|System: X360, PC, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Cyanide Studio||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SouthPeak Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 26, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Blood Bowl has delighted strategy board gamers since the late 80s. This Games Workshop creation - the company responsible for the Warhammer IP - has seen a number of editions over the years, the latest now available in video game form for the Xbox 360. While board games to video game conversions usually lose a lot, Blood Bowl's gameplay actually works quite well, giving up very little in translation. However, the extremely poor execution and lack of technical polish ends up hindering player enjoyment significantly. In fact, the appeal of the strategy-laden gameplay simply isn't enough to overcome the lack of production value, and I can't recommend picking this title up.
Blood Bowl can be thought of as fantasy football. Incorporating elements of the Warhammer fantasy world with rugby and American football, gamers will play in solo and two-player competitive matches that combine turn-based strategy with a sporting theme. In this blood-soaked contest, you'll take your team through game after game, rising up in the league in order to face off in the Blood Bowl Cup to play for rights to be called champion. You'll be able to choose from eight playable Warhammer races, including Humans, Orks, Skaven, Chaos, Dwarves, Elves, Lizardmen, and Goblins, improve their skills and abilities over time through experience accumulation, and acquire new recruits, staff, and even cheerleaders to give your team the edge.
For the most part, Blood Bowl plays like rugby (free-flowing, no line of scrimmage, no four down series, no first downs, etc.) with the big exception that you'll be able to pass the ball forward as you can in football. Above all, Blood Bowl is a game of field position - an important factor in both sports. Through turn-based movement, players will try to push the opponent back, literally cracking skulls along the way, and score a touchdown in the opponent's end zone. With every encounter, whether it's a block, movement, or a pass, virtual dice are rolled to determine the outcome. If you drop the ball, fail to knock your opponent down, or get tripped, you're turn will end and the other side gets to move. Through careful, strategic placement of your miniatures, you'll be able to stack the odds in your favor, control the field, and tally tries.
The basis for the game is definitely sound; there is a lot of strategic fun to be found in Blood Bowl whether you're playing against the computer, a friend, or online. Disappointingly, the AI is rather weak, so the game's lengthy solo campaign is greatly handicapped. That being said, it does make it easy to learn the game and garner Ws along the way.
Where the game really shines, however, is when you take on a fellow gamer. On the Xbox 360, that means picking up a couple of controllers and having a go. On the PC, you'll head online and challenge others through matchmaking. Regrettably, though the Xbox 360 also has online capability, literally no one is playing. Therefore, you'll have to play over LIVE against a friend who owns a copy, or simply play together at home. If you get matched up, and are a patient gamer that doesn't mind turn-based play, Blood Bowl has the potential to entertain you for hours.