|a game by||Monolith|
|Editor Rating:||7/10, based on 5 reviews|
|User Rating:||9.3/10 - 3 votes|
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From the creators of Duke Nukem 3D comes their latest corridor shooter, Blood. A forgotten god is trying to wipe out the human race, and guess what? You're the only person who can stop it. Armed with weapons like a pitchfork, a voodoo doll, flare guns, and an aerosol can with a lighter, you battle hell hounds, zombies, and gargoyles--just to name some of the evil you'll face. Blood looks full of gore--you can even play soccer with decapitated heads. 3D Realms is out to top Duke, and these screen shots look like it's succeeding.
Get ready for Blood, the latest corridor shooter from the creators of Duke Nukem. This game more than lives up to its title with gore galore and intense run-n-gun mayhem.
In the shareware version that we played, you battle zombies, gun-toting monks, winged demons, and other monsters. To even the odds, you're armed with some nasty weapons, including pitch-forks, shotguns, machine guns, voodoo dolls, and dynamite. Employing these weapons results in gruesome, over-the-top deaths, like monsters running around and screaming after you set them ablaze with your flare gun. And although the emphasis in Blood is on blasting bad guys, the game contains puzzles and various mission objectives that test your thinking skills.
Colorful visuals and atmospheric audio bring the carnage to life. Graphically, Blood's loaded with lots of gory red sprites and big explosions. Soundwise, the creepy, subtle music works well for the different stages,-and the audio effects really shine with loud explosions and humorous gibberish uttered by the game's various demented monk monsters.
The controls on the shareware version perform beautifully. The only hitch is imprecise aiming when you fire at a target above or below you, but we hope 3D Realms will fix that on later revs.
For corridor-shooter mayhem, Blood looks like the game to get. We'll have a review of the full version of Blood in an upcoming issue.
Blood's the latest in the line of corridor shooters to pop-up in the wake of Duke Nukem and Quake--but it's more than a mere clone. It's got personality, gore galore, and challenging levels that'll keep you playing for hours.
You Gotta Have Blood
Blood's premise is simple: You're seeking revenge on an evil master who sent you to your grave. And while your character doesn't have Duke's gaudy personality and attitude, he does have some clever one-liners of his own--all spoken with staccato, Clint Eastwood inflections. He also has a demented, maniacal laugh that usually punctuates large explosions.
Blood pits you against zombies, fire-breathing hell hounds, gun-toting monks, flying gargoyles, and other monsters eager to send you back to the grave. Helping you send them there first are several weapons, but they're hardly the usual selection of heavy military firepower you'll find in other corridor shooters. You use a pitchfork, flare gun, dynamite, and even a voodoo doll. Most of these weapons have double functions: You can fire one or both barrels of the shotgun; and you can use the aerosol can as a flamethrower or throw it as a napalm bomb.
Blood's grisly, violent, and goes over the top--it makes Duke and Doom look like a Disney cartoon. Enemies are crushed, dismembered, burned alive, and blown to pieces--and that's just for starters. At times the carnage's so out of hand, all you can do is laugh at it. Yet the game does have a sense of humor, especially with levels and dialogue that pay clever homage to contemporary cinema. One level is Camp Crystal Lake from Friday the 13th. and you'll hear lines like "You're going to need a bigger boat" from Jaws.
The game's levels will task even the most seasoned corridor-shooter veteran: They're huge and filled with traps and secrets in a variety of settings. Some of these include a moving train, a city during an air raid, and within the pulsating, bleeding walls of God-knows-what. Blood also features an impressive A.I. Some enemies actually crouch and use walls for cover rather than blindly attack you head-on.
"It Burns! It Bums!"
The visuals and audio do a decent job, but are far from perfect, while the graphics are effective and gruesome. Monsters die in gory detail, right down to streams of crimson that follow exploding limbs. The surroundings are also well-depicted with blood-red skies and foreboding buildings. The biggest drawback is that objects and monsters loose detail and blur into a mass of pixels when up close.
On the audio side, the sound effects are excellent--everything from the monks' gibberish and pain-filled shrieks to the jarring explosions are crystal clear. The music, however, doesn't fare as well: It ranges from creepy and effective to droning and monotonous. It's biggest problem is it overshadows important sound cues-like monsters lurking around corners and traps being sprung.
The controls are almost perfect, impaired only by imprecise vertical aiming. It's difficult to pinpoint distant targets, and sniper shooting becomes trial-and-error.
Blood is Good Fun
Blood's flaws are easily swept aside when your guns start blasting and the bodies start falling. If you crave a good, violent corridor shooter, this is a great addition to your PC library. It's bloody fun--right down to the last drop.
- When the gargoyles land you can easily dispose of them with a double-barreled shotgun blast.
- Before jumping into a body of water, lob in a few bundles of TNT to blow up any monsters that may be waiting below the surface.
- The voodoo doll is a wonderful weapon--ft lets you kill enemies from tong distances. Be careful when using it, however--if there are no enemies in view when you stab the doll, you'll take the damage.
- Be leery of gargoyle statues that bre near keys--they may spring to life when you grab the key. Use the pitch1 fork to move the statues far away, or to push them, over a cliff, or Into a lake, before getinf the key.
- The hell hounds can give you a real hotfoot if you get close. To defeat them, have them chase you into a lake or body of water. You can also blast them with the tesla cannon.
- Lure enemies into each other's attacks and watch them fight to the death.
- Throw dynamite or fire napalm at cracks in the walls to reveal hidden areas.
- Flare gun works best on zombies--it engulfs 'em in flames, burning 'em to a crisp.
