden's monopoly or hate it with a passion. Those looking for a non EA football game to play or just a change of pace are sure to have a blast with Blitz: The League. Either way, Midway's got you covered with an excellent alternative that portrays football at its dirtiest and most primal level, with a few obscenities and some gratuitous violence tossed in for good measure. It's all about the win baby, and in this league, everything goes!

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