Blood Bowl II

Game review by
Jeff Haynes, Common Sense Media
Blood Bowl II Game Poster Image
Brutal fantasy-football sim has surprisingly deep gameplay.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Teamwork, persistence, triumph against odds undermined by focus on foul play, cheating, taking any steps to win.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players in league fight other players on field, brawl with hostile crowds, refs. Everyone for themselves, then their team.

Ease of Play

Deep, complex rule set governs all aspects of play; fate of players left up to dice rolls, which can be impossible to control, predict.

Violence

Players get punched, stomped, tripped, knocked out on field, assaulted by crowd. Lots of slow-motion, close-up highlights of painful blows; quick spray of blood when character is hit, but no gore shown.

Sex

Female characters, cheerleaders wear revealing, tight uniforms, move suggestively.

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "t-t," "damn" occasionally.

Consumerism

Based on popular Warhammer franchise, which includes books, games, figures.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some alcohol references; one team uses tankards to hit players.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Blood Bowl II is a downloadable action take on the sport of football, set in the fantasy world of Warhammer. Players coach teams of orcs, elves, dwarves, and other characters in turn-based action, attempting to defeat the other team. This is done by scoring touchdowns but usually also is handled by knocking opposing players out on the field. Players are frequently punched, stomped, tripped, or attacked by the unruly crowd and referees. Some blood is shown during hits on players, but no gore is shown. Female characters, such as cheerleaders and dark elven players, wear tight, revealing clothing and move suggestively. "F--k" and other profanity can be heard at times from the play-by-play commentators; players are mute. There are some alcohol references, and some players hit others with tankards on the field. Though multiplayer is unmoderated, there's no need for players to speak to each other, and it's optional for players to read league multiplayer notes.

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What's it about?

BLOOD BOWL II is a game of competitive football that's much more brutal than any matchup typically found on TV. A sequel of 2009's Blood Bowl, this title takes teams of dwarves, orcs, and eight other races that face off against each other on the gridiron in an unconventional version of the sport. Games take place over the course of two halves of eight turns for each team. Players can choose to either score as many touchdowns as possible, or you can try to injure as many of your opponents as possible. Players have the option to test their skills in a quick single-player match, can dive into a single-player campaign where they attempt to restore a fallen team to glory, or build and manage created teams. These squads then can be tested against other coaches in multiplayer leagues.

Is it any good?

Despite the carnage-filled title, this high-impact football simulation is a surprisingly deep sports game. True, the on-field violence is stronger than other football games because you can stun, injure, or even kill opponents with punishing hits. But under the blood sport (which shows very little blood), there's a lot of strategy waiting to be found. In fact, a roll of the dice affects every action you take, so you may need forethought, planning, and luck to succeed. This can be both exhilarating and infuriating at the same time. If Lady Luck is with you, your squad can create large opportunities on offense or defense, but one bad roll could cause you to cough up the ball, miss a throw, or get one of your star athletes brutally injured. You can influence these dice to a degree (and even purchase re-rolls for catastrophically failed attempts), but the simple fact is there are no guarantees.

This level of unpredictability makes gameplay shockingly even among every team, even though they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Sure, some teams (such as the Chaos squad or the Dwarves) may attempt to cheat or cripple your team, but even their violent tendencies can be overcome. If you find yourself consistently losing against a particular squad (especially if you're in the midst of a losing streak in a league), you can always attempt to upgrade your athletes or purchase special inducements to make your squad stronger. If you're a football, fantasy, or Warhammer fan, Blood Bowl II could possibly be your new favorite sports game.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in games such as Blood Bowl II. Since this game is set in a violent universe, does the amount of violence seem appropriate? Does it seem a bit over the top? How does that affect the gameplay?

  • Talk about strategy. How can you effectively maneuver your team to score points? Can you apply this tactical planning to other real-life scenarios?

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