- Don't hold the aerosol can too long after you light it--it may explode in your hands!
Hot on the heels of Duke Nukem 3D, Blood takes a turn toward the dark side with this horror-themed splatter-test. In your quest to obliterate the Secret Society, you blast through fortresses, mines, and mansions, reducing zombies, cultists, gargoyles, hellhounds, spiders, and other icky creatures into gooey piles of entrails. From a first-person Doom-style perspective, you fight with a bundle of nasty weapons, including pitchforks, dynamite, flamethrowers, voodoo dolls, tommy guns, and more. Rendered 3D graphics vividly portray every last gallon of blood as you and up to seven buddies hack it out over a network.
Blood is the first major release from Monolith Productions, a small development house located in Kirkland, Washington. Blood is the computer gaming equivalent of the film The Crying Game,having been produced by an unknown independent using pooled employee earnings, borrowed money, and lots of late nights at the keyboard. Given its background, I really wanted to like Blood. And I did, to some extent. But as you read on, you'll discover that sometimes determination and inspiration are not quite enough.
Blood has a story of sorts (something about a Texas man in 1847 who started worshipping and serving some Dark Lord or other), but suffice it to say that once you start playing, the story gets tossed out the window. You certainly don't need to be aware of the, uh, "nuances" of the story in order to succeed in the game.
Blood plays like most other 3D shooters on the market today. You run around these levels and choose the right weapon to destroy whatever "unspeakable horror" you happen to run across. Along the way, you pick up ammo, health, and special items, and shoot more creatures... yadda, yadda, yadda. The controls are pretty much identical to those used in Duke Nukem 3D, so you won't have to learn anything to get started.
Blood has 4 episodes, each with 6-8 levels. Some of the levels were very creatively designed, many with a theme. (There was a level that took place at a carnival, one on a train, another on a ship, etc.) But the majority of the levels are of the four-walls-and-a-ceiling variety. It seems like Monolith spent a lot of time and effort on a few really cool levels, and then felt pressed to add a bunch of ad-hoc levels at the last minute. The result is an inconsistency that becomes distracting. You play through an awesomely rich and fun level, only to end up in some stereotypical "castle" as a reward on the next level.
One thing that greatly disappointed me was the showdown sequence at the conclusion of the first episode, and it will serve as a good example of the game's somewhat slapped-together feel. After several enjoyable levels, Monolith decided to cap off the episode with one of those one-on-one, you-against-the-big-monster motifs. Oh boy. The big monster in this case was a large stone gargoyle that, according to the book, was "nigh invincible." I'd have to agree with that assessment. Even after resorting to God mode, it took me something like 50 missiles to kill the infernal beast. So here's the punch line: after I was finally victorious, you would imagine that I got a big rousing video or at least some text saying "Congratulations. You have vanquished [evil foe name here] and have saved all humanity." Right? Wrong. Instead, the creature screamed, flopped, and then my screen froze momentarily (making me think I'd have to reboot). Finally, Monolith's animated ad appeared. Huh? Oh, I guess I have to start the next episode with a new character...
Blood's graphical engine is very similar to that used in Duke Nukem 3D. The danger in using an already popular engine, though, is that your game (especially if it's released two years later) must offer some improvements upon the original engine to get noticed, or at the very least must live up to the expected level of excellence in implementing that engine in a new environment. Blood is a bit like having a Volkswagen bus with a V8 thrown under the hood. The V8 offers a lot of potential, but you need control over it in order to take advantage. Furthermore, the mere nature of the somewhat antiquated bitmap-based engine means that Blood won't make a good showcase piece for your new Monster Ultra Gold Voodoo 3D card (or whatever).
Let it be said that there are some nice visual effects in the game, including the ability to shoot bullet holes in the walls or kick gibbed zombie heads around a level like so many soccer balls. But these effects are simply that -- effects. They make for an interesting diversion, but can't hide the fact that the engine technology used in Blood is a bit outdated and somewhat disjointed in its implementation from level to level. The monsters themselves are really nothing new, visually. You've got your monks and gargoyles from Heretic, your zombies from Quake, along with a few bats, rats and spiders.
In this respect, Blood's a winner. You won't hear much music, but the sound effects are top-notch and at times were the only thing that kept me playing. I loved it when I threw a pack of TNT at a bunch of zombies and was rewarded with a huge BOOM that literally shook the room. And the monks run around with Tommy guns and incessantly shout at you in some half-baked brand of Latin. It's funny, but it also lends your foes a certain personality and makes it all the sweeter when you stick a missile up their backside. Add to this the fact that your character likes to spontaneously burst into somewhat pitiful renditions of Irving Berlin songs, and the audio in Blood gets an A+.
3D shooters traditionally don't provide, or need to provide, much documentation. Such is the case here as well. Along with a somewhat forced story are the usual weapon, item, and enemy descriptions.
DOS 6.2 or better (works with Win 95), P-75 or faster processor, 16 MB RAM, 80 MB hard disk space, 4X CD-ROM drive, SoundBlaster or compatible sound card, VGA display @ 256 colors
Reviewed on: P-120, 32 MB RAM, Diamond Stealth 64 video, 16X CD-ROM drive
If Monolith could have tied the level design and action more closely to a real storyline, worked to smooth the engine a little, and created a few new types of monsters, Blood might have risen another notch or two up the 3D food chain. As it stands, the game is a little too uneven to be successful. There are some redeeming moments of wit and creative level design, but unless you've played all the way through better games likeQuake, Eradicator or Outlaws, you may want to try one of them instead.