Yes, we know: Madden 09 is fantastic and it%26rsquo;s going to sell four jillion-billion units. We get that. But you know what? It%26rsquo;s not the only football game in town. Like a 90-pound math nerd quietly taking jiu-jitsu so he can send the class bully crashing to the cafeteria floor, Blitz: The League II has spent a long time watching Madden and looking for a blind spot. And it%26rsquo;s found seven.
1. It has visceral, gut-wrenching injuries
Yes, Madden has injuries, but not like this. In Blitz: The League II, you can actually target specific areas when tackling an opposing player. When you strike successfully, you%26rsquo;re treated to a zoomed-in, CSI-style view of the anatomical wreckage so graphic it%26rsquo;ll have everyone in the room wincing and groaning.
You%26rsquo;ll see an ankle bend the wrong way until the cartilage holding the bones together is shorn into pieces. You%26rsquo;ll see a tough-to-identify organ in the groin area rupture. You may even see a skull fracture so big that the brain inside can see daylight through a hair-lined hole. This is gory stuff.
2. You can juice it up
Some gamers will argue there%26rsquo;s no such thing as a good performance-enhancing drug %26ndash; we suspect anyone currently using Viagra would beg to differ. In Blitz: The League II, you have the option to juice your players up with some nice, completely illegal PEDs (steroids sounds so unsophisticated). They cost crazy jack and if your players get caught using, the resulting controversy and fines will haunt your very existence, but the resulting stat boost will be worth it%26hellip; for some.
3. Brutal late hits aren%26rsquo;t illegal %26ndash; they%26rsquo;re rewarded
In Madden, as in the real NFL, a given play ends when the whistle blows. But here, you can actually make the poor bastard who had the ball wish he could go back to just being buried under an avalanche of sweaty, mud-and-blood covered man bods. For instance, you can rip his helmet off and smash it into his face a half dozen times. This not only affects his performance for the rest of the game, it%26rsquo;s sadistically satisfying.
4. Story mode actually exists
You play as the Franchise, the hottest new recruit the league has seen in years %26ndash; a superstar who dominates on both sides of the ball. You have a smarmy agent (voiced by Jay Mohr), an attitude that can put you at odds with corrupt league officials, distractions like girlfriends and other lifestyle-oriented pursuits, sponsorships, commercials, challenges from competitors%26hellip; you get the idea. There%26rsquo;s a story here.
Granted, all that story could possibly get in the way of the football, but we%26rsquo;re optimistic that it won%26rsquo;t. From what we%26rsquo;ve seen, it%26rsquo;s worth watching.
What do you do when you can%26rsquo;t legally get the one and only John Madden to do voiceover work for your game? You get Mad TV%26rsquo;s Frank Caliendo to do his best, funniest Madden imitation and make that the play-by-play commentary. It%26rsquo;s brilliant; eerily accurate sonically and hilarious because Caliendo%26rsquo;s crazy diatribes are only slightly more insane than the rants Madden himself splurts out every week.
This one is a bit of a toss, because Madden has weather too. But we have yet to see a player in Madden belly flop onto the snowy ground and slide forward another seven yards, or seen a ball squirt out of a player%26rsquo;s hands like it was greased thanks to rainy conditions. So we%26rsquo;re giving Blitz the edge until we%26rsquo;ve had extended time with both games.
7. Prison ball
Remember that story mode we mentioned? It leads to at least one very interesting game mode. %26lsquo;nuff said.
Aug 6, 2008