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Blood Bowl

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Southpeak Interactive
Developer: Cyanide Studio
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Sports (Football)/ Themed/ Turn-Based Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

In my macrocosm of geekdom, I have actually played, or tried to play, the original board game version of Blood Bowl. It is not a light, fluffy game by any stretch of the imagination. It is a very rule-intensive and dice roll-intensive experience. Like the very beginning of modern video games, Blood Bowl seeks to simplify and automate the more tedious portions of a turn-based game like this. Not arguing over dice rolls alone is enough to sell me on this game. It also provides a very fresh, live-action version that could only be pulled off in the virtual world. This was a turkey shoot for the developers. It was just a matter of taking an already established, well-liked game, that has a strong recognizable name from the Warhammer universe, and adapting it to the computer. They could have just done just this, been done, and had a decent game on their hands. To take it further and create a fun, virtual adaptation that plays well in real time speaks tons for their love of this game.

The graphics actually pull off better on a lower machine than they did on mine. It is not designed to be a graphical powerhouse, by any stretch of the imagination. So, do not take this to mean that they did not put a lot of detail into the characters, because they did. I am simply trying to point out that on the more technical side of the presentation, like anti-aliasing or texturing, it is a little grainy on big monitors and HD video cards. This is not a problem in any way, shape or form, you simply need to adjust the options to best suit your machine. The characters I just mentioned are as detailed as the original mini-figures are. The animations were a little stiff, but I can quickly accept this as "by design," given that they are supposed to be statuesque anyway. The cuts scenes, such as after scoring, did not exhibit this same stiffness. You will not be worried about any of this as you watch your team smash their way to victory.

I really did get a kick out of the announcer's commentary. It showed some great insight and sarcasm of today's professional sports. The grunts and groans associated with being stomped on, or delivering a stomping, are quite satisfying. It lets you know when you're doing it right. It was just as enjoyable to listen to as play.


Blood Bowl is not the lightest game to step into. There is a lot to set up before you jump into a game; this includes just the quick match as well. The game has an extensive tutorial, but given the history of the game, I was expecting more when it came to documentation. The game manual that came along was anemic at best. The tutorials were good, but it is hard to reference any of that material in the heat of battle. I wanted to see something more like the documentation that came with the board game version.

To start, unless you are a die-hard player already, play and replay all of the tutorials. There are six lessons, but they are of dire importance to your understanding and, hence, enjoyment of the game. Once you are comfortable enough to begin, let's look at getting into a game. Inside of the Single Player option you will find: Begin a Campaign, Begin a Competition, One-off Match, and Load. These work like any other sports game. Campaign is a season-long competition where you have to win to advance to the larger tournaments. Begin a Competition will take you through a less rigorous season and advancement schedule than the Campaign Mode, but doesn't decrease the challenge in any way. A One-off Match is exactly what it sounds like, where you set up a single competition to play through. Load will allow you to start up where you have saved previous games.

Blood Bowl is a hybrid between Rugby and American Football. You have down field passing and blocking that you would see from American Football, but it is played nonstop at levels like Rugby. You have the option between two types of play with Blitz or Classic. The Blitz game is played in real time, allowing you to pause the game play and issue orders to your men. Classic is just that. It is a turn-based game governed by dice rolls for attacks, actions and movements. You will then choose your rules, difficulty and the team name. Choose your team from 9 races. Choose your team name, colors and look. Hire the team members you want from your bank. You can mix and match the types of players you are using to fit your game plan and play style. Linemen, Throwers, Receivers, Blitzers and a Star big player can be molded into many lethal winning combinations. You can only have so many of each player type on your roster, and their salary must be met to add them. You may have a team now, but there is so much more before you take the field.

The roll of the die that run this system are kept behind the scenes, but there are tons of factors that can be improved to help your team before you go out. Sinking funds into attributes like Fun Factor, Cheerleaders, Re-roll, and Apothecaries will greatly change the face of the game. I can spend all day on the bonus attributes alone, but I really can't. You must get into the game and experience them for yourself. There is a huge customization element to this game. That is obviously why they have added Customize to the front menu. View and edit teams or create special competitions with unique rules. Once you have everything the way you want it, you step on the field of glory to do battle.

I really appreciate the effort in the Multiplayer area of the game. There are many times when I play multiplayer games that they make it too hard to actually play multiplayer. Here, you can play across the net, on a LAN, or even on the same machine with Hot-Seat Mode. Thank you. That's all I have to say about that is, thank you.


Simply put, Blood Bowl is massive. It is a hard game to get all of the nuances of, unless you really take the time to get to know all of the little aspects of the game. Yes, there is an Easy, Medium, and Hard setting, but it really doesn't matter sometimes if you have a poorly chosen team or just the wrong setup to meet the strengths of your opponent. It is hard to get into, but it gets easier as you build and develop your team. Learning your play style and choosing the right race to complement and apply it are the keys to winning. However, choosing the proper team with the right strengths and weaknesses to fit your play style is no guarantee you will win. There is the small matter of actually having to compensate for these same factors on the other team, while putting together a strategy that will allow you to get the ball down the field. There is no magic playbook where you get to choose a pre-set strategy. No sir, here it is done on the fly or you better really know your teams, and each player's strengths. Good luck.

Game Mechanics:

Blood Bowl is a really fun game. Not only did it take me back to playing the board game version, it provided a new way to play. And I really like that I didn't have to spend hours painting minis to get to play. I do think a throw back to that nuance could have been done in a fun way where it appeared the figures were being painted in the Classic Mode. I still needed, no, wanted something more in hand while I was playing the game. The forums had a wealth of knowledge; I just wanted a more defined manual. But hey, if this is all that I have to complain about, it must mean the rest of the game was solid. I did want to go ahead and mention that it needs to be more clear how, numerically, putting money into certain attributes would improve your success on the field. There are a lot of little tweaks where you just are not absolutely positive as to how exactly they will help you in the long run, or for a touchdown run for that matter.

The best way to enjoy this game is accepting that you are not going to get the early victory. Learn, accept, and adapt to win. Sit back in a comfortable chair, and relax. Invite friends to join you online. Take advantage of the tournaments. The Hot-Seat mode is very fun. It is not the old days where you could only have one mouse or keyboard at a time. You don't have to have someone in your lap, unless that's how you roll. Invite a friend over and play. Enjoy a good game made better by crossing over to the digital world.

-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Minimum System Requirements:

Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz or Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 3600+, Geforce 8800 GTS or Radeon HD 3850 2 GB of RAM Memory, 3 GB of Hard Disk Space, Direct X9

Test System:

Dell XPS DXP061, XP Pro, Intel Core 2 Quad, 4GB Ram, Gforce 8800GTX

Related Links:

Windows Simplz: Zoo Microsoft Xbox 360 KrissX

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