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Bloodsport TV / 12th of April 2015

To begin with, I think it’s pertinent to point out that I am a relative newcomer to the MOBA genre, it’s never really been a style of game that has held very much appeal for me, and besides, I am primarily a console gamer after all. However, Toadman Interactive with their recent effort, Bloodsports.TV, might just be the chaps to change that, for, whilst it is certainly far from perfect, there’s still enough about this game to warrant future iterations to refine the formula. In the meantime though, let’s focus on the here and now.

For those that don’t already know, Bloodsports.TV is a 5v5 gladiatorial show set within a post-apocalyptic world, but it has been suitably enhanced with highly stylised visuals and a rather intriguing twist on the standard formula. In each match, players actually take control of the game’s villains, fighting wave after wave of foes, only to subsequently launch a missile in the direction of the homes of your conquered opponents. These foes, therefore, are simply attempting to defend their own homes from the aggressive advances of the player, and how rare it is to have the opportunity to assume a role beyond that of saintly hero! This makes for an intriguing change from the norm, and it surely gives Toadman’s efforts a unique edge over the competition.

As I assume that all gamers should be familiar with by now, skill moves are all assigned to buttons on the keyboard, all of these consume mana when utilised, and have short cool down periods to wait out before they can be employed again. Battles take place across six relatively small maps, each of which features a store wherein players can purchase items to enhance their character. These, naturally, are purchased with gold gained from vanquishing enemies. Simple right? Well, to confuse matters though, there are approximately thirteen different difficulty settings to choose from, these can obviously make enemies considerably faster and more damaging, but to top it off, there can be a constant slew of boss encounters to contend with a well. Depending on the length of the game, this can happen between once to three times per game, unfortunately though, they’re more than a tad samey as there are only three boss types in the game, so it simply cycles between them. To compound this, these can often signal the arrival of a severe difficulty spike, seeing full teams eradicated in no time at all, and this, rather sadly, can make Bloodsports.TV feel more than a tad frustrating.

As I have said previously, Bloodsports.TV, supports up to five players, who can choose from one of eight different characters who all fall under one of four different classes, these being: Bruiser, Medikus, Regulator and Slayer. To Toadman’s credit, classes do seem to be quite well balanced, though on low difficulty settings this doesn’t really show, but when playing on higher levels, teamwork is key, and utilising each class to the best of their abilities becomes essential to surviving matches.

Graphically, the game features a nice cel shaded style that mirrors Gearbox’s co-operative, post-apocalyptic efforts, it all looks certainly attractive enough but the game is prone to occasional frame rate dips, particularly when utilising picture-in-picture windows to highlight other goings on. The audio is certainly worthwhile, initially, but much like the inadequate number of bosses, both the soundtrack and the announcer dialogue have far too little by way of variation, and therefore repeat far too much, making them grate incessantly after only a short amount of play time.

Additionally, the means through which the characters advance is frighteningly restrictive, dubbed the Path to Glory, players are tasked with completing a series of challenges which are split into differing tiers according to their difficulty. In order to progress from one rank to the next, players are required to first meet several of the listed objectives, though these tasks are generally rather uninspiring and don’t require much effort. Doing so though, will see characters enhanced with various stat boosts, but this does mean that characters cannot really be personalised to a level that I would have liked, and it does limit a player’s ability to form any sort of connection with their favourite characters or classes beyond mere functionality, which is especially saddening.

Bloodsports.TV is certainly a rather interesting release, it’s definitely a more than competent effort from its developer, but it is sadly let down by those missing, potential key touches that would have truly allowed the game to shine. With just an extra little bit of polish, particularly in regards to the inclusion of audio content, more bosses and some additional customisation options, Bloodsports.TV has the potential to be a very, very good game indeed. However, for that, we’ll probably just have to wait for the inevitable sequel.

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