Blood Bowl 2
(Not Your Father’s Football)
This weekend the majority of us will be gathering with friends and families watching pigskin get thrown around during Super Bowl 50, but not I. I’m not exactly what you’d call a “sports guy” so when I was given the review codes for Blood Bowl 2 I almost passed them off to our resident Madden aficionados. I’m very pleased I didn’t. Blood Bowl 2 is brought to us by Cyanide Studios and published by Focus Home Interactive and is based off the hit Board Game Blood Bowl created by Jervis Johnson for British games company Games Workshop.
Blood Bowl 2 is a football game much the way Mario Bros. is a plumbing simulator. There may be some pipes and plumber, but that’s about it. BB2 takes place on a football field with you trying to get to your opponents end zone and score… and that’s pretty much where the similarities come to a rest.
Blood Bowl 2 is a turn based game based in the Warhammer universe and pits two team on a hilarious collision course. At its base you select a team from the races that are available: Humans, Orcs, Dwarfs, Skaven, High Elves, Dark Elves, Chaos, and the Bretonnian. Each has their own perks and advantages, as well as disadvantages. Dwarves sponge up damage and can run through most attacks, but can throw about as well as a penguin flies. The two elf races available from the beginning are pretty much the opposite; they can run fast and pass the ball the length of the field, but their defense leaves them vulnerable to harder hitting races like Chaos or Bretonnian’s. Each turn consists of you moving all your characters once (if they’re not disabled, dead or injured), with one special attack or “blitz” allowed per turn. Success on turns and moves is based off your characters stats and the races overall abilities. As of the writing of this review for the PS4 version, there are 2 new races available for download. One is another race of Elves (Wood), and the other is the Lizardmen.
On top of each races normal attributes they each have their own star players who have abilities to help turn the tide in your favor. You have linemen, blitzers, runners, and in the case of Dark Elves assassins who sole purpose is to take out the opposing teams best players. Now playing against the Elves as the Orcs seems like a losing battle with the Elves’ speed, but this is where the game becomes more about how you use your team. Let’s say, for example, the Elves just caught the ball and are yards from the in zone. There’s no way any of the orcs can get there on my turn. What I can do is take one of my fast Goblin runners and put them next to my towering lineman of a Troll. This gives me the option to throw my Goblin down field at the Elf down there. Unfortunately, being a turn based game success is based off a dice roll and your player’s stats. I say unfortunately because this particular roll did not go my way and my Goblin was eaten by said Troll, which is highlighted by hysterical animations and dialogue from the two announcers via Cabalvision. Basically, any confrontation or violence is zoomed in on and commented on by either Jim or Bob.
The game has two main modes where you can play vs. or play the campaign. Once you familiarize yourself with how the stats and dice rolls work you can move on to the season play where you make your own team and upgrade their abilities and stats, hire new players, and manage your team much like you would if you were a real coach. The real downside to the season play is if you lose a character (dies from injury), or in my case, they get eaten by a Troll, that character is gone for good. This makes player management and selection much more key towards what your style of play. It also forces you to weigh sending that player you’ve spent hours on into the fray.
Honestly, I enjoyed Blood Bowl 2 quite a bit and it’s nice to play a game that moves outside of the conventional genres of RPG, sports, or puzzles and playfully combines them all into a hysterical mix of violence and fun. It reminds me of how Battle Chess was, except relocated to a football field in the Warhammer universe. That being said, this a great time by yourself or co-op online with friends. Don’t pass this title by if you’re not into sports or football, because, there are plenty RPG, action, and puzzle elements to keep you entertained for hours. Let’s be honest, we can all watch football any weekend, but how often do you get to see a Troll eat a Goblin after trying to throw him downfield to prevent a touchdown by an Elf?