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A strength-sapping weapon you'd better use cautiously - it might start draining your own life force!
There has been a considerable "buzz" over the release of Blood, and snotty elitist that I am, this fact predisposed me to view it with suspicion. "OK -- Duke Nukem 3-D rides again," I reckoned. Given the glut of first-person shoot-'em-ups, this didn't seem like much cause for celebration.

But I changed my tune after spending some time in Blood's terrifying world. And, I can assure you, this one's gonna knock you out.

I wish I had one of these babies for everyday use - an ingenious addition to the Blood armory.
In the game's scenario, we meet Caleb, a gruesomely reanimated gunslinger out to avenge the fair Ophelia, whose hubby and child have been snuffed at the hands of the dreaded Tchernobog and his demonic minions. So, Clint Eastwood in Clive Barker-land? Naw, that's only the start of what turns out to be a genuinely terrifying journey through a Lovecraftian land of wanton destruction and dazzling imagination. A good dose of dark humor has also been transfused into Blood, which is, in fact, very reminiscent of Duke Nukem's gameplay, but vastly improved. The 3-D graphics and sophisticated game design bear the mark of true affection on the part of the production team; these folks are obviously enthusiastic gamers, and simply rehashing the tried and true wouldn't do.

You'll howl with sadistic glee as you decimate opponents (and surroundings ... and bystanders ... and ...) with an arsenal ranging from the expected guns and bombs to unusual items such as voodoo dolls and improvised, guerrilla-style aerosol flamethrowers. The various ghastly doings are rendered with a realism that'll either thrill you or scare the pants off of you. I had both reactions -- relishing the visceral fun of impaling annoying locals on my pitchfork, and cringing at the glass-shattering impact of my more high-powered weaponry. There are lotsa scuzzy hell-creatures and vermin to battle as you leave a trail of smoking rubble and gurgling gore through trains, houses of horror and all manner of other grim locales.

Another one bites the dust. Look a bit grisly? You ain't seen nothin' yet!
Of course, the gore spilled may well be your own -- each opponent is diabolically intelligent, and you'll have to learn the hard way which devices and defenses work against each nasty foe. The multidimensional environments, stunning realism of effects (check out the water and moving train simulations -- amazing!) and confounding puzzle-play combine to set a new standard for action shooters. Sound effects are realistic to a fault; timid types may want to turn the speakers low, and I ain't joshing. Along with the creepy music, these
sound effects go a long way toward thrusting you smack dab into Blood's macabre mayhem.

I had hoped I could be tougher on this title; who wants a reputation as a "soft touch" reviewer? But, call me George Washington, I cannot tell a lie. Blood will haunt your dreams (especially the "secret level" -- hommina hommina!) as completely as it challenges every facet of your gaming acumen. All this and wit, too. Check it out, toot sweet!

-- Michael James Murphy

Mike Murphy is a freelance writer and composer living on Long Island. He has just finished a new CD entitled "Willoughby," and enjoys cartooning, performing and savoring the music of Charles Ives and Brian Wilson.

1997 CMP Media Inc.

Staggering! For the first time since I began gaming (a long time ago), I actually found myself experiencing an emotional reaction to the environment: nervousness, panic, and actual fear. And what a magnificent environment it is. Blood rules!

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