Blood Bowl has been around as a board game since 1987, in June 2009 the game was adapted and released by Cyanide as a PC title however, and as of November 2009 the game has been available for the Xbox 360.
If you're a fan of the Blood Bowl board game then there's a good chance that you'll thoroughly enjoy playing this title for the Xbox 360, if you have a PC that meets the minimum requirements for the Blood Bowl PC game however then you'll probably want to buy this game for the PC rather than the 360. The reason I say this is because when comparing the Xbox 360 version of the game to the PC version; the Xbox 360 game suffers in key areas. Whereas the PC game offers you the ability to compete in online leagues and you can build up your team as you play against fellow human gamers; with Blood Bowl for the Xbox 360 there is only the option to play one-off games against other human players, and in terms of online gameplay you therefore don't get anywhere close to the same experience that you'd get with the PC game.
With that out of the way, whilst the online experience may not be the same, the actual quality of gameplay is still quite strong for the Xbox 360, and although the occasional glitch may be experienced; Blood Bowl board game fans should be able to get many hours of fun out of this video game. As an Xbox 360 title you would perhaps expect a little more in terms of the quality of graphics and sound, if you're a fan of the board game looking to play a good few games of Blood Bowl on your console though then the game should surely satisfy.
If you're not someone that is familiar with the Blood Bowl board game then this may not be for you. Blood Bowl is a turn-based strategy game, and whilst it may be loosely based on the game of American Football, this is definitely not a pick-up and play title for fans of Madden NFL. Don't assume that because you like Madden NFL you will also enjoy Blood Bowl; you may well be someone that will enjoy both games, it's definitely not a given though, and if you've never before played the Blood Bowl board game then this is a game that may take some time to really get, particularly given the fairly sub-standard tutorial that is offered. A greater tutorial would definitely be of benefit here, Cyanide is clearly hoping mainly to target those that are familiar with the board game however, and this can be seen as the reason as to why the tutorial is not as in-depth as it perhaps might have been.
The game has eight playable races; Humans, Orcs, Wood Elves, Dwarfs, Skaven, Lizardmen, Chaos, and Goblins, and if you're planning to play this one as a single-player title then there's definite fun to be had in watching your team level up after each match. If you were hoping for an online mode to rival the PC version of the game then as previously stated you're going to be left sorely disappointed, and although Cyanide has done a decent job in porting the game to Xbox 360, the PC game is still superior, and if you want to purchase the game then it's worth checking those specifications to see if you're going to be able to run the PC version on your machine.
Blood Bowl for the Xbox 360 is far from perfect, it does still remain a very playable game however, and whilst the PC version offers more for the gamer, this is still a title to look to if you want to play Blood Bowl on the screen as opposed to the table.
After enjoying previous titles such as dawn of war and battlemarch i was eargly awaiting the latest release from the warhammer franchise.In all honestly i was most dissapointed.
The game itself holds alot of promise.Its essentialy a brutal american football match with orcs,goblins and a variety of the traditional warhammer races.
You being by making a team.First off all you choose a race and assemble a squad.Now each race has different roles and each roles cost different amounts of money to recruit. After many fustrating and infuriating games i settled on the elf fraction and found a simple stratergy that worked.Sure i won all the time but man was it boring.
The ai in this game is somewhat lacking.The opposition team seem to run around in circles and do nothing then as soon as they have possetion of the ball theyd plough straight down the field.
There were a few different game modes i tryed and after a few slow and tiring games of the turn based mode i much prefered the real time mode. even with this turned on games still lasted alot longer then they should.
I wouldnt recommend this game to anyone even if your a fan of warhammer titles.
Give me a B! Give me an L! Give me an O-oh screw this, what do you get when you cross the crazy antics of American Football with the fantastical monstrosities of Warhammer? A perculiar little game called Blood Bowl. So perculiar, infact, that it earned our reviewing attention!
First off - do players of Warhammer actually enjoy sports?
And in that respect - do players of sports actually enjoy Warhammer?
Such is the outlandish beauty of the videogame industry. Immediately this seems like a concoction for disaster, but regardless - is Blood Bowl going to be bowled out? Or will it be good enough to make that all important touch down? ... I try.
Yes, the concept sounds absolutely ridiculous on paper - but then again, like Lego Star Wars and Wii Fit, so have many games of yesteryear. Despite the success of these games, Blood Bowl seems to completely fail in delivering what I like to think are "quintessential needs" for any gamer - whether it be ingenuity, value or indeed entertainment.
I was unsure what to think of the game at first, as it plays like something that really should be fun - but for some reason isn't at all. I think at the heart of things - it's the gameplay that really ruins this game. I understand that the way Warhammer is played is all dependent upon the role of a dice, and in that respect everything is completely up to chance... but oh no, Blood Bowl seems to take this a step further! Perhaps key moments such as tackling someone or making a touchdown deserve to be left up to fate, but rolling the dice to see if you can actually just move!? Or to pass!? Or stand up!? This is absolutely bizarre, it's as if the game just tattoo's the word "fail" across your forehead and expects you to be content with that - when deep down the only thing you really want to do is slap it in the chops (a British term which in America would mean: "Beat it up out of frustration".) Yes, your players can "pass out" trying to stand up, they can "pass out" trying to move, they can "pass out" trying to pass, they can "pass out" trying to catch and they can even "pass out" whilst passing out (goes without saying).
If you hadn't gathered by now, there's roughly about 2% skill involved in this game - and that essentially comes in the form of whether or not you've got enough necessary brain cells to navigate the start-up menus. It is also safe to say that the format of this game is very different to probably everything you may have played in this genre before (I'm thinking along the lines of Madden fans), as the whole game is turn-based. You begin unsurprisingly with 11 footballers facing each other on opposing sides of a field. The teams are varied into 8 races, Humans, Orcs, Wood Elves, Dwarfs, Skaven, Lizardmen, Chaos and Goblins. For fans of the Warhammer series, I would imagine that the depth and detail they bring to the characters from each of the races would be quite rewarding, sadly for everyone else it may feel as if Cyanide Studio's are just replacing famous names from the world of American Football with "those things from the Lord of the Rings - lol". When you are in control, you are allowed to move as many players as you like within their given "moving range" (which is essentially just a few squares on the floor allowing you to see how far forward you can move). If you incorrectly roll that dice, a "Turnover" is triggered and your go is ended there on the spot. For hardcore gamers I imagine strategic play is quite rewarding, as you can spend numerous rounds setting up a defence and varied attack. For the casual gamer who just wants to score a "touchdown" as soon as possible, you may find yourself getting bored quickly - as it really is the required inventiveness of the player that makes the Blood Bowl matches particularly entertaining. There is a catch however... a big catch. On my first run through of playing, I spent a few rounds setting up what I believed was a great strategy, knocking over my foes and positioning myself in free spaces. The moment before I could score my touchdown the bell dawned for half time - and when the game returned, everyone was automatically moved to the default starting positions once again. I felt cheated, frustrated and above all else - bored.
And this is where I struggle to give the game my thumbs up - because I can't understand what it wants to be. The whole "roll of the dice" aspect of the game means that there really isn't any skill involved, just pure blind luck. Then again, the fact you are constrained by a time limit to score may suggest that skill is involved for gamers - as you are required to get the job done quickly. I really can't make up my mind - and on that note, I'm unsure whether or not there is enough incentive to score a touchdown. Sure, it's obvious - you need to score in order to win, but the game doesn't help you feel thrilled or proud when you achieve it. As a gamer you are rewarded with a very shoddy 2 second clip of your character jumping up and down, and then it's back to starting positions. These are just numerous little things which stop the game from achieving its full potential.
As for the graphics and sound, there is very little to say. By looking at the screen shots you can see that the game isn't particularly the best looking thing on the market. I find the game very reminiscent of the PS2's level of graphics, with hardly any detail on the environments and severely blotchy characters. One thing which freaks me out to high heaven are the few characters who aren't actually playing the game. You see at the start of each match a quick "pan around" of the playing field, showing you the spectators and pom-pom cheerleaders. The fact the animation is so bad means that they don't really have clear faces - and that unsettles me as they appear as just blotchy peachy squares with dots on them. I'm not a technical guy, so I don't know the appropriate terms for some of these things - but characters feel very jagged and square (hopefully the screenshots will help illustrate my point better than I can) and each animation seems looped.
Now we're well into the third generation of games consoles, you'd expect the developers to create the model of a cheerleader on their computers, then have a few jumping up and down - some waving around the pom pom's etc. What Blood Bowl seems to do is get the model of the cheerleader, make her jump up and down, loop it so that she never stops, then copy and paste that 8 times in a line so that everybody is doing the same thing in unison. It just looks tacky and cheap, and whilst you may think these are irrelevant criticisms - it is the atmosphere and characters that really should set this game apart from all the other sports title's on the market. If you aren't purchasing this game for the fact it features worlds and characters from Warhammer, then you're better off just buying Madden. Again, in the sound department, Cyanide Studio's show that they aren't the top dog. The sound track is generic and repetitive featuring a small host of fanfare and trumpets ("like in lord of the rings - lol"). Also, would it have not killed them to get a better voice actor to record an actual commentary? Instead, you get very few recycled stories and throw aside comments that just irritate after a while. Every sports game seems to feature some famous/Z-lister commentators narrating what you do as a player in matches nowadays. Blood Bowl should have been easier still - all they had to do was create interesting fictional commentators and then have them record 3 phrases "Touchdown!" "Look at him fall over!" and "Let's roll that dice!" with slight variations to keep the kids happy.
There are many other criticisms this game needs to have pinned on it, such as its last-gen loading times, glitchy interface and lack of modes. I don't know if the full retail version will clean up any of these, but the online is so slow at loading and setting up that it's really not worth the hassle. You're better off sticking to a quick match, no matter how dull or pointless it may seem to play. Blood Bowl is a game unintended for the pick-up-and-play gamer. It's more demanding then every sports title, and sadly not as rewarding. To make a comparison to the real world - imagine working your ass off for less than minimum wage and for no recognition. That is Blood Bowl in a nutshell. If you enjoy your board-to-videogames with a heavy emphasis on tactics, then I'd perhaps suggest something like Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth, as the whole "randomness" aspect of Blood Bowl can be something of a turn off. For a richer, fuller and more entertaining experience - I heartily recommend Madden NFL.
While most Games Workshop games have been huge money grabbing drives with the sole intentions of parting young, impressionable kids or lonely beard-wielding old men from their hard earned pennies, they have actually released a few products that stood the test of time and which many people still look back on in fond nostalgia - or still immerse themselves in on a weekly basis. Blood Bowl, for me, was the only Games Workshop game I played after spending some time with friends who were into the hobby as a kid. Warhammer and its many derivatives required ongoing monetary investments that as a 14 year old I just wasn't capable of sustaining - but with Blood Bowl you bought the game, picked a team or two, and you were set up for as many seasons as you had the time for.
For the unfamiliar, Blood Bowl is basically a fantasy version of Rugby or its lesser cousin, American Football. All manners of weird and wonderful creatures battle on the pitch for possession of the ball, which they then have to get into the opposing players endzone to score a touchdown - often killing, maiming and generally just going to town on the opposing team along the way. In the board game version, all races from the Warhammer universe are represented, from the obvious ones such as orcs and the various elven races, to the more obtuse ones like halflings and vampires. As your team plays in leagues and tournaments, the team evolves. Players are killed or injured and replaced, though if you're lucky you might just end up with a team of experienced, rock-hard killing machines. Just don't hold your breath on that, because death and crippling injury is basically guaranteed.
The game itself plays like a highly complex version of chess, only with Games Workshops trademark dice worshipping that adds a huge amount of chance to every action. You and your opponent take it in turns to move your team, which will be composed of one of the many races available, who can do everything you'd expect a rugby player would be capable of doing within the context of the game. Smashing an opposing player in the face, dodging away from somebody, picking up or passing the ball, fouling... not that these actions will always necessarily work, afterall everything requires a dice roll. But the races are diverse enough to cover every possible combination of strategies. Elves, for example, are extremely agile and capable of handling the ball, sprinting up the pitch and dodging opposing players quite well. Try any of that with a Troll, however, and it's just not going to happen. Trolls mostly just like to hurt things.
