Blitz: The League
Blitz: The League Developer(s) Midway Games Publisher(s) Midway Games Designer(s) Jakey Monmo Platform(s) PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable, Wii Release date(s) October 17, 2005 (PS2, Xbox)
October 30, 2006 (Xbox 360)
December 12, 2006 (PSP)
Genre(s) Sports Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer Rating(s) ESRB: M
Media/distribution DVD, Universal Media Disc
Blitz: The League is an American football game by Midway as an unlicensed extension of their NFL Blitz series. Released after the NFL signed an exclusive licensing deal with Electronic Arts, it was released in October 2005 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Lawrence Taylor, who provides voice acting for the game, serves as its official spokesman. In 2006, a second version of the game was released on the Xbox 360 in October. In December 2006, a portable version was released on the PlayStation Portable (under the title Blitz: Overtime). These versions included the voicework and likeness of former pro linebacker Bill Romanowski. The game was also set to come to the Wii in 2008. It was originally intended to be a Wii launch title, but has since been delayed.
On 22 January 2007, the game was refused classification by the Office of Film and Literature Classification in Australia, effectively banning the game there. The game was banned as the use of drugs was related to incentives and rewards.
Since Midway Games no longer has an NFL license, Blitz: The League focuses on a fictional league consisting of 18 teams known simply as "The League", whose history is written as a tongue-in-cheek parallel of the NFL's. (The League consists of 3 divisions, using a system of promotion and relegation.) The game also brings back the hard-hitting and violent gameplay of earlier Blitz games in a ramped-up manner. Former NFL star Lawrence Taylor is in the game as Quentin Sands, captain of the New York Nightmare. In the next iteration released in 2006, former NFL star Bill Romanowski joined the roster as Bruno Battaglia, the captain of the Baltimore Bearcats.
Blitz: The League is very similar to previous installments in the Blitz series, as it depicts an aggressive and violent version of gridiron football. Like previous games in the series, first downs are awarded at 30 yards, not 10; there are eight men to a side (similar to arena football, not 11, à la American football); penalties and referees do not exist (although players are somehow prohibited from going offsides); and overly vicious tackles and blocking are the norm. On gaining yards, making tackles for a loss, scoring, or forcing turnovers, players are rewarded with an increased "Clash" meter. When the "Clash" meter is charged up, players may perform "dirty" stiff-arms, dodges, rush avoidance (for quarterbacks), or, most importantly, "dirty hits" on defense. Performing a "dirty" hit or stiff-arm causes opposing players to lose stamina (in essence, reducing their effectiveness) and occasionally become injured (An image of an x-ray would zoom into a specific bone and snap or a ligament tearing). After successfully performing a number of "Clash" moves (or forcing turnovers and scoring touchdowns), players can perform "Unleash" moves which are nearly unstoppable.
When an injury occurs, the player may choose to "treat" the injury normally, or "juice" the injury (inject an athlete with steroids). "Juicing" causes an injury to be ignored, but increases the risk of more severe injuries. However some injuries are so serious (kneecap fracture, torn ACL, wrist fracture, ruptured Achilles), that juicing is not a possible option.
In single-player "Campaign" mode, the player is challenged to win championships in all three divisions of the fictitious League. The player begins by creating a new team, designing its uniforms and choosing a team name, then picks one of three defensive veterans and one of three offensive rookies as team captains.
The player must win seven of ten regular-season games in each division, followed by a division championship. Players need to decide on a training program for each athlete, which gradually increases the athlete's skills. Players also earn money for each game based on performance, "dirty hits" performed, etc., and can also earn additional money for "gambling" on the results of a game. With this money, players may purchase superior equipment, training facilities, and drugs (some legal, some not) that can be used to augment performance. Occasionally, players may be asked if they would like to spend money to send prostitutes to the opposing team's room before a game (an option based on the supposed real-life exploits of game spokesman Lawrence Taylor), which greatly reduces their strength on game day.
In "Campaign" mode, the player is also periodically shown cutscenes illustrating a variety of subplots involving the team. The game begins at the end of the previous season, when Quentin Sands of the New York Nightmare lands a devastating, career-ending hit on your team's star quarterback (like Taylor's infamous sack of Washington Redskins QB Joe Theismann), as the team is demoted to Division 3. As the game progresses, the player learns that the veteran captain returned to the game as a result of financial troubles, while the rookie is portrayed as a naive yet talented individual whom Sands has targeted as the next player whose career he'll end on the field.
The story of the "Campaign" mode was partially written by former writers of Playmakers, a controversial show on the ESPN network that was canceled due to the NFL's objections to its portrayal of professional football players. Like in the series, the pro circuit chronicled in the game is simply referred to as "The League".
Reception and criticism
Critical reception for Blitz: The League was mostly positive. Gamerankings.com gives the PlayStation 2 release a score of 76% and the Xbox release a score of 78%.
The most common critical complaints with Blitz revolved around allegations of "rubberband AI"; that is, in single-player mode, the computer opponent becomes nearly unbeatable late in games with the human player leading. However, many critics also pointed out that "rubberband AI" is also an undocumented feature of more "legitimate" football titles such as the Madden NFL series.
Blitz: The League's Lead Designer, Kraig Kujawa, said on website operationsports.com that there was actually no "rubberband AI" and that it was just people's perception based on past Blitz games that had it.
The PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable releases of Blitz have also been criticized for their very long delays and load times. This does not apply to the PlayStation 2 Slim.
As reported by Game Politics, the government of Australia has officially banned the game due to steroid use. The game is region free so the NTSC version of the game can be played on Australian PAL Xbox 360 consoles. 
- PS2/Xbox: These two games are exactly the same as they are the initial iteration of Blitz: The League.
- PSP: The PSP version, dubbed Blitz: Overtime, features extra unique helmet logos, new cities and unique coordinators to choose from in team creation mode. It also features 3 exclusive All Division teams for the 3 divisions.
- Xbox 360: Still called Blitz: The League, this version features Bill Romanowski as Bruno "Brutal" Battaglia, as well as unique helmet logos and extra cities. Unlike the PSP version, it features the same offensive and defensive coordinators as the original PS2 and Xbox versions. However, it does feature its own 3 exclusive teams representing All-West, All-East and All-American.
- Blitz: The League II
- ^ Office of Film and Literature Classification, 22 January 2007, http://www.oflc.gov.au/resource.html?resource=944&filename=944.pdf
- ^ http://www.gamerankings.com/browse.html?site=&cat=0&year=0&numrev=3&sort=0&letter=&search=blitz%3A+the+league
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