Witchaven II: Blood Vengeance
|a game by||Capstone Software|
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I Get Very Worried About The so-called moral majority sometimes. A character in a popular early-evening television drama serial has his entire family leave him, his house blown up, his illegitimate son arrive on the scene then contract bone cancer and die, his dog get run over by a lorry, and a national poll come out in the paper saying that everyone hates him. Then in a fit of understandable depression he utters the word "bastards" under his breath, with his back to the camera before the 9pm watershed and hundreds of Whitehouse Whingers are immediately on the phone to the tv company telling of their outrage. Meanwhile a game like Witchaven - with its blood, guts, gore, decapitation, violence and unjustifiable mutilation - is busy corrupting the minds of our gameplaying youth, turning them into dangerous psychopathic monsters, and no one bats an eyelid. That's the advantage of having a 'Gore On/Off button I suppose. Beats the V-Chip hands down. Anyway, all this is a rather convoluted way of saying that because it wasn't banned outright, the gore-filled Witchaven managed to sell enough to warrant a sequel. And here it is. Witchaven 2: The Return Of Blood. Or something.
This time things aren't nearly as bad on the old Gutsometer. Yes, there is still quite a bit of blood every time you hit someone, but there isn't nearly as much of the surrounding nastiness as there was first time round. Thankfully it seems that the designers have either calmed down a bit or attended numerous counselling sessions ("Hi everyone, my name's Brad. I'm a computer programmer and I'm addicted to innards") because now things are much more in the 'spooky' camp as opposed to the violent one. Obviously Hexen's had something to do with things here, as at first glance the two games are nearly identical.
That's perhaps the biggest problem facing Witchaven 2 - the fact that since the first game we've had Heretic, Hexen, Azrael's Tear and, of course, the Quake demos. We've now seen the 'medieval Doom' game from nearly every conceivable angle and because Witchaven 2 doesn't really introduce anything innovative or dever into the scene, it ends up looking more like an extra levels disk for the first game than a sequel, Everything's virtually the same, you see. The weapons are all the same, the spells, the potions, the goals for each level. There are some new monsters sure, and the weapons now have an 'enchanted' mode to make them more powerful, but it's all cosmetic icing rather than any serious restructuring of the game's own innards.
There's an indication that the programmers knew this however, as they've included a level editor with the game - an approach usually adopted when the company realise they can't take a game series any further and decide to let the public mess with the program while they work on something new. This is quite good fun in fact, better some might say than the actual game, and is easy to use which always helps. Sometimes these things can be so bloody complicated...
It's not fair to say that it's crap. It isn't. It's just as much fun as the first game was, the only problem now is that there's strong competition out there. It does everything right as far as quality gaming goes: the graphics are superb, the sound is suitably spooky, the action is fast and hectic, and the atmosphere is spot on - but it doesn't quite do enough to better the rivals.
It is weird, isn't it? I can say pretty much the same things about two games: one leads to a favourable review, the other doesn't. The only difference between them? Well, about half a year. This truly is a fast-moving industry, my friend. And unfortunately Witchaven 2 is struggling to keep up.
Download Witchaven II: Blood Vengeance
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP