Support us by supporting our sponsors!

PCM&E; Review June 5, 1997
Blood from Monolith and GT Interactive

This is one of the few titles we feel is worthy of our coveted PCM&E; Excellence in Achievement Award.
We give this award to any game that scores 90% or more in EVERY category (not just overall).

Just when you thought the Build engine had seen enough action, along comes Monolith to breath some new death in to it! Off-hand, I can think of only three products which use enhanced Build engine: Apogee/3D Realms' Shadow Warrior, Interplay's Redneck Rampage and Blood. What's an enhanced Build engine? What does it have over good ol' Duke Nukem 3D?

Some of the lighting effects are better. Energy bursts from some of the creatures look like nothing I've ever seen in Duke Nukem 3D. There's also the ability to build rooms over rooms, and sloped floors and ceilings. Blood's version of the graphics engine is just generally more tweaked than the one that drove Duke3D to overwhelming success. It's still a 2.5D engine, but like Duke Nukem 3D, Blood makes you forget the limitations of its pseudo-3D code, impressing you with the obvious advantages of this type of engine over a real-3D engine ala Quake (more details on slower PCs).

Blood doesn't look light years ahead of the Duke, but it's safe to say if you loved the visuals of Duke3D or Shadow Warrior, you'll equally enjoy the hand-drawn cartoony look of this game. The main difference is that Blood is more graphically gorrified than any other game of this genre, with the Shrak total conversion for Quake from Quantum Axcess coming in a close second. Blast a zombie in Blood, then blast it again. Only after it's been blasted enough times, spewing gore all about since the initial impact, does it finally meet its explosive demise, spreading guts and a shower of red rain all over the place. Decapitating an Axe Zombie will result in his headless body spewing blood from the twitching stump. Gruesome...

The use of textures in each of the levels if VERY impressive. These guys can crank out some very spooky kick-ass-lookin' levels! I found a pretty creepy hedge maze in a level entitled The Overlooked Hotel, featuring a frozen Jack sitting on his knees with an axe. A more memorable level was like something torn right out of Friday the 13th (Crystal Lake). Monolith has parodied some of the most frightening movies of all time within their game. Suffice to say, it works well, and it shows off their sense of humor. On one level you'll see Freddy Krueger's sweater and hat hanging on a wall, right down the hall from some furnaces. Like with Duke, there are several screen resolution modes to choose from: 320x200, 320x240, 640x480 and 800x600 are supported. Each one looks great, even 320x200 (which is very playable on a lower-end Pentium). In between the action, after you've killed a boss creature, and at the beginning and ending of the game you'll get to view some pretty humorously gory full screen animated cut scenes. They're nothing super-spectacular, they just use them to move the story line along.

It's creepy and it's spooky, it's downright very pukey, it's Blood! These guys have come up with some terrifying screams, moans and howls for the goons which their game throws at you. They give the game that certain edge which can only be compared to the first time you played DOOM. The screeching moans of your own demise are quite spectacular and come as a surprise, the first time you experience them. Also fun is listening to one of the robed goons yelling "It burns, it burns." as they become engulfed in flames from the flare which you so kindly embedded into their chests. Were it not for the horror of it all, Blood would really be very funny. Ahh.. screw it, it IS very funny!

Some levels will have a number of innocent bystanders running around for your shooting pleasure. Once you've plugged them a few times, they'll shout some real funny one-liners like "There's no place like home." and "Please don't shoot!". The robed goons, which bear a striking resemblance to the monks from Rise of the Triad, run around mumbling (in what sounds like a foreign language) something that could only be described as chants of worship. Along with your dying moans of pain, you'll hear a deep spooky voice (similar to Mortal Kombat's announcer) make smart-ass comments like "Unassisted Death" when you fall off a cliff, killing yourself... or "Scrotum Separation" in other instances (you figure it out). The zombies even borrow a line from the cult classic Return of the Living Dead as they walk around exclaiming "More Brains!". Other roam about screaming "Join us!". To top off an exciting audio repertoire, your character is just as much a smart-ass as 'ol Duke. Yes, Caleb (that's his name) will say some pretty amusing things like "I did it my way." and "There's no business, like show business, like no business I know!". If you enjoyed Duke Nukem 3D, you obviously have a great sense of humor, and you'll find Blood to be even more immersive. It's not just the chatter that goes on in the game that makes it audibly fantastic, it's the sounds of excruciating pain and the downright nauseous SFX that you hear when you poke someone with a pitchfork, or when bowels hit a wall after a close encounter with the ol' sawed-off, or from a bundle of explosives going off at close range.

