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||June 5, 1997
||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 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
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.
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.
SFX & MUSIC
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
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
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.
- Graphics 92%
It just looks so damn gruesome... but it's hilarious too.
You can't help but enjoying it. It's not leaps and bounds ahead of Duke
3D, visually, but there ARE some very obvious improvements. Of course,
once you get up close and personal with ANY of the objects or creatures,
things begin to get blocky. At a distance it looks great, it's up-close where
the visuals begin to go. It's not true 3D... you can look at an object from
any angle and it will look the same. This is just a limitation of the 2.5D
Build engine. In its defense, Blood will remind you of how much more
immersive a Build game CAN be, because all those sprites can really pack in
the atmosphere. Blood has a more interactive atmosphere than
Interplay's Redneck Rampage, and it's at least equal in quality to
Duke Nukem 3D! That's not something you can say about too many games.
- Sound 94%
Wow, is this game creepy! The thrill of playing DOOM for the first
time is here, without ripping it off. Monolith have added their own bone
chilling sound effects and impressive background music. Blending in perfectly
with the visuals, Blood does an excellent job of convincing you that
you're really in this gruesome world by offering an audible cue for just
about everything you can touch or shoot. This is one area that other Build
games since Duke Nukem 3D have horribly failed at. Blood
matches Duke Nukem 3D here, and it even offers a ringside announcer
for deathmatch gameplay -- a deep and foreboding play-by-play that can only
be compared to what Mortal Kombat III offers. You also can't forget
about all the entertaining one-liners from your character and the rantings of
the creatures. Thank's to this, and to its use of 44khz sounds, this is the
best sounding Build game yet!!
- Gameplay 91%
Challenge, lots of it. What makes a game like this re-playable is a decent
level of challenge. There's no way you'll be walking through this entire
game in a few days without some help or cheats. The AI is some of the most
ruthless I've ever encountered, outside of some of the Reaper-Bots from
Quake! They're downright bent on vengeance, and they won't quit until
they've got your surrounded (in the case of the Axe Zombies), a good grip
around your throat (Hell Hands), or until they've fried yer ass good (Hell
Hounds). Blood is a fantastic game of "kill or be killed", but you're
not chasing around a bunch of dummies. Although some of them look pretty damn
stupid, they aren't. Lethal and amusing, they are very dangerous. You may be
so amused by their looks that you'll let your guard down, not realizing
these guys are here to kill you!! Cooperative play is the way to go in
Blood, and those thirsting for some blood can engage in
some Bloodbath (Blood's version of Dukematch or Deathmatch), and
Team Bloodbath with up to seven other players. It's also
fun to play soccer with the severed heads, blowing away mimes or innocent
bystanders, or to just play some of the truly demented carnival games.
I can't say it's better than Duke Nukem 3D, but if there's one game
in this genre that's come closer than any other, this is it! Personally,
I've enjoyed Blood a lot more than I have Duke Nukem 3D, or
even the recently released Shadow Warrior shareware version. It's
different, but the same in many ways. Visually, it's awesome. Aurally, it
MAY be even better than Duke Nukem 3D. Weave in some great
multiplayer options, ruthless AI, enough truly kick-ass weapons to please the
must destructive of 3D gamers, secondary firing capabilities for some of
them, 42 extremely spine tingling levels, a level editor, and most will find,
just as we do, that Blood is in the same league as Duke3D and
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