by Monolith Productions/GT Interactive

At first glance, Blood appears to be 'just another first-person 3D action game'. It takes something special to make a game like this stand out. Blood is one such game. Featuring an advanced version of the Build engine (more advanced than the one used in Duke Nukem 3D), Blood features some incredible effects. True room over room capability in the levels, fluid movement, and excellent high-res graphics are just a few examples of this. In Blood, you play a former member of The Cabal, a group of cultists dedicated to the black arts, and their dark leader. Betrayed by the cult, you rise from the grave to stake your vengeance, swearing to wipe their existence from human memory, destroying everything they have touched. It's killing time. At it's most basic level, Blood is nothing more then your run of the mill action game. However, there are a few things that make Blood special. First off, there are the weapons. Your most basic weapon is the pitchfork. Useful, but only at close range. Then there is the flare gun, which not only acts as a normal pistol, but when possible, sets your enemies afire as you watch and listen to them scream. There's your basic standby weapons, the shotgun and tommygun, as well as dynamite for the larger explosions. Then the innovation really kicks in. Hairspray combined with a lighter makes for one heck of a flame-thrower. The napalm launcher doses out a hearty attack, just keep it filled with gasoline. The tesla cannon fires off bolts of electricity that flash-fry your opponents very quickly. One of my personal favorites is the voodoo doll. Point yourself in the general vicinity of a bad guy, and stab away. You'll immediately see his reaction, and the best thing is, there's no wasted ammo. The life leech is the premier weapon of choice, but be careful since it will steal your own life should you run out of ammo. Each weapon has a secondary firing mode, making for an especially large number of ways to take out your opponents. The bad guys feature zombies (make sure they're dead, they sometimes rise up to attack again - torch 'em to be sure they're down for good), cultists, gargoyles, hellhounds, spiders (whose bites blur your vision or blind you for a time), and much more - all leading to the final conflict with Tchernobog. The game's graphics are wonderful, featuring realistic settings and textures. Sounds are truly awesome. The soundtrack features music by Type O Negative, and makes for a suitably eerie mood. The death screams of the cultists are probably the most realistic I have ever heard on a game of this type. Blood curdling sounds that almost make you feel sorry for them. Almost. When set ablaze, they let out with an 'It burns, it burns!', that never fails to inspire pity. As a matter of fact, the first time I set foot in lava, I was surprised to hear my own character let out with similar phrasing as well as 'Ow! ow! ow!'. You sure KNOW when you're being hurt. The real crowning touch of Blood has to be in it's level design. Simply amazing, I have not seen levels this well designed since Dark Forces. You get a real feeling of immersion into an interactive environment exploring these levels. A moving train, shipwreck, ice caverns, as well as the entire grounds for the 'Overlooked' hotel in an obvious tip of the hat to The Shining are only some of the truly innovative levels that comprise the game. Speaking of horror references, in addition to The Shining, settings from Frankenstein, Rosemary's Baby, Friday the 13th, Evil Dead and more may be found. Someone (maybe everyone) at Monolith loves horror movies. As for Blood, does the game live up to it's name? By the truckload. There is blood everywhere, from the fountains of it that spurt up as a zombie's head shoots off to the little cut scenes that pepper the space between the missions. Blood may be found everywhere. All the usual multiplayer options associated with Build are present, head to head, modem play, and Internet play via a dedicated service are all part of the game. It's hard to find fault with Blood, some of the bad guys look too pixelated and the AI is pretty dumb, but all things considered, it's an excellent game with enough differences from the norm to make it stand out from the rest of the first-person games on the market. If you're a horror fan, you will especially appreciate the references and jokes in the game.

Graphics 95%
Sounds 90%
Gameplay 95%
Interface 91%
Overall Impression 92%

Bottom Line: Buckets of blood, great level design, and tons of horror references make up one of the better first-person 3D action games to come out in quite some time. If you like games of this type, Blood will make a fine addition to your collection.

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