As cult classics go, Blood Bowl is one of those flawed gems which has endured through the years. While suffering from a flawed start and plagued by design issues, Cyanide Studios’ creation nevertheless was praised for capturing the spirit of the table-top classic. The grim exaggerated humour, the colourful teams and brutal kills, all were on display. Well, now they’re back with a sequel, and the result is a definite step forwards despite a few issues.
For those not in the know, Blood Bowl is the end result of mashing American Football with Warhammer Fantasy. Rather than seeing mages, Swordmasters and Black Orks beat one another to a pulp on the battlefield, they instead settle their disputes on the field. The end result is violent, gory, and downright bizarre at times, and riddled with cheating. These elements the game utterly nails, from the management of your team’s budget to the frustration found in the deaths of star players.
The most noted improvement is an enhanced management system to keep teams organised and a vastly improved visual aesthetic. With much more dynamic graphics, colourful pitches and the “kill cam” proves to be an especially welcome addition to the action. Retaining a steep difficulty curve and gradual turn-by-turn risk management is crucial to the game, and the improved AI ensures that no victory is ever easy. There are a wide variety of teams on offer from the very start, and each sticks to its core gimmicks from the table-top.
While the strengths of the table-top game shine through, some might find frustration in some of the balance issues. Never intended to be taken all that seriously, not all of the teams are evenly made with a few joke variants still showing up here and there. That’s all part of the game’s charm admittedly, but a slight flaw takes things further. Some seem oddly unfinished in their team structures, and you’ll often find yourself suffering from uneven rosters part way into a league. Furthermore, even the very game itself is shaky in places as if it were rushed out the door. With no options or customisable settings for PC users, optimisation can be a serious issue for underpowered machines. Furthermore, multiplayer league management seems minimal at best, with few settings and a poorly planned user interface. These can easily be fixed over time, but at the moment they are definitely hampering Blood Bowl’s core appeal.
With more teams and updates on the way, this is definitely one worth looking into for the future. At the time of release however, it’s simply okay. Good enough to satisfy established fans, but frustrating to new users.
BLOOD BOWL 2 / DEVELOPER: CYANIDE STUDIOS / PUBLISHER: FOCUS HOME INTERACTIVE / PLATFORM: PC, PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW