Thursday, 1 October 2015

Blood Bowl 2 - Review

Do you know what Blood Bowl is? If not, this game is not for you. The developers have made little or no effort in making this game accessible to people who don’t already play the tabletop game from Games Workshop, of the same name. There is no way in. You’re not wanted. Go away.

For those of you who have played the tabletop game or the previous title from  Cyanide Studio, then you do not need me to explain the premise of the game. A game set in Games Workshop’s fantasy Warhammer world, littered with the fantasy staples of orcs, humans and elves. But unlike the Warhammer fantasy battle series, Blood Bowl takes itself far less seriously. Parodying American football with added comic capers. Here you score experience points for injuring or killing your opponents. Players can sneak on secret weapons on to the pitch and the referees are notoriously blind to these acts. The ball is quite often an afterthought. But you already knew all this right?

The second outing for this franchise has even less going for it than the first. With many of the great little flourishes from the original Blood Bowl, being inexplicably left out. Now instead of choosing the colour for you team, you are given a choice of pre set designs. Instead of a campaign mode where you could definitely play your team through various leagues and cups, there are now very limited solo leagues that simply stop after a number of games, you win a couple of “cyans” (the in game currency that allows you to participate in higher ranking leagues) and then you start another one. The sense of progression and continued story for your team is lost. There is now something called campaign, which is the old “Story Mode” (which no one ever played), which no one will play. Blood Bowl is all about making your own team and role playing their story.

The new online leagues are incredibly unintuitive to set up. But once set up they are essentially a full time job for the creator to manage. With no in game communication system, you have to make your own website for your league to manage everyone playing in it. You can’t actually schedule matches however because despite joining a league, the matchmaking is still random within your league. So if you and your friend want to play each other, you have to meet online at the same time and press matchmake at the same time and hope that no one else did that at the same time. I guess this shouldn't be too much of a problem for small, well managed leagues, but there are some leagues out the with over a thousand member teams.

Other small niggles are scattered throughout the game such as having to buy all your players before you get to the “Staff” page (which contains more than just staff). So you don’t know how much money to leave for coaching staff, cheerleaders, fan factor or all important re-roles. The commentary is even more limited and therefore repetitive than the first game. Four matches in and I’d already turned it off. The controls aren't intuitive at all and there is very little in the way of any tutorial. The choice of two camera angles are awful. For a fully rendered, three dimensional game, I don’t understand why we don’t have the choice of a fully functioning spinning camera.

I could actually go on and on picking holes in this game. But the truth is, I used to play the tabletop Blood Bowl. I played the first game to death too. And I’m going to play this one. If you know Blood Bowl, you can have a lot of fun. There is progression for your team, you just need to role play a little harder this time around. I have made two teams already and have plans for another four at least. I’ve set up a small league with just me and my brother where all of his teams will play all of my teams indefinitely in a ladder league, vying for the top spot. I haven’t got time for all the scheduling of a properly run league, but that’s ok. I’ll get what I want out this game and that’s a bit of fun, playing a couple of games a week to pass the time. And my beastman has already mutated to have two heads, so that’s a bonus!

by BloggyDave

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