02-19-99 09:55 AM
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Blood2: Initial Impressions
Monolith delivers it's second LithTech-powered game less than a month after the first, and while we won't have a full review for a few days yet, here's a quick look at the final gold master. Those of you who have downloaded and played the demo already have a pretty good idea about what to expect, but the full game is quite a bit different in many ways. The two levels chosen for the demo are a bit more bright and "upbeat" in a sense than most of the levels I've played so far. Mouse control and overal performance has been greatly improved over the first version of the demo as well, and the final version performs and plays like the new updated demo. Still, the game can be a bit of a resource hog. Video performance appears to be about on par with Shogo, and framerates felt about the same (we tested on Pentium 2s with a TNT and Voodoo2 so far). The difference is that each Blood2 level uses more high-res textures and a lot more sounds, so there is quite a bit of hard drive access on systems with 64MB. This can be quite distracting, but when I turned the visual detail down to "medium" it still looked surprisingly good (most of these screen shots were taken on medium detail). Don't expect that Blood2 will perform on your system just as Shogo did simply because they use the same engine.
The level design is a big step up from the on-foot levels of Shogo, with more interesting and complex places, better textures, and more nifty little special effects. I've played through all of "Chapter 1" so far (I think there are 3 chapters), which has been about 10 levels. While some have been better than others, the overall design is dark and goomy and the layout is very well done. The plot is pretty thin--you're just chasing after Gideon, the leader of the Cabal, the whole time. Still, there are some decent in-game cut-scenes that are about as frequent and about as well done as Shogo's. I haven't had a chance to play multiplayer yet, but I loaded up some of the 14 DM levels and they all seem pretty well made, and this time none of them (that I tried) are just pieces of single-player maps. Player models also look a lot better than Shogo's humans.
Weapons are a blast. Where Shogo gave us high-powered Mecha weapons that cause big explosions, Blood 2 gives us meaty two-fisted action that makes lots of gibs and, naturally, blood. They seem balanced out fairly well, and I've already seen about 10 of them in the single-player game and all of them in multiplayer. A couple are a bit of a let down (the flare gun is underwhelming), but the good ones more than pick up the slack. If you've ever wanted to run around with a sawed-off shotgun in each hand blowing the motherloving snot out of everything you see, this is gonna be your game. True to the original Blood, there are quite a few items to use. One of them was called "the eye" and it is a riot! It's a disembodied eye that you drop on the ground and when you use it again, your view switches to looking around through this eye, with a blood-red tinge to everything. Final verdict will have to wait until I've had a chance to really play through the whole game thoroughly and get some BloodBath (deathmatch) games going, but so far it looks like Monolith's produced another winner. It's just a shame that, like Shogo, we'll have to wait a few weeks after release for internet play to be up to snuff.
Written by:Jason Cross