Blitz: The League Xbox Review

Over the top for no reason other than to be over the top, Blitz: The League is this years sole console alternative to the Madden franchise. It's a familiar game, obviously a basic tweaked NFL Blitz engine. The things that cause the controversy, including fights, endzone celebrations, language, and sending escorts to the opponents hotel rooms, are pointless.

Blitz is fun though, and it always has been. This time around, the gameplay is a little tighter, and rather oddly, has a similar feel to the Playstation classic NFL Gameday '98. The playbook is small, and you'll find yourself sticking to a short set of plays for each game.

The League doesn't hold back like NFL Blitz was forced to, and as such, it has no boundaries. There are no objections to injecting painkillers into a player to get him onto the field faster, and purposely trying to cause injuries is rewarded. You can also bet on your own team to earn cash faster, whether for better training, drugs, or equipment.

While on the field play is slightly annoying, off the field antics nearly ruin the game. It's bad enough there is no standard season mode, playoffs, or a franchise (a weak story mode using a created team is all you can do aside from exhibitions). The game's attempts to earn an M rating are just stupid. The offensive/defensive coordinator letting the players on the field know he'll be gone for a second to "take a sh*t" isn't funny. It's a desperate attempt to earn the rating it was going for, and after you've heard the same line for fifth time in one game, you'll be heading to the options menu to turn him off (and you'll come away without making progress towards that goal).

All the antics that have caused some controversy with real pros and even ESPN are worse. There's no control over them. They just happen to be bland cinematics. The bar brawl used in the marketing materials is nothing more than a short segment that has all quality of the full-motion video games of old. Even the endzone celebrations (including recreations of actual NFL ones like the "cell phone in the goalpost") are repetitive and random.

Just when you're beginning to have fun in the main game and ignoring the lack of options (it is still Blitz after all), you'll realize there are problems there too. The kicking game is a reaction based test, requiring button presses when they appear on screen. It's either too easy or too hard, and the difficulty of the kick doesn't seem to play a factor. You can't hike the ball until the pre-snap taunt has loaded, and this can actually take time off the clock. With two minute quarters, it's easy to see this as a problem.

A big change is the clash meter, allowing for big plays by just pressing the left trigger. It slows down time and increases the chances of a huge catch (or a turnover/injury on defense). It's far too easily abused, and any tension created in a multi-player game is gone. It fills without doing much of anything other than moving the ball forwards a few yards. The AI opponent takes advantage of this even more so than a human player, and that's because it's programmed to.

Blitz: The League is not the Madden alternative, and once the novelty of it all wears off, it's not the classic Blitz either. It's a fun rental with a few hours worth of enjoyment until the shock factor is unveiled to be an immature patience test. Any longer and you'll realize this needs a few more years before it's a full product.

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