Saturday, 24 October 2015

Blood Bowl 2 (Xbox One) - Review

Blood Bowl 2 is available now on Xbox One and is priced at £39.99.

I have dabbled in tabletop Warhammer games. Well, actually I guess I should say I was dragged along to Games Workshop by a group of my friends as a teenager - the nerdiest of which would one day be the father of my children. I was never really interested in it if I am honest, preferring to spend the summer holidays at one of the lads houses setting up five screens and five consoles for another 'Summer of Gaming'. These are some of my fondest memories of my teen years, I mean who can beat seeing Final Fantasy 7 on a few different CRT screens on a coffee table, whilst we made towers out of the multipacks of coke we were drinking?!

Now I've shown you just how cool I am (read: unpopular with the 'cool' lot at school) let me explain why I included that little bit of Dannie Kitten history...I've always been more into video games than the drawn-out games played in Games Workshop - where you could quite literally miss your curfew if the dice weren't your friend that day. Standing for hours whilst people deliberate is not my idea of fun. Couple that with the fact that we only had one Games Workshop anywhere near - which also happened to me right near 2, yes 2 GAME's, a Gamestation AND an Electronic's Boutique (remember them?) I ALWAYS found something else to spend my paper round money on. The friend who would one day end up being my co-op partner for life however LOVED Warhammer and still would if it wasn't for 'those pesky kids'. So Blood Bowl 2 seemed like the perfect way for him to relive some teen memories, and for me to maybe finally understand why everyone loved it so much. I'll be regurgitating a lot of what Mr Dannie Kitten said about Blood Bowl 2 in this review, because (I HATE that I'm saying this) he's better at it than I am. :(

Blood Bowl is a fantasy version of what I thought was American Football. I've now been informed that it is Gridiron, which I've never heard of but it still looks like American Football to me. You have to get the ball from one end of the 'board' to the other, via turn-based play. It's very tactical, which is the main thing that drew my analyst fella to it really. But it also relies on the luck of the draw really, with random statistical probabilities of tripping, being knocked out or even murdered. The controls are simple and intuitive, but for a newbie like me the tutorial felt like a drag. I found it fairly difficult to simply understand and even more difficult to actually make sense of during gameplay. This game is NOT a game that is easy to pick-up-and-play. It is a time-sink, for people like me anyway, obviously people who already have a good understanding of these games will not have to spend as much time as I did on the basics. It's typical turn-based rules - you can only move so far if you want to complete an action too etc.

There's a campaign which sees you play against various teams to regain your teams former glory. Or some such nonsense. No one plays game like this for a story, right? There's also a multiplayer mode, both online and offline. In offline mode you can actually share the controller, which is good for those of you who only have one. In multiplayer there are 24 pre-made teams featuring 8 different races, and there are more races available via DLC. You can also customise your own team for multiplayer modes only. Local multiplayer works really well, but unfortunately I am yet to actually find a match online.

Graphically the game is fairly impressive and a vast improvement on the previous console version of Blood Bowl. The takedown animations are gritty and every tackle is done in slow-mo, which really does look great. The sound effects and everything involved in these slow-mo takedowns really adds a depth to the game that I didn't really anticipate and for me it far surpasses the fun of playing this in its traditional tabletop format. I mean, seeing an orc being crushed is much more satisfying than moving a little metal dude off the board.

Overall Blood Bowl 2 is a pretty decent game, but I am struggling to figure out whether it will do well or not. To me the people that go into Games Workshop don't just go in to play a game, they go in for the camaraderie, to look at other people collections. They play these games yes, but they also put a hell of a lot of time into making their teams and painting the figures - something that the console version can't compete with. With the disappearance of many Games Workshops from the high streets though this might be a good alternative for the long time fans. For newbies I think the game is just about welcoming enough to offer some fun, but be prepared to sink A LOT of time into it.

6/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

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