Gameplay ImpressionsGameplay Impressions…
Whether you enjoy your Blood Bowl experience, or hate it with a passion, will depend on one vital thing: whether you're familiar with and enjoy playing turn-based games .
The tutorial does little to help newbies get going and the slow-paced action of turn-based mode will probably put off anyone who accidentally thinks that Blood Bowl is going to be an action-packed sport's game. It's not. The hideous real-time mode arguably provides a little bit of excitement that you could loosely describe as 'action,' but the clumsy control scheme, awful A.I. and general lack of polish will, or should, ensure that you won't spend any quality time, wasting your time with it.
If, however, you're a fan of Games Workshop, then you'll know just what to expect from turn-based mode, and will probably be pleasantly surprised that a decent job has been done at turning a table-top game into an occasionally exciting, battle of wits. Whether you think that way though is almost certainly going to depend on whether you enjoy relying on luck rather than skill to win matches. You see, success in Blood Bowl is mostly determined by the throw of a dice.
Sadly, this means that no matter how tactically astute you are, you can fail to make the move that your tactics deserve because the dice says so. This can turn a game on its head in the space of a few seconds. Having to roll a '3' just to pick up a ball that your team is closest to is just one example of how harsh the rules can be. Indeed, the dice-rolling gameplay can make some matches frustratingly unpredictable. Nevertheless, fans of table-top games should know exactly what to expect, and they might even enjoy this game of chance, even though we didn't.
We were bored with the single player career mode rather quickly. Not only is it slow paced, but the opposition make some strange choices and will repeat tactics in different matches, so you'll be able to second guess what they're going to do next. In any sport's game, you'd expect the opposition to adapt to your tactics to try and win, but despite us jumping straight into matches without really knowing what we were doing, we were easily able to beat the opponent on the majority of occasions. When there's no real challenge, there's no real point playing.
Having spent some time at Games Workshop HQ in Nottingham actually playing table-top games, we're under no illusions that that is exactly where this kind of game belongs, with a gang of people around a table socially interacting. On Xbox 360, despite occasionally showing promise and providing entertainment - when you're winning that is – it fails to immerse you in its universe. The lack of customisation options that you'd expect from a Games Workshop game, such as custom teams, naming of individual players, or re-painting players, doesn’t help at all.
The exciting battles that we mentioned previously are generally restricted to the online arena, where you can set up private and public matches and create competitions. The omission of live leagues that appeared in the PC version is disappointing, but the beauty of playing online is that you can't predict how another human being will play so it makes for some tactically excellent matches.
The actual turn-based gameplay in Blood Bowl, specifically the way in which you choose your moves, is good and has been adapted well for console. We've also enjoyed watching the brutal violence escalate on the pitch. However, the appalling A.I. ultimately makes the single player career mode a real turn-off and the real-time mode is an add-on that was entirely unnecessary. Stick to the online arena however and fans of dice-rolling games should get a few kicks out of its tactically challenging gameplay. Just keep your fingers and toes crossed that the die roll in your favour.
Final Score - 5/10