Top critical review
11 people found this helpful
on July 9, 2012
I have never played Blood Bowl, the classic board game from Games Workshop, but I've always wanted to. I've read and heard countless times that Blood Bowl is the best game GW ever produced, and playing in a tournament league always sounded like the most fun that could be had in the miniature hobby by the way people talked about it. Anxious to try to game, I picked up Blood Bowl Legendary Edition PC game when it was recently on sale.
The PC game plays exactly as the board game, and is simply a digital adaptation. Blood Bowl is a turn-based strategy game inspired by American Football and the Warhammer Fantasy universe (I've still yet to figure out if Blood Bowl takes place within the Warhammer setting or is an in-house parody of it). The objective of the game is to score as many touchdowns as possible, playing through 8-turn halves. Teams usually consist of a handful of different positions, a combination of muscle and speed. The Legendary Edition includes nearly all of the playable races featured in the board game, notably excluding Chaos Dwarfs. Because the computer does the calculations and dice rolls, the digital Blood Bowl allows players to focus more on strategy, anticipating opponent movements and preparing your own offensive and defensive tactics, as opposed to additionally cycling through charts or chucking dice. Blood Bowl also includes a real-time mode (which I believe is called "Blitz")--but its not what you might expect. Rather than being like Madden with fantasy characters, real-time is essentially a real-time tactics mode in which everyone is constantly in motion. It's barely playable, very difficult, and feels like it was tacked on simply as an advertising scheme.
The game is extremely difficult. Part of this is due to its randomness, and part of it is due to Cyanide's poor ability to scale difficulty. Playing on the easiest setting, those new to Blood Bowl are likely to be clobbered many, many times. There's no real guidance, very little in the way of helping anyone new to getting started in the game. There's a brief tutorial which teaches you the basic rules, but nothing guiding you in a real game. No hints or suggestions. No guide helping you choose your first team. That would be perfectly fine and dandy, if I was coming to Blood Bowl PC as a Blood Bowl board game veteran. Blood Bowl is a very random game, and your ability to win or lose the game may be disrupted and ruined by a dice roll. This can get tedious, frustrating, and annoying. It's especially upsetting to see your player trip over nothing or fail to pick up the ball in the open to due a poor dice roll. Much of the game quickly grows very repetitive, in a bad way--the commentators, Jim and Bob, quickly run out of new things to say. The controls are very simple, point and click. The graphics are decent, nothing great, but I personally was impressed with the soundtrack. The teams are in no way balanced--and I don't think they were ever intended to be. In the board game, I believe several teams were made intentionally worse to challenge veterans, or just to provide a "fun" team. But again, nothing in the game tells you that (in most games, balance is one of the major goals for playability). I made the mistake of starting with Ogres; I then went through Orcs, Dwarfs, Elfs, High Elfs, and finally settled on Humans to get consistent wins. I'm not very good at Blood Bowl--at all, really--but it feels like the game never gave me a chance to be.
As long as the drive to win remains high, the game remains pretty dang fun. As I started winning with my Human team, the desire to keep playing diminished quickly. The "fun" aspect I'd heard about so much in the board game does not translate well into the digital adaptation. Countless forums go on about how fun it is to play as Halflings or Goblins, even when you lose, in the board game--but in this digital game, if you're not winning, it really is hard to have much fun, in my personal opinion. This digital game showcases the gameplay, and I might have to disagree with the assertion that Blood Bowl is the best game GW has ever produced, based on the gameplay alone. But I can see that with the right players, one could possibly have more fun with Blood Bowl, the board game, than any other GW game. I'm not sure if I can recommend the PC game as anything other than a way to learn the rules or practice the game in preparation for playing the board game.