Blood Bowl has got one of the most action-packed game covers out there that I've seen, complete with a monster chasing a human while both of them are wearing football gear. It’s one of those images that deliberately instills curiosity and fires up the imagination.
I knew the Xbox 360 game was based on a table-top game, although I’d never played it and wasn’t interested in a turn-by-turn competition with “fantasy” football. However the representation of the game on a video game platform just seemed too interesting to pass up.
I still don’t know if I like the game, though. After playing so many of the other games out there for the 360, Blood Bowl feels ponderous and slow while playing in single-player mode. Things just take too long to set up, and then the play is almost anti-climatic, almost like setting up rows of dominoes only to knock them down so you can set them up again.
Furthermore, the game interface is awkward. It takes some serious time and effort to simply get into the game. A player can’t just intuit what to do in the game. Considerable time spent in the tutorial is necessary before you begin playing, and then I found it somewhat confusing as to what I could do with all my hard-earned knowledge and skills.
The game AI (at least to me) also has the disconcerting habit of beating you more times than you can beat it. After a while, that’s not very fun because you don’t get to learn that many more moves.
Playing with a friend is better because both of you are on equal footing: translation, unskilled, so any victory you have against your opponent is cause for celebration. My son and wife played for a time and I saw her frustration become evident quickly. She’s a good game player, but things got too complicated and took too long to set up.
The game play is kind of like chess mixed with paper, scissors, rock. Even if you get a play off correctly, there’s still the possibility the AI or another player can kick your butt or cause a foul-up. It’s kind of fun to watch everything spin through, but you spend a lot of time to make that happen. The payoff just doesn’t feel deserved for all the effort required.
The graphics aren’t truly 360 level. They look a little grainy and dark compared to so many 360 games (like Mass Effect 2), and the motion is a trifle clunky instead of smooth. The color is vibrant, but a neon colored coloring book is still a coloring book.
One of the things I noticed quickly was how obnoxious the sideline commentators became. At first, the sarcasm and blatant insults were funny, but without true depth or a rich reservoir, the comments rapidly became repetitive.
The ability to design your own team is truly weak. You can’t change colors, you can’t mix and match humans and monsters, and the built-in limitations choked the imagination. Discovering this wasn’t a happy moment.
On the bright side, limited though it might be, games don’t last long. So this is a game you and your buddies can play against each other while waiting for other things, or can play round robin in a winner-takes-all combat fest.
My recommendation is to wait for this one till it hits the bargain bin. At $20, it’s a decent investment as a buddy game, but at $50, you’re just not getting your money’s worth.
Blood Bown is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Drug Reference, Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language and Suggestive Themes. This game can also be found on: PC and PSP.