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Blood Bowl
Blood Bowl

PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: Sport
Developer: Cyanide Studios Official Site: http://www.bloodbowl-game.com/
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Blood Bowl

Genre: Sport
Developer: Cyanide Studios
Official Site: http://www.bloodbowl-...
Publisher: Focus Home Inter...
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Blood Bowl Review
Review By @ 04:14pm 23/10/09
The sport of Bloodbowl has been long forgotten in the real-world. But, long ago teams of Dwarfs, Elves, Beasts, and Ogres fought against Rat, Lizard and even Human men in a blood-soaked version of gridiron for the Chaos Cup.

Bias warning first up, I have been a fan of the Games Workshop board game that spawned this computerised version since it was released in 1987. At that time it was little more than Warhammer Fantasy Battles set on an American football field.

Since that time the board-game has seen a couple of iterations (The Astrogranite based second edition, and underground DungeonBowl being favourites), some other books and novels, an online flash-based league (FUMBBL) and a videogame version in 1995. I have bought and played all of these over the years, and as such was excited when Cyanide Studios announced an updated game on PC and Consoles for release this year.

And in many ways, it is fan-boys such as me, who are the target audience for this new title. Whilst the concept of the board game – fantasy races playing a bone-crunching version of American football – is simple enough on the surface; Each coach (you and your opponent) moves his players one at a time, endeavouring to get the ball into the end zone, each team member is moved individually one at a time, and each has skills according to their position or on-field role. These skills usually allow re-rolls (there are many dice involved) to actions such as picking up the ball, catching, blocking and so on.

If a player fails a 'dice-roll' for an action, then that coaches turn is over, literally a turn-over and play passes over to the opposition coach. A game lasts 16 turns for each coach, eight turns per half.

Between matches, coaches can manage their team; applying player levelling up, buying an Apothecary or cheerleaders or even new rookie players to replace those injured or dead.

Cyanide Studios has faithfully reproduced the board game, graphically animating the Dwarfs, Goblins, Ogres and so on that, til now were represented by static miniatures on the board. All the board games rules are incorporated, and represented as they are in the board game including the dice rolling and skill activation, this is great for fans of the game, but could be difficult to grasp for people who have not been exposed to the games real-world history.

Whilst all the stats, skills and number crunching is available to each coach before they commit a particular player move, there is a definite advantage to having much of the game rules book committed to memory before attempting a play.

This is even more the case when it comes to Blitz mode, a real time version of the traditional game where coaches can make player moves simultaneously. Blitz mode is a nice diversion, but coaches of both newbie and veteran status will undoubtedly return to the classic game before long.

In the single player game, coaches can play against the AI, in either one-off, competition (a number of games) or full campaign (linking a number of competitions). Coaches select a team from the Human, Skaven (Rat Men), Wood Elf, Chaos, Lizardmen, Orc, Goblin or Dwarf races, pick a team colour and icon and it is onto the field for some bone-crunching fun.

The AI even on hard does not command the cunning of a human coach, it doesn’t go for cheap Star Player Points (used in levelling up players), it rarely moves after the block in a blitz move and even the hard-as AI teams will not go for a cheap foul action. Experienced players will soon be looking for some online buddies to hook up with. Here Bloodbowl shines, though it is with somewhat rusted edging.

The multiplayer lobby is somewhat confusing and lacking in tools to get up and running, but once this hurdle has been overcome the online options are a Bloodbowl veteran’s dream. Coaches can match up with others based on their Team’s Rating, having a more rookie team (and therefore lower Team Rating) is balanced by pre-game "inducements" such as Referee Bribes or all important extra dice "re-rolls", that can alleviate frustration levels against your team of noobs, and give them a chance in seemingly one sided encounters.

Coaches can set up private leagues with friends, something that has always been done with the board game, but can now be achieved on a global geographic scale though some of the depth of the board game is missing. Most glaringly this is evident in the choice of eight races, whereas the long history of Bloodbowl has spawned close to 20 racial options.

This is ripe for a Bloodbowl expansion down the track, but veterans eager to get straight into the action will lament the lack of Dark and High Elf teams, nor any Undead, Amazon or Norse presence on the field.

Cyanide is continually patching, but still there are a number of rules mistakes still happening in the game (the use of the Apothecary is not quite right). Right now though, this is a game that fans of the Games Workshop classic will find a great substitute for sitting down with mates and breaking out the miniatures. Newcomers however, will love the fluff but may find the game inaccessible.
What we liked
  • It�s BloodBowl brought to life
  • Multiplayer options are excellent, expansive and non-threatening
What we didn't like
  • Between game interface is clunky
  • Missing some foundation teams
  • Not quite there with the rules
  • Inaccessible to newbies
We gave it: