By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
lood 2 was released so long ago, that you're probably scratching your head and attempting to figure out why we're reviewing it so dang late. Well, while Blood 2 was shipped in time for the Christmas season, it is a regular loonygames policy not to review games until any mission critical patches have been released. While Blood 2 may still have some bugs left in it (most notably in its multiplayer game) I finally decided it was time to review the game.
First of all, if you've purchased the game, and weren't aware, the patch can be obtained from Monolith's website. The patch will make your old save games unusable, so I highly recommend upgrading before you start playing the game. The patch fixes a number of major compatibility issues, as well as adding a few bonus features you won't want to be without, so be sure to download it. Now.
So okay, you've downloaded the patch and installed the program. By now you've noticed that the game is freaking big as all heck. Monolith's last game had a minimum installation of 100 megs, and a recommended of 400, which is certainly large, but jeez…Blood 2's minimum is 175 with a suggested of 450 megs. I'm just happy I've got that 10 gig HD installed here, but I can see quite a few people having to remove programs in order to make that suggested install size. Between this and Baldur's Gate you better hope you've got a decent sized HD. Or, if you don't…well…go get one. :)
That aside, let's talk about Blood 2: the game. Blood 2 is an interesting game, because it's so…expected. There aren't really many surprises to be found in Blood 2. When I say that, I'm referring to the plot, which is pretty much a cookie cutter excuse to throw bad guys at you, but also the look, feel, and flow of the game, which while technically well made, is somewhat lacking in originality. But, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Blood 2 carries on the tradition of the original Blood, and in that regard it excels.
Basically Blood 2 is about one thing, and one thing only: violence. Can you say…"sign me up?" Hey, I'll admit it…I like violence. Hell, I dare say that I really enjoy violence. The gorier the better. I need a good escape now and then. And if it's violence you crave, then be sure to pick up Blood 2. Because while the game doesn't offer anything new, it does the violence thing extremely well.
The game's plot goes something like this: it's been 100 years since Blood 1, and Caleb, that game's hero, has been, "walking the earth" ever since then. While he's been wandering around aimlessly, The Cabal, the group of evil bad guys from the first game, have started Cabalco a major corporation that has its fingers in all kinds of economic stuff that has nothing to do with violence. (So therefore it's not important here.) The evil-bad-yet-rich-and-powerful guys want to restore their Dark God (who you may recall was killed in the first game…he couldn't have been a very powerful god to be killed by a walking corpse with a pitchfork). You don't want this to happen, since Bad StuffTM would go down if that happens, so you pull out your trusty-rusty knife and go off to kill you some cabalists. Okay, it's a silly plot, no question. One quick beef: if Caleb's been around all this time, why didn't he just kill all the remaining cabalists back when they were just a mom n' pop operation? Oh well…I guess if I think about it too long my head will hurt, and I won't want to play the game anymore…best not to dwell on that.
Like I said…Blood 2 isn't exactly about storytelling. It's about relentless, wacky violence and snappy one-liners. And hey…it's good at doing that. You get a wopping seventeen weapons, many of which can be doubled up on by carrying two at a time. The weapons range from the expected pistol, shotgun, and sniper rifles, to the voodoo doll (my favorite from the first game) and the "orb" which is kinda like the ball from Phantasm. A great many of these weapons will solicit different death animations from your victims, and it can be a lot of fun to watch the sorry fools run around on fire screaming. Hey…what can I say…I enjoy stuff like that. ;)
In addition to all the weapons, and I do mean all the weapons, there are a number of items that can be picked up and used. These range from simple things like explosive charges, which come in either the proximity (explodes when someone goes near it) or remote varieties, to the eyeball…a cool little item that can be rolled around corners so you can see what's going on over there. There's also a pair of binoculars for you to use in your mischievous adventures as well. I dug the eyeball and binoculars, but I wish the levels had been designed in such a way as to actually warrant their existence. In Delta Force, where you only have two weapons and a couple of items at a time, successful use of the binoculars can make the difference between survival and humiliation. In Blood 2, where charging into a room with guns a' blazin' is rewarded, there really isn't much purpose to their being included beyond the simple novelty of it.
The game has some genuinely funny humor in it, despite what the box, screenshots and advertising materials might make you think. (I was amazed at how…serious looking all that is…the game is actually quite light in nature.) Expect to see mangled bodies everywhere, and Blood 2 can even can take credit as being one of the few games to break the fourth wall. (I won't spoil it…but trust me. Answer the phone.) Caleb manages to find some quotes from Army of Darkness that haven't appeared in a game yet (who thought there were any left?) and there are quite a few original witticisms that are pretty dang clever as well. Since not every line is swiped from Army of Darkness, after a while Caleb actually starts to take on a bit of uniqueness, albeit not especially much…but hey, in a game like this, any originality is a breath of fresh air.
Multiplayer is well…a major disappointment. Bugs aside (good luck playing it online…somehow the smooth internet play of Shogo just didn't make it into Blood 2…yet. Wait for the next patch, hopefully) the deathmatch levels are pretty uninspired. After the high quality DM levels of Shogo I had some very high hopes for Blood 2, and I was severely let down. The DM levels are pretty much standard fare, consisting of a few corