Welcome back, sports fans, to the fantastical fantasy football game of Blood Bowl. Lace up your boots, sharpen the spikes on your shoulder pads and conceal that axe somewhere the ref won’t look. This time, we are going legendary!
I have not tried to hide the fact that I am a big fan of all things Games Workshop, including Blood Bowl. When I reviewed the PC version of this table top board game last year, I may have gushed a bit, possibly overlooking some of the games flaws. My apologies for this, dear reader. I promise it won’t happen again. This new version is AWESOME!! No, really it is…
Seriously though, Blood Bowl Legendary Edition, from Cyanide Studios, is a joy to behold. But those of you who have yet to experience the violent nature of a game of Blood Bowl may be wondering what the hell it is all about. Let me fill you in.
Some years back, Games Workshop created Warhammer. This table top strategy game involved players moving armies of small cardboard counters around a battlefield and basically destroying each other. This evolved over time to use actual figures. The universe in which this game was set gradually became more and more fleshed out, to the point that it now has it’s own MMORPG. Anyway, after a while, two things happened. I am not sure which came first as I don’t actually remember and I can’t be bothered to find out. The futuristic world of Warhammer 40,000 was created, and someone decided that the fantasy Warhammer world needed a sport.
Anyone who plays video games will know of the Space Marines from the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Yet not so many have heard of Blood Bowl. Basically the warring races of the Warhammer world decided that, every now and again, they would lay down their weapons and settle differences with a nice peaceful game of what I know as American Football. The reality was not quite like that, as many of the players actually failed to lay down their weapons and just found new ways to injure and maim their enemies.
Basically, what we have here is an American Football game with a heavy dose of violence. Strangely enough, a lot of the violence that can be found in the game is not actually allowed and relies on the Ref looking the other way, or a hefty bribe. The name, Blood Bowl, comes from the games’ answer to the SuperBowl, an event of such magnitude that people all around the Warhammer world watch via a network of wizards to see which team takes the title.
This Legendary Edition of Blood Bowl is not a sequel, but rather an answer to the screaming of fans. The main game itself, by which I mean the main mechanics and the playing of each match on the pitch, remains pretty much as it was in the original. So what makes this version Legendary? All of the stuff that has been added…
First up are the playable races. The number of races has been increased from nine to a whopping 20! Originally the player got to create a team from the races of Dark Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Chaos, Skaven, Lizardmen, Wood Elves, Goblins and Humans. Adding to that list in the Legendary Edition are the Undead, Khemri, Norse, Elves, Halfling, Amazon, Ogre, Necromantic, Nurgle, Vampire and High Elves. That is quite a list, allowing players far more freedom with the tactics that they wish to use. I am a little disappointed not to see a tzeentch team, representing one of the other Chaos gods. But that is a personal thing and I suppose they have to hold something back for DLC. Along with all of the new teams are a variety of new stadiums in which to play the game.
The other major addition to the game is a brand new story mode that will let the player discover the origins of Blood Bowl and see the player managing teams from different races through different scenarios. One of the major problems with the original Blood Bowl PC game was the relative inaccessibility to newcomers. Although there is a tutorial, playing through at least some of the story mode will give the player a much better insight into how each of the teams work and the tactics required to successfully manage them.
This is important because the different teams are hugely imbalanced. Veterans of the game will either know which teams are the better ones to play with, or quite simply not care about losing. For someone new to the game, choosing the right team can be difficult and potentially put the player off. When I used to play the tabletop form of the game, I had a reputation for losing every single match that I played. This was in part due to me being a rubbish player, but mostly down to the fact that I always used my Halfling team. Halflings are not built for the game, being slow, weak and more interested in eating than playing sports. But when they managed to pull off a decent play, which was very rare, the satisfaction was more than worth it. I understand that. But someone new to the game may be sitting at their computer wondering why their lovely little team of Halflings keeps losing, then switch off the game and not return. Play the story first to get at least a slight insight into the different races.
As with the original, many of the same problems have reappeared in this version. The AI is still about as clever as a Goblin, even when it is not a Goblin. The real-time mode is still far too chaotic to be of any entertainment. The graphics are still merely adequate.
But then, as I said earlier, this is not a sequel. It is more of an update, adding new content to a game that is already loved by many. Fans of the game, either table top, PC or even Xbox360 (don’t get me started) would do well to pick this up just to enjoy all of the extra content. But still the new players may well find themselves overwhelmed and confused.