The translation of the boardgame to the Xbox is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it's Blood Bowl - which for the people who already love the game, makes it instantly awesome. Unfortunately, Cyanide just haven't done what many people, including myself, would consider acceptable for a faithful adaption of an already established game.
As you may be aware, the game had already been out on the PC for a good few months before the Xbox version was released. This version was itself highly unsatisfactory, absolutely riddled with bugs and exploits that took several months to fully iron out with the help of the faithful community. The entire process felt a lot like the original release was nothing more than a beta version. Now, thankfully, many of these issues have been cleared up. On the PC, at least.
Imagine my surprise when the exact same recurring issues were happening all over again while playing the Xbox version! It gets worse, though. A lot has been lost in the relatively simple port from the PC. Your teams can no longer develop online - that is to say, that any injuries or experience that your players earn in online play simply won't be saved, neither will your teams performance reports. Now, for most people that probably doesn't seem like a huge issue, but one of the best things about Blood Bowl is playing against your mates in a progressive league, which just isn't possible on the Xbox like it is in the PC version.
Oddly, graphical ommissions that usually wouldn't bother me have really wound me up in this case. In Blood Bowl 360, you can no longer choose your teams Blood Bowl kit. Any mutations on your Chaos or Skaven players won't show up graphically, even in the individual player picture screens. In fact your players appearance won't change at all, even when they gain levels - every Orc Blitzer will look like every other Orc Blitzer, and every Elf Wardancer will look like every other Elf Wardancer. And there's only about three stadiums in the entire game. No big deal right? Well, no, I suppose not. But I'd like to know, at a glance, where my guy with Two Heads is without having to memorise his position at all times or actually go through every Gutter Runner to find him - and I'm sick of looking at the same stadium with barely any fans sat in it.
These probably sound like small things, and in most games I suppose they are. But all that's left in favour of the Xbox version is the fact that you can play it in front of your HDTV - albeit with graphics poorer than the PC version. There are of course other, heftier problems with the port. The main one is that content that is FREE for PC users (who already have an extra team available, with one pending) will cost at least 800 MS points.
Platform comparisons aside, there are other problems still evident across the computerised board. The AI is woefully easy on the hardest setting if you're well versed in the game, the only tactic it seems capable of is setting a cage around the ball carrier to prevent him from getting beaten up while he runs down the pitch. This isn't a huge problem on the PC - afterall, most of the fun in Blood Bowl comes from playing against other players. But on Xbox, you're stuck with it unless you want to wait ridiculous amounts of time for a game that won't actually mean anything for your team in the first place.
If this is your first experience with Blood Bowl, then I swear to God that it's actually better than this. Unfortunately, Cyanide neglected to include the (admittedly rather hefty) rulebook from the boardgame, which honestly most console gamers would probably be uncomfortable with reading anyway. The tutorials are abysmal, and in no way prepare new players for their first game where, with no option to turn off the time limit for your turn, you're just going to be quickly overwhelmed. All you can do is look up the rulebook online, find somebody to teach you or, like I read about one guy doing, spend over 50 games losing just to learn by trial and error - and we're talking around 40 hours right there, just for this guy to learn the game. Suppose there'd be an argument for value for money in there somewhere, but that would be like saying spending forty quid for a forty-hour kicking is good value for money.
Stupidly, Cyanide also decided to include a real-time strategy version of the game called Blitz Mode. Blitz Mode draws a lot from Cyanide's earlier PC release, Chaos League, and as such basically ends up a random click-fest. You can't even play Blitz Mode online, and it's a real quandary as to why this terrible piece of gaming trash was developed in the first place when it's clear that the actual turn-based game is still riddled with all of the problems outlined elsewhere in this review.
So because of all this, I had to rate Blood Bowl 360 with one star. The only people who will really want this game are hardcore fans with no access to a PC powerful enough to run that vastly superior version. Of course, vastly superior or not, I'd only rate the PC version with three stars, because Cyanide are still cleaning up the mess from the rushed release. If you've never heard of Blood Bowl before and after reading this are actually interested in it, but don't know any board game geeks to check it out with, then you'll definitely want to go with the PC version over this - otherwise, just don't bother because the Xbox release is pretty piss poor.