Monday, January 11, 2010

Blood Bowl for the PC mini review

I had been looking at the PC version of the Games Workshop tabletop classic for a while. Since it was released I was pondering getting it, but a less than stellar demo turned me off the full version for a few months. Recently the creator of the digital version, Cyanide Studios, announced that they were adding Dark Elves to the game as a free add on. With this in mind I grabbed the Dark Elves version on Steam and off I went.


Now a little background about me and tabletop miniature games. I have been playing them since I was about 12 or 13, in my old age I cannot remember. I just hit 40 last week so cut me some slack. I had the original Bloodbowl back when it came with a styrofoam board which was pretty awesome. The game had a good lore and history attached to it and was really the introduction to Games Workshop for me. Unfortunately I never really got Bloodbowl. I was bad and I kept trying to play it like a regular wargame and it just didn't click with me. I need armies, commanders, ranks and terrain to be effective. I also tried to play the game too much like American Football which is not the way to go. Or I would simply get mad and try to kill everyone on the field.

So as the years went on I abandoned Blood Bowl even though a huge faction of my old tabletop group went on to play that exclusively. Finally, with the robust multiplayer and the multiple patches, I gave in and got the PC version of the game. Let me just say that some company out there needs to look at what Cyanide Studios has accomplished here and COPY this method for the Warhammer Fantasy tabletop version. Not an RTS, not a Dawn of War 2 clone, but an honest to god translation of the miniatures game to PC with multiplayer challenge modes built in. Cyanide Studios has PROVEN that a direct to PC translation can be done, with the option to go RTS.

That aside I need to point out that I am terribad at this game. This attests to how faithful it is to the board game. There are several modes you can play the PC version in, including a rather shaky real time mode I do not care for, so you can pick the degree to which you want to learn it.

A good place to start with this game is the game's actual forums here

http://www.cyanide-studio.com/forumBB/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=13147

The tutorial included in the game is downright awful. You will need, if you are a first time Bloodbowl player, to consult the strategy guide and rulebook to know what the hell is going on underneath the hood. My Steam version came with the rulebook and a digital PDF strategy guide so that may be your best bet.

The game features die rolls on screen, player upgrades, a full campaign mode, online multiplayer WITH leagues you can form, team creation, player creation, bribing refs, spending gold for upgrades on teams and equipment and the whole nine yards.

The graphics are outstanding as each player has animations and race specific moves as well as unique touchdown animations. Every game is announced real time by voice over announcers that, while they have some funny jokes, repeat a few things after a while that may be grating to one's nerves.

There are a few niggles I have that I overlook though. Too many cut scenes, long load times to get a game started, and a map that doesn't seem to allow me to rotate it irritate me a bit, but I usually just wait it out because the on field action is so good and strategic I cannot stop playing it. I have yet to find a team I am comfortable with and know in and out. That is part of the game, as well as the miniature version. One of the best pieces of advice I gave when playing tabletop was to try out a friends teams or use placeholder items and practice before spending the money on a team you do not like.

I started with dwarves, then orcs, then humans and still have not found my niche. I like to be a fast player, score quickly and throw a lot. So far I am having miserable success and after 3 hours this weekend have not won a game yet....ON EASY MODE.

At any rate, if you want proof a miniatures game can be brought to the PC in a faithful recreation and not be all RTS and twitch oriented, then look no further at what has been done with this title. Now I just need to get in there and re learn the actual rules of the game. There are hours of playtime in the campaign and season modes but I need to know what the hell I am doing.

I have uploaded a HD You Tube video of one of the few touchdowns I did score with my human team, which you can watch here: