Blitz: The League
Blitz: The League is an American football video game developed and published by Midway Games as an extension of their NFL Blitz series. It was released in October 2005 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox after the National Football League (NFL) signed an exclusive licensing deal with Electronic Arts. Lawrence Taylor, who provides voice acting for the game, serves as its official spokesman. A second version of the game was released on the Xbox 360 in October 2006. In December 2006, a portable version titled Blitz: Overtime was released on the PlayStation Portable. These versions included the voicework and likeness of former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski. The game was originally intended to be a Wii launch title, but the version was delayed and eventually canceled.
|Blitz: The League|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
On January 22, 2007, the game was refused classification by the Office of Film and Literature Classification in Australia, effectively banning the game there. The game was banned as the use of drugs was related to incentives and rewards. Blitz: The League and its sequel are the only 2 professional football games ever to receive the "Mature" rating from the ESRB.
Since Midway Games no longer had an NFL license, Blitz: The League focuses on a fictional league consisting of 18 teams known simply as "The League", whose history is written as a tongue-in-cheek parallel of the NFL's, with the league consisting of three divisions, using a system of promotion and relegation. The game also brings back the hard-hitting and violent gameplay of earlier Blitz games. Former NFL linebacker Lawrence Taylor voices Quentin Sands, captain of the New York Nightmare. In the next iteration released in 2006, former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski voices Bruno Battaglia, the captain of the Baltimore Bearcats.
Blitz: The League is very similar to previous installments in the Blitz series, as it depicts an aggressive and violent version of gridiron football. Like previous games in the series, first downs are awarded at 30 yards, not 10; there are eight men to a side (similar to arena football, not 11 as in American football); penalties and referees do not exist (although players are somehow prohibited from going offsides); and overly vicious tackles and blocking are the norm. On gaining yards, making tackles for a loss, scoring, or forcing turnovers, players are rewarded with an increased "Clash" meter. When the "Clash" meter is charged up, players may perform "dirty" stiff-arms, dodges, rush avoidance (for quarterbacks), or, most importantly, "dirty hits" on defense. Performing a "dirty" hit or stiff-arm causes opposing players to lose stamina (in essence, reducing their effectiveness) and occasionally become injured (An image of an x-ray would zoom into a specific bone and show it snap, show a ligament tearing, or depict a different brutal injury). After successfully performing a number of "Clash" moves (or forcing turnovers and scoring touchdowns), players can perform "Unleash" moves which are nearly unstoppable.
When an injury occurs, the player may choose to "treat" the injury normally, or "juice" the injury (inject an athlete with steroids). "Juicing" causes an injury to be ignored, but increases the risk of more severe injuries. However some injuries are so serious (kneecap fracture, torn ACL, wrist fracture, ruptured Achilles), that juicing is not a possible option.
In the single-player campaign mode, the player is challenged to win championships in all three divisions of the fictitious League. The player begins by creating a new team, designing its uniforms and choosing a team name, then picks one of three defensive veterans and one of three offensive rookies as team captains.
The player must win seven of ten regular-season games in each division, followed by a division championship. Players need to decide on a training program for each athlete, which gradually increases the athlete's skills. Players also earn money for each game based on performance, "dirty hits" performed, etc., and can also earn additional money for "gambling" on the results of a game. With this money, players may purchase superior equipment, training facilities, and drugs (some legal, some not) that can be used to augment performance. Occasionally, players may be asked if they would like to spend money to send prostitutes to the opposing team's room before a game, an option based on the supposed real-life exploits of game spokesman Lawrence Taylor, which greatly reduces their strength on game day.
In "Campaign" mode, the player is also periodically shown cutscenes illustrating a variety of subplots involving the team. The game begins at the end of the previous season, when Quentin Sands of the New York Nightmare lands a devastating, career-ending hit on the player's team's star quarterback, similar to Taylor's sack of Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann during the 1985 NFL season, which broke Theismann's leg and ended his career, as the team is demoted to Division 3. As the game progresses, the player learns that the veteran captain has returned to the game as a result of financial troubles, while the rookie is portrayed as a naive yet talented individual whom Sands has targeted as the next player whose career he'll end on the field.
The story of the "Campaign" mode was partially written by former writers of Playmakers, a controversial show on the ESPN network that was canceled due to the NFL's objections to its portrayal of professional football players. Like in the series, the pro circuit chronicled in the game is simply referred to as "The League".
Also, before every game in "Campaign" mode, players are shown an optionally skippable cutscene, wherein the coach lays out the gameplan for how best to play against the opponents' offense, defense or occasionally, star player in order to win, adding an element of strategy to each game.
The most common critical complaints with Blitz revolved around allegations of "rubberband AI"; that is, in single-player mode, the computer opponent becomes nearly unbeatable late in games with the human player leading. However, many critics also pointed out that rubberband AI is also an undocumented feature of more "legitimate" football titles such as the Madden NFL series. The PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable releases were also criticized for their very long delays and load times.
- "Midway Talks Wii". IGN. September 27, 2006. Archived from the original on November 1, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-04.
- "Blitz: The League". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 2014-05-15. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
- (PDF). Office of Film and Literature Classification. January 22, 2007 https://web.archive.org/web/20081031030914/http://www.classification.gov.au/resource.html?resource=944&filename=944.pdf. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 31, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2007. Missing or empty
- "Blitz banned in Australia". Gamespot. Archived from the original on 2018-10-20. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
- "Blitz: The League Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 2016-03-10. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
- "Midway's Blitz: The League Banned in Australia". Game Politics. January 24, 2007. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved January 24, 2007.