Blood Bowl Xbox 360 Review

May 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Take American football, throw in some dice, along with the likes of orcs, trolls and dwarves and you have the tabletop game that is Blood Bowl. Take all those elements and toss them into a developers computer and the results are THQ’s and Cyanide Studio’s virtual take on the game.

Firstly, the presentation of the game is really quite lovely with some fantastic artwork on the menu and loading screens, though the game itself does leave a little to be desired. Visually, things are overly basic and lacking in character, although at least we get some animations in this virtual version, which is something you’re not going to see in the tabletop game.

As I mentioned earlier the game does have its complexities, but fortunately, for the absolute beginner, the developer have included a tutorial mode to wise rookie players up to the rules. But even with these tutorials, the game has a rather steep learning curve and clueless players will be revisiting these in their attempts to get a full grasp of the rules. New players beware, it’ll take time before you know exactly what you are supposed to be doing.

Those who have played the tabletop game will be instantly familiar with what is expected of them, as this has all the major rules: the developer obviously had a checklist of what to include during its creation. It’s the players with the know how that are going to get instant joy out of the game.

A number of rules of American football are in there, meaning that major elements such as turnovers and touchdowns were included by the designer of the tabletop game. Each of the two teams (there’s 8 in the game, each with strengths and weaknesses) has 11 players on the playing field, and the objective is to score more touchdowns than the opposing player. It sounds quite like a Madden game (without the downs, conversions and over abundance of stoppages), doesn’t it? Well, think again.

The game is turned based, with each turn allowing you to move players, pass the ball and tackle opposition players. Turnovers come in the event of the ball carrier being successfully tackled, failed pass attempts, and so on, with all these misfortunes happening due to the power of the dice roll.

The game uses said dice heavily to determine the outcome of certain actions, thus Blood Bowl is obviously a game of chance and you have to rely on the dice roll in order for success to come your way. Luck comes into everything from passes to tackles, therefore it’ll prove to be a very frustrating game for some.

But there’s a certain kind of player that just loves the sound of the rattle of the dice, and it’s these people that will see the game in a most positive light.

The on-field players do have their own stats and skill sets, which means that stat numbers also play their part in proceedings. Some are strong, some have great agility, and some can move further up the field on each turn. It’s these stats and dice rules that govern the game, and I can never remember playing a Madden game that was determined by dice rolls, but then again if you’re wanting a true representation of American football, this most definitely isn’t the game for you.

For those who want it, there’s also a real time mode, though it’s very chaotic and the controls aren’t really up to the task. You can freeze the game to give your players orders, and whilst you might think it’s a quick fix for those wanting a proper sports game, it’s most certainly not.

There’s a variety of game modes, including career and competition. The career begins with you building and naming your team, and as it grows in success, you’ll eventually have the money to buy better players, whilst your current players will earn experience from playing well on the field, which can be exchanged for learning new skills. Competitions allow you to play a variety of cups, and it’s even possible to create custom competitions which give you a vast amount of options to fiddle around with.

As for multiplayer options, if you have nobody to play with offline then going online may prove to be a frustrating experience. I tried, though I didn’t find a single person playing when I attempted to face an online stranger, which really proves that Blood Bowl hasn’t attracted a huge audience.

The rather steep learning curve will turn away a lot of its potential new players, and the tutorial doesn’t do a particularly good job at explaining how everything works, but Blood Bowl is still an impressive virtual recreation of the tabletop game, and is definitely recommended for those obsessed with rolling dice, but it may prove to be a frustrating experience for anyone else.