Atmosphere: thick, spooky, creepy and hilarious, all wrapped up into one fantastic game. Crazy innocents who've gone mad run about ranting. Robed followers of the demonic leader (the end boss of all end bosses) tote tommyguns and shotguns. Best of all, the baddies are pretty damn smart! The robed followers will stop, drop, and roll while shooting at you. Hellhounds will chase you down, as will the spiders, and most all other creatures you'll encounter in Blood. Don't let their looks deceive you. They act dumber than they look, until you get their undivided attention. Creeping under the murky depths, you'll run into some man-sized piranhas called Gill Beasts, alongside whom you will encounter regular-sized man-eating fish called Bone Eels. Black-robed Cultists carry machine guns, brown-robed Cultists shoot at you with a single-shot ballistic weapon (my guess is that it's a single-shot shotgun), and some will toss explosives at you. The Hellhounds are the most annoying, as they will literally chase you down, spitting fire at you until you begin to burn and die a miserable horrific death. Extra-crispy or original recipe? ;-)

Winged terrors come at you with a vengeance, in three varieties no less. The first is your average bat, the second a more agitating (very fast) bone chucking Gargoyle. The last is a much larger gargoyle, the Stone Gargoyle. This creature shoots powerful energy bursts at you through its eyes. That damn thing sucks! It takes a lot of firepower to nail those creeps. The undead consist of your run-of-the-mill zombie variety, with the equivalent of the Quake Grunt (although much smarter) being the most common. Three well-placed shots from your shotgun will kill the Axe Zombie, but they'll go down two times playing dead, then coming back to life each time, until you've fed them that fatal third blow, completely blowing their head off. Another undead pain-in-the-ass is the chubby bald farmer-joe-looking zombie. His name? Fat Zombie.

This moron throws what looks like a cleaver at you, and he also spews a massive green loogie which can be very fatal if it makes contact with your skin. One of the more fiendish creatures you'll encounter is the Phantasm. This large floating grim-reaper-look-alike is a tough kill! There's also Shail, Mother of all Spiders, and the two-headed hellhound, Cerberus, will be one of the toughest creatures you'll ever encounter, leaving only Tchernobog -- The One That Binds, as the boss of all boss creatures. He is a big, scary, lurking death. Other, less threatening creatures, include spiders, rats, and the very entertaining severed hand. You'll probably die laughing when you encounter a Hell Hand. These little creatures run all over the place, trying to chase you down. You just can't help but to laugh because they're SO DAMN FUNNY, making their little comments and tapping along the floor trying to catch you. A good shot from your shotgun will send them to their maker, but don't let them get too close or you'll find one wrapped around your throat!

Blood offers a well-balanced variety of monsters, each with his own level of intelligence and personality. The AI of these goonies is generally very good. Good enough to give the game that "just right" level of challenge which most games of this genre fall short of.

With all these creatures, you'll need some serious firepower to stay alive. Monolith has that area covered. The variety of weapons is like nothing any other game of this genre can match (except for Quake, which lets you create your own). Personal favorites include the Voodoo Doll, the Aerosol Spray Can & Lighter Combo, the Napalm Launcher, and the Flare Gun. The Voodoo Doll is interesting because as you run around, it flops about in your hand like a rag doll. Aim it at a foe, and your right hand sticks it madly with a huge pin as the enemy lets loose with agonizing moans until they eventually drop dead. The flare gun is pretty cool too. Fire at a creature, and a few seconds later they'll ignite completely, running about engulfed in flames, eventually meeting their demise. Like any game in this genre, Blood just wouldn't be complete without a rocket launcher. Monolith took a slightly different route with their Napalm Launcher. One shot from this baby and it's flambe' ala goon.

I'm wondering if any one of the developers are named Beavis, because these Monolith guys sure have a thing with FIRE. The Aerosol Spray Canister & Lighter Combo is a good example of this. As you may or may not know, squeeze the trigger on an aerosol can add a little flame, and you get a simplistic flame thrower (Disclaimer: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.. WE WILL NOT BE HELD LIABLE FOR ANY RESULTING DAMAGE OR LOSS OF LIFE). That's just what you get in Blood. A few concentrated bursts at some of the weaker foes and they'll catch fire as if you'd shot them with the flare gun. Ballistic weapons include a fully automatic tommy-gun, and the double-barrelled shotgun. There are three different types of dynamite. First is the 'ol tossable variety -- aim, light, and throw. The second one is similar to the proximity bomb of Duke Nukem 3D -- toss it, and once an enemy gets a little too close, BOOM! The third type of explosive is similar to the pipebomb in Duke 3D. Throw the bundle, wait until you're ready to detonate it, hit the fire button again, and BOOM. Best of all, throwing explosives in Blood is cool, because the longer you hold down the fire key the farther you'll toss the explosives. I was able to blow up a bunch of Cultists from a distance I didn't dream possible, with just one toss. The big daddy of them all is the Life Leech. This skull-topped staff is Monolith's equivalent of the BFG 9000, only it uses creepy black magical powers to do away with everything in its path.

Last, but certainly not least, is the electrifying Tesla gun. This will light up just about any of the foes that Blood can toss at you. When you've run out of ammo and there's nothing left to use, the only weapon you can fall back on is the pitchfork... not much, but what a sadistic weapon it can be in Bloodbath matches. ;-)

What's even more unique about Blood is that most weapons have a secondary ability. Hitting the "X" key will ignite the aerosol canister. Drop it, and it will blow up like a molotov cocktail. Using the secondary fire capabilities of the Tommy Gun will spray lead from side to side instead of in a straight line. There are a bunch of unique power-ups too. Of course, you'll find ammo all around -- shotgun shells, gas canisters for the napalm launcher, boxes of flares, etc. Armor and additional life power-ups are also available, with five different types of armor: spirit armor, super armor, life armor, fire armor, body armor and basic armor. There are many items to snag as you make your way through the gruesome levels, like guns akimbo. This will give you double tommy guns, flare guns or shotguns for a short period of time, increasing your firepower temporarily. Other items include Beast Vision, the Crystal Ball (giving you the ability to see where other opponents are in Bloodbath matches), temporary invincibility with the Death Mask, and higher jumping capabilities with the Jump Boots. Bullets will bounce off you, back at your attacker with the Reflective Shots power-up, and a Doctor's bag allows for you to carry some instant health around with you.

In all, there are 42 chilling levels, spanning four separate episodes of some of the best levels ever created using the Build engine! Each one has a very different and very disturbing presence about it. What makes Blood as good, if not even better than Duke 3D, is how well you can interact with your environment. Shoot a wall, and blast damage scars the walls. Blast a creature with the aerosol can & lighter, flames will surround the foe. Shooting large vases, lamps, bottles, or just about anything in the game gives you audio feedback, and most of the time each object can be destroyed. Light switches can be turned on and off, and many of the levels, although very creepy, give you the sense of being in the real world, with apartments complete with furnished kitchens, stoves, fridges, etc. The hospital resembles an actual hospital, morgue and all. The environments in Blood may be the most interactive ever offered in a first person perspective, 3D shooter!

Tie all that together with great multiplayer options, and an entire fifth episode consisting of 9 specific Bloodbath levels, with options for Team Bloodbath, Bloodbath and Cooperative Play over a modem, LAN or serial connection. Best of all, unlike Duke Nukem: Atomic Edition, you don't have to go out and buy an extra copy of the game for each person who wants to participate in multiplayer games. That's right folks, this is another great TRUE multiplayer game, right out of the box! We ran into a few problems with Blood over our LAN and in modem games. We keep getting out of sync errors over the modem or over our LAN. This was a problem with the Blood SW as well, and they were supposed to have addressed this issue in the final version, but it doesn't look like that has happened. Although we'll get an out-of-sync error, it looks as if we sync back in and can continue playing without any problems... but that damn error message stays at the top of the screen until we begin a new level!

Blood comes with two CDs. The first is the actual game, along with many different on-line gaming service software installations, and the Blood editing tools. There's an entire second CD with an AWESOME full-length video from Type-O-Negative: "Love you to Death"! Wow, those guys rock! They also stuffed the second CD with other GT Interactive shareware titles, with SW versions of Rebel Moon Rising, Tigershark and Star Command.

Blood is the best game to come along (using the Build engine) since Duke Nukem 3D. I'd be pushing it if I said it was better than Duke, but I REALLY do enjoy it a lot more than I do playing Duke 3D these days. It's new and fresh. Well... maybe not fresh, how about stinky and rotten, in the best way possible, considering its content? :-)

I'm sure some parents and certain groups will protest, but this is just a game, and it doesn't condone evil -- it condones fighting evil. There's a parental control option, just like with the Duke. Gory sights, horrifying sounds, detailed levels, challenging AI and great multiplayer options round out what is one of the best action games of 1997. There's not a lot you could ask for which Blood doesn't already offer.


PCM&E; Product InfoBox
Send mail to the author: Rod White
Send mail to the editor/webmaster: Michael Bendner

Back to PCM&E;'s Adrenaline Zone

This page and its contents are © 1997 - PC Multimedia & Entertainment Magazine