Blood Bowl - 360 - Review
Based on a popular board game that debuted in the 80s, Blood Bowl is a tactical take on football with Warhammer-like Orcs, trolls, dwarves, elves, etc. taking to the field. Instead of being a full-on football game rivaling Madden (or, dare I say, the beloved Mutant League Football for the SEGA Genesis many years ago), the game is a strategy title set on a football field.
The game scores points for being a deep and complex take on console strategy, and thusly provides some truly intense moments that require a lot of forethought to the action and a deep understanding of the game’s mechanics and your players’ capabilities. However, the overall presentation is too overwhelming, with a confusing tutorial and a frustrating interface that makes it one that is hard to recommend for newcomers.
Blood Bowl’s rules are based in American Football, albeit quite loosely. There are no four downs, touchdowns are worth only one point, no line of scrimmage, and a few other key differences (well, aside from the fantastical creatures that partake in the game). The strategy elements come into play immediately, with you positioning your players on the board and having them move the ball up-field while getting into skirmishes with opponents. Each of these encounters is determined by a roll of the dice (individual and race attributes come into play here as well), and winning them will give you the edge you need to either score a touchdown or stop your opponent’s drive. The turn-based system works pretty well here, pulling off of the intensity and fun of the original board game without cutting many corners. There is also a real-time option that does away with the turn-based system in an effort to make the experience more intuitive and fast-paced, but more on that in a bit.
The game’s core gameplay is fun, due mostly to the original board game on which it’s based. Matches have a great deal of intricacy to them, and there is a great system of risks and rewards to help you achieve the upper hand when the chips are down. If you know what you’re doing, matches can be long, engaging and addictive experiences.
While it does a good job of bringing the feel and deep ruleset from the original board game, the game falls short in a few key areas. The tutorials are plentiful and unintuitive, not really helping foster in newcomers with helpful information. The game’s menus and interface aren’t really user-friendly either, as this was a title that seems to have been made with the PC in mind, with the Xbox 360 version being more of an afterthought than anything.
Additionally, the real-time option, which was seemingly made to get non-traditional Blood Bowl players to have a good time, aren’t really done in a way that is fun or engaging. The real-time play unfolds in a far too frantic way, with the game’s deep attribute system and intricacies getting lost in the chaos.
Blood Bowl is not a terribly good looking game, either. While the universe lends itself well to the idea of some cool looking backgrounds and boisterous characters, this doesn’t come through very well in this Xbox 360 port. The character models are pretty ugly and lack real detail, and the environments are muddy and uninteresting. All in all, this is an aesthetic that could’ve been done on the original Xbox.
The sound effects fare slightly better, with some decent music and sound effects. The audio presentation is really saved by the color commentary, which is interesting and funny, giving the game some added personality and charm.
Blood Bowl can be fun at times, with engaging on-field action and some cool, deep strategy elements. However, the game is not very friendly to newcomers, with a frustrating interface, lackluster tutorials, and a muddy aesthetic. File this one under missed opportunity.
Review Scoring Details for Blood Bowl
The game’s does a fine job of bringing the depth and intricacies of the original board game to a console, making for some intense and engaging matches between two seasoned players. However, the interface is very unintuitive, and the lousy tutorials do little to help out newcomers.
The character models and environments are muddy and simplistic, making for a visual presentation that would be better suited on the original Xbox.
The music and sound are average, but the colorful commentary does a great job of giving some personality to the game.
A shoddy port of what could’ve been a great game, Blood Bowl doesn’t really capitalize on the great board game, instead losing points for having a lousy interface and tutorial system.
The game supports one-on-one multiplayer matches, but the lack of online league play is a bummer.
Blood Bowl is a missed opportunity as evidenced by the potential of the source on which it’s based. If you really want to get into the depth and fun of Blood Bowl, you’re better off checking out the board game.