Blood Bowl – based on the turn-based football tabletop game set in the Warhammer universe – has made its way to the Xbox 360. Longtime fans of any card or board game are the most skeptical when it comes to video game adaptations. Others look upon such games in confusion and dismay.
Think Mutant League Football meets Warhammer meets turn-based strategy. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Well, as with many intriguing ideas in video games, execution is paramount. And boy does Blood Bowl fall short in execution and almost every other area. Read on to find out why.
Turn-based strategy games are a dime a dozen, few of which actually provide intriguing source material to base such a game around. Blood Bowl‘s biggest shortcoming is undoubtedly its source material. Taking a tabletop game, with a very small fan base, and translating it into a digital medium is an extremely risky task.
For those not familiar with how Blood Bowl works, you are given various players, from linemen to more agile players who can run, catch, and throw. Each team is given the opportunity to execute a set amount of moves for each player. As you can imagine, linemen can be moved into a position for a future play or execute blocks, the success of which is determined by a dice roll, and the agile players can be set up in position to run or catch the ball. Should a dice roll be lost, the player either drops the ball or throws an incomplete, and your turn is over.
Basically, your knowledge of American football is required down to each minute detail when executing a play. Keep in mind though, this is not a typical football game, as it resembles ultimate frisbee more than traditional American football. So for those sports enthusiasts looking for a strategic football sim, this is not it.
Playing matches was ultimately a painful experience, as one is forced to look at the game in an isometric view to actually play strategically. Though the game provides up-close and free moving cameras, going to such view modes was rarely useful. Because of this, the game is played 95% of the time in a view that is in no way visually pleasing. Not to mention – something I thought was impossible – the commentary makes listening to Chris Collinsworth in Madden a delight, as commentators, with very few words, contribute some of the driest humor. This, in turn, makes the game even more painful to listen to than actually play.
Being a turn-based strategy game, those drawn to such a genre usually have the patience and interest to be very meticulous and attracted to the depth. Because of this, campaign mode is the only thing that provides a semblance of replay value. Through campaign mode, the player is able to invest their money in multiple players of their choosing. This investment is then brought to the gridiron to play matches and tournaments to win more money – which is then spent on further advancing one’s players and adding additional modifiers to the game.
Despite the amount of depth in the campaign, it quickly becomes repetitive, and it lacks any real feeling of meaningful progression. The game’s learning curve is also something that will turn many away and steer them right back to an instantly gratifying game of Madden.
For those looking to play some competitive online matches, you’ll be disappointed. With only a handful of players available at any time, jumping online and playing a match isn’t always so simple. And with the game only being released a month ago, this does not bode well for the future of online gaming in Blood Bowl.
Overall, Blood Bowl is a perfect example of an intriguing old-school tabletop game that could be just as much fun on a video game console. But due to the unappealing presentation of the game, steep learning curve due to memorization of rules and stats, and lack of any real replay value, it is hard to recommend this game to the majority of gamers. Nonetheless, if Blood Bowl was an enjoyable game from your past, this is certainly something to at least rent to see if it will actually provide a “blast from the past.”
The game has poor player models and an isometric view that is not in any way visually pleasing. Menu system is very poorly done as well.
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Playing a turn-based strategy football game is as enjoyable as it sounds. Old-school Blood Bowl fans may find some enjoyment here.
Some of the worst commentary I have ever had to listen to. This game boils down to nothing but grunts and the occasional head-shaking "humor" from the commentators.
A campaign mode that lacks any real feeling of progression, and an extremely light online community will make this quickly forgettable.
Tabletop fanatics may find some enjoyment here. As for the rest, your money is better spent elsewhere.