When I heard there was a new Bloodbowl video game coming out, I was excited. I’ve played the Games Workshop board game for five or six years, and I figured it would be cool to play some matches without the trouble of driving to the local gaming store, organizing matches with opponents, etc.
I was really looking forward to the single player campaign mode. Just like a traditional Blood Bowl league, you get to keep playing and progress with the same team. As you win, your players get Star Player Points and they get better. This is, for me, one of the best parts of the Blood Bowl – the progression of your team from a basic team to one filled with star players.
But, alas, after playing the game for a couple days I can safely say that it doesn’t live up to the hype. It failed to satisfy me as a Bloodbowl fan, and I don’t know that it’s good enough on its own to attract people that are unfamiliar with the rule-set from the board game.
Biggest Problem – Poor AI
The biggest problem with the game is that the AI is entirely lacklustre. I started a new campaign, jacked the difficulty up to hard, and wrote up a brand new Skaven team. I played through two full cup championships (10 games?), and results were almost always the same.
The computer was ineffective at playing offense. If everything went well, the computer would form a cage and slowly try to march down the field. It often left open a spot for a blitz on the ball carrier, though, and with the exception of some bad luck I was able to shut out most of my opponents.
The computer was equally ineffective on defense. They would swarm near my players, move into base contact with some, and apply some pressure. But oftentimes the AI would completely miss an easy opportunity to blitz the ball carrier. Thanks in part to the incredible speed of the Skaven team, I was scoring four, five, or six touchdowns in a game.
The AI teams also progressed very little. By the end of the second championship, I had a team value of around 1500, but my opponents were still down around 1000 or 1100 – with very few skills.
I’m not writing this to brag. While I’m a decent Blood Bowl player in the board game, I lose my fair share of games to other good players. I’m just trying to illustrate that anyone who is a fan of the board game – and is familiar with the basic strategy of the game – is going to be very disappointed in the quality of the AI. It will put up practically no opposition, and you’ll just find yourself trying to reach new levels of scoring or casualties caused.
Second Problem – Lack of Information
My second main problem is that there is a lack of information about what is going on. The text log is there, but it’s hard to read and it can go by very quickly. If you didn’t know what you were looking for, you’d probably be really confused.
Even so, there are some kinds of information that you can’t get at all. For example, during a match, I have found no way to look at your team roster. What if I want to find one of the linemen that needs one start player point to skill up, so that he can throw a pass? What if I want to glance over my opponents roster? As it is, you need to laboriously scan each and every player on and off the pitch.
Another peeve I have is that when a player is injured, absolutely no information about the player pops up in the apothecary window. It tells you who was injured (a name and a number), but you don’t know what position the player is or what skills he or she has. If you weren’t playing close attention to the action, you might not know who was hurt. Would it be that hard to include the character’s info in the pop-up? Likewise, when there’s a turnover, the game just displays a single line of text – why not display who was involved and what happened?
It can also be tough to distinguish between some of the players on the field. You need to hover over a character to see who it is and what skills he has, but this mechanism is somewhat laggy – and if you hover away the info will be changed for the character you currently have highlighted. Similarly, it can be tough to see whether a person is standing or laying down if you are zoomed out far enough to see everything going on on the field.
A few years ago, I played a lot of Blood Bowl on the computer with the java client that is used by fumbbl. It was much better in terms of displaying information and keeping your informed on what was going on in the game. If I wanted a computerized platform to play Bloodbowl on, that java client is far superior to the game put out by Cyanide.
Can We Get Some New Commentary?
Oi. It’s like flashbacks to playing Madden in college, but magnified ten times. It’s like they recorded one bit of commentary for every possibility (a star player coming on the field, a player making a pass, etc), and that’s it. I don’t know how many times, in those few games, I heard one of the announcers sing, “Ooh, ahh, star playah.” It was funny the first few, then it got really old, really fast.
Obviously there’s going to have to be some repetition, but they could have scripted a bit more dialogue. As it is, every game seems like a carbon copy of the game before.
Bottom Line? Two Thumbs Down.
Was it fun? Sure. But I have no intention of playing the game again.
When you win every game against the computer, the game quickly loses its enjoyment factor. There are some serious flaws in the game itself, which makes other online options (i.e. the java client and fumbbl) better for multi-player. The graphics are cool and the commentary adds some novelty, but this stuff becomes repetitive and can only keep you interested for so long.
From the perspective of a long-time Blood Bowl fan, this game really fails to live up to expectations. Maybe someone that has never played Blood Bowl would have a different opinion, but I doubt it. Save your money and play online with fumbbl for free.