Blitz: The League II Hands-On

Broken, battered, and bruised: Welcome to football, Blitz-style.

by

Comedian Frank Caliendo is doing his best John Madden impression as you try to move the ball up on second down and long. Your starting running back is out for a couple of plays after getting his ribs blasted by a mentally ill linebacker with family issues. The center hikes the ball, and you bring your quarterback out on a rollout, looking for your tight end, who's managed to put some space between himself and his defender. You let loose with the ball, the tight end comes down with it, and he stiff-arms the defender closest to him and aims toward touchdown heaven...only to be blasted by a psychotic safety who very clearly was aiming for your tight end's scrotum. Welcome to Blitz: The League II.

Football is dirty in Blitz: The League II. Both literally and figuratively.

The football game was announced earlier this year by Midway and is the follow-up to 2005's original Blitz: The League, itself a revamp of the classic arcade football series. The original Blitz: The League took the over-the-top hits and frenetic pace of the older Blitz games and gave them a 21st-century revamp, full of bone-snapping hits, trash-talking players, and rampant juicing, all set in a fictional football universe in which rules are little more than suggestions. This time around, the developers at Midway are aiming to up the ante with bigger action, faster gameplay, and more gruesome injuries.

The eight-on-eight brand of Blitz football is still intact for the sequel, complete with 30-yard first-down makers and scoring aplenty. The game has added a handful of new and/or renamed teams, such as the Atlanta 404, Philadelphia Brawlers, Vancouver Beavers, and...wait for it...Cleveland Steamers. In addition, a few teams have moved locales, such as the Orlando Hammerheads, who have moved to Miami and play in a hurricane-hit stadium that's thoroughly dilapidated. Some of the fictional big-name players from the original game (such as Quentin Sands, played by former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor) will also find new teams in the game's campaign mode (more on that in a bit).

Although teams might move, the gameplay in Blitz II seems to be relatively unchanged from the original. The controls are very similar to the previous game, and any football fan will fall right in with the icon passing and very familiar running controls. What sets the Blitz series apart are features like the clash system. It's not new to Blitz--clash was in the original Blitz: The League--but unlike in the previous game, you'll have a lot more opportunities to both earn and use clash this time around. You earn clash by performing well on the field and can then use your clash to slow down time (by pressing the left trigger) to get around defenders, make catches, or make big hits when on defense.

Earning clash fills up your clash meter. If you earn enough, you'll be able to access the supremely powerful "unleash" mode, which, in true Blitz fashion, is sort of like clash mode on steroids. Hits come harder, jukes and stiff-arms are more effective; anything you can do with a player becomes that much more effective when you're "unleashed." However, it's only a temporary power-up, so you'll want to make sure that you use it when it counts most.

Though you can use clash on both offense and defense, the developers behind Blitz: The League II wanted to even up the power balance a bit. Arcade football games are typically all about offense anyway, so in an attempt to even the odds a bit, Blitz: The League II will give defensive players the ability not just to hurt their opponents but also to target the kind of injuries that they want to inflict. Here's an example of how it works: Your opponent's quarterback is dropping back in the pocket, looking for an opening receiver downfield. While he's scanning the field, you bring your linebacker in on a blitz and attempt a dirty hit by pressing the A button (on the Xbox 360 controller). Though your ability to target injuries doesn't kick in on every dirty hit, it happens enough to stay interesting. When it activates, time slows down and you'll be shown a couple of different areas that you can attack.

In any other league, this would be a penalty. In Blitz, it's a valid tactic.

In the case of the quarterback, it might be his shoulder on his throwing arm or his ribs. After you've targeted a body part, it's simply a matter of mashing the onscreen button as quickly as you can. The more quickly you press, the more damage you'll cause to that body part, and it's shown in sickening surgical detail thanks to some gruesome cutscenes that render every twisting limb and snapping ligament. In the case of the quarterback, if you dislocate his shoulder, your opponent can come on field and try to set the arm back in its socket with a quick little minigame that uses both analog sticks. Accuracy will count here, so the more efficient you are while setting his arm, the fewer plays he'll have to sit out. Of course, you can also juice your players on the sidelines, which involves another minigame in which you have to be accurate with the needle to recover all-important stamina.

Playbooks in Blitz II will be customized by team, but they are still organized by intent rather than formation. For example, you might have power plays, which mostly focus on big sets and running plays, as well as balanced plays that feature a nice mix of air and ground attacks. Only three plays appear onscreen at a time, and there seems to be a relatively healthy combination of traditional and trick plays to select. In addition, though the player animations aren't among the best we've seen in football games, the game pace is quick indeed, and there's plenty of huge hits that will elicit a few shouts of appreciation (or grimaces of pain) the first time you see them. The game will also feature around 25 touchdown celebrations, a few of which will be unlocked right away; the rest you'll need to discover on your own by entering various button combinations in the end zone. Another big part of Blitz II will be weather effects. When playing in pouring rain or heavy snow, your players will sometimes slip and fall when playing on slick ice or deep mud.

The centerpiece of the single-player game in Blitz II will be the campaign mode, a story-driven mode that will feature your created player as an up-and-coming star in the Blitz league. To fashion your created player the way you like, you'll first hit a press conference, where you'll answer a series of questions designed to help you choose your player's positions and attributes. Your character will be the first two-way player in the league's history and, as the story progresses, you'll go up against your nemesis, the league commissioner, who wants to use your talent on his own team and is willing to go to practically any length--including sending you to prison--to see it through. Naturally, it wouldn't be a prison scene without a prison football game and, as a result, you'll be able to play in the pokey with 50-yard fields, no first downs, and no pads. Later you'll be able to unlock prison ball as a playable mode in the game.

The story mode in Blitz will feature such celebrity voice talent as the aforementioned Lawrence Taylor, comic impersonator Frank Caliendo (who voices your team's offensive coordinator, the prison warden, and lends his best rambling, nonsensical John Madden impersonation as the game's unnamed color commentator), and Jay Mohr (Ghost Whisperer, The Adventures of Pluto Nash), who plays your character's fast-talking agent.

Weather will play a big part in the on-field action.

During the season, you'll be able to train your players weekly for attribute bonuses, as well as administer both legal and illegal drugs--err, make that "supplements"--to your players. The list of fake supplements is long and their effects are varied. "Ziolphene" will help you move in and out of clash mode more quickly, whereas "Lastix" will let your player gain two stamina points for every successful clash or unleash move on the field. Using illegal substances will increase your team's risk of being fined by the league, so you'll want to find a balance between keeping your players hopped up and not bending the rules too much.

Beyond the campaign mode, Blitz II will feature a 16-player tournament mode, in which you'll be able to play in a variety of new and returning game modes such as Make It, Take It; Bone Crushers; and Prison Ball. The game will also feature head-to-head online play, along with improved online stat tracking, though there won't be online leagues. Instead, the emphasis for Blitz: The League II seems to be in its single-player game, which is full of severe injuries, late hits, and salacious storylines. The game is set for release this October; stay tuned for more coverage in the coming months. For more information on the game, check out SportsGamer's interview with lead game designer David Friedland.

Discussion

56 comments
ps2chomicro
ps2chomicro

Picking up my copy tomorrow afternoon :D Can't wait :D I havn't played Blitz since the original NFL Blitz game for the PS1. It was so much damn fun. I hope that this version like 10 years later is as much fun.

RVD61903
RVD61903

Can't wait fot this!!! #11 GARNETS from Blitz 1 from PS2 ready to own again

theJZA
theJZA

Does anyone know if this will be OFFLINE 4 players? I haven't been able to find out, as they only mention 2 players...

DFBH
DFBH

I know its blitz and its supposed to be over the top. I just hope, they make it a bit more realistic. Not a INT or Fumble on every play this year. Please!

hybrid3214
hybrid3214

I loved blitz 1 so i will be getting this. The only thing I hope is that they make the single player campaign mode last for more than 3 seasons a 10 season or 20 would be a lot nicer. I will still get this game regardless because the first one is always good for a laugh and this one seems even better.

ACSlater
ACSlater

Wow, those screens are beautiful. And what I like is that none of the characters are in the exact same pose, they all look different and unique in the play. With solid gameplay in this, this'll be the only game I need. Can't wait to do some multiplayer against friends. I will Juice to victory! lol

mrbass208
mrbass208

I just hope they add more depth to the off-field aspects of the campaign mode. Would solidify the single-player experience considerably.

invictuslemming
invictuslemming

Haha I've been waiting for this game for years, NFL Blitz was the most fun football game I've ever played. Its so much fun playing with a friend because of the random, completely illegal stunts you can pull.

Tiger626516
Tiger626516

Sweet!!! Remember playing this on the PSX when it first came out. Great game, Looking forward to this on the new system.

jp_59
jp_59

Can't wait, loved the first Blitz the league.

halo1hater
halo1hater

Looks pretty realstic, unlike madden. and I'm a huge madden fan, I just wanna see how this turns out.

Ja-nem-ba
Ja-nem-ba

Gastman, you sound like an obsessed jock. If we wanted to play "real football", then we would probably... go outside and play it. Why do you think that people don't go try finding large dungeons with keys in them and fighting a boss at the end to be rewarded with an item, more stamina and some sort of world-saving object? Because video games are meant to be what they are: fake as NFL's talent. Who cares if Madden can perfectly simulate the events of a football game? That makes it less fun. Hm... lets see... no late hits (without penalties, unless you tweak the rules, but then its no longer the replica of football), injuries like a sprained left pinky (exaggeration alert) and uninspired celebration dances... sounds like the NFL to me. Yay! Realism! Why do you think that Contra is such a popular game, despite the fact that you have infinite ammo, completely opposing reality? Cause no one gives a damn about reality in video games, that's why. I'm not saying Madden sucks (although I don't like it). Just to say its the best thing ever because it replicates what you could be doing with your friends as you play in real life, makes you sound like you just don't wanna get off your lazy ass and play yourself.

KwasiAsiedu
KwasiAsiedu

It looks good so far. I was not planning on getting Madden 09 (maybe when the price comes down) cause I have 08. The only problem I had with the first one was it speed. It was just too fast when compared to Madden. I loved the tackle induced injuries though. I will be looking out for this. I was waiting for Backbreaker football but it must have been canceled or something , there's been no news in ages.

LordReithgar
LordReithgar

I was looking forward to this game, man NHL '09 and now Blitz!! at last a football game worth being played!

Vebron23
Vebron23

Everyone knows that madden is the "sim" of football games. Your a dumb...yeah if you don't. ONLY madden has the rights to make NFL games anyways. NFL 2k5 was the last year of NFL games for me. Not a fan of Madden and the freak glitch plays it has. Yeah, all football games have em, but the best Madden players use exploits. Plus the DB's in Madden are on that retarded **** As a college football player...I can safely say that if it isn't NCAA then most of us get our kicks out of Blitz...yeah we all have Madden and use it as the BAR...but it just doesn't match the fun of NCAA and Blitz. Especially on the "old" systems. Using Frank Caliendo for this game is genius

nebagaman4life
nebagaman4life

Blitz the league 1 was a really underrated game. It's not a fair comparison to madden, more along the lines of NFL street. It has a really high replay value and takes many funny tongue and cheek shots at the No Fun League

prototype24red
prototype24red

the first one was bad hey and madden way better! it owns!

FraserAlexander
FraserAlexander

anything is better than madden. Madden is also arcade, don't fool yourselves into thinking it's 'sim'.

Kloud_450
Kloud_450

Can't wait for this. I'm still playing the first one. @Gastman: You can't really compare Madden and Blitz. Like you said, Madden is where real football is. Blitz is an Arcade-style football game.

Gastman
Gastman

This game is so lame, Madden is ten times better then Blitz. So go buy Madden 09 it is where real football is.

Midgetmen
Midgetmen

dude idk sounds the same as the first one

Sparktony
Sparktony

i liked the first one but i hope they dont make this one so freakin hard man the first one made me pissed off all the time

itwiz90
itwiz90

This is fine if you like arcade style football, and fun for those who want extreme game-play. I like Madden, because of the playbook and play calling capabilities. Madden has more depth, but for those who want extreme this is the game for you, and a rental for me. 8)

HuusAsking
HuusAsking

@ZephyrKama: They seem to mention that in the preview, so you may just get your wish.

KingSigy
KingSigy

Graphically its better than Madden, but Blitz has never been a very deep or interesting Football game past its first iteration. Hopefully Midway can conjure up something new.

ZephyrKama
ZephyrKama

I just hope this time around they have x ray footage actually depicts what injury is being sustained.

Arthur-Artem
Arthur-Artem

First game was amazing!!!The new one will be awesome!!!Can't wait till I break bones of New York F**kin' Nightmare's Quentin F**kin' Sands...

slip_killer
slip_killer

As much as I love blitz it isn't the same without actual nfl teams

bnazty23
bnazty23

I dont know I didnt like the first one and I probably will not like this one. I mean crazy sports games are not that fun to me like Pro Tour and Street I like the real stuff. Except for Monster Football that is, that game was so freaken fun.

MrQuest77
MrQuest77

i have to admit this sounds interesting

xXxManslayerxXx
xXxManslayerxXx

@ NND1 man are you dumb? you mean that you have fun because of licenses and not gameplay? really bad criteria to send a game to the trash.

Kool-Aid247
Kool-Aid247

damn.. i gota get diz.. neva tried blitz, just NFL and NCA,.. gota get

NND1
NND1

I Liked the Blitz games when they had NFL license but with all these no name teams the game just does not seem fun anymore .... I took Blitz the league back the next day I got it..... I hate to say it but the game does not mean that much and is not really fun unless they have the real players from the NFL...... KEEP THIS IN THE TRASH!!! NO THANKS.

kissthedingo
kissthedingo

Lexxzilla "Ruptured testicles do not belong in ANY sports video game." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ROFL! Ruptured testicles don't belong on any sports. Just thinking about it sends pain down my testicles.

Lexxzilla
Lexxzilla

Ruptured testicles do not belong in ANY sports video game.

kc0lcs04
kc0lcs04

Looks like a fun game. I hope it's got better language than the first League did. Also, I REALLY like the idea of Frank Caliendo doing play-by-play; awesome!!!

Vasot
Vasot

The game looks better with more clean textures on XBOX360 according to beta testing Another failure for PS3...

specialk90
specialk90

hopefully it doesnt suck. if they made the physics better then this would be a ok game to play

AZisBack
AZisBack

Hopefully there is an option to keep progressing past one season.

grvr316
grvr316

I'm juiced up for this one, and Frank Caliendo will change the way broadcasters do voice overs for sports games. Bring on the pain!

DrKill09
DrKill09

Blitz the League is probably my all time favorite football game. I LOVE it! Can't wait til October! This game is gonna be BRUTAL! :D

littlestreakier
littlestreakier

ahhhh blitz, my favorite football series ever. blitz the league II looks like it's gonna be the best yet.

meboney1985
meboney1985

It looks like they took everything that was great in the first blitz and made it better. so glad the late hits are back. Hell Yeah!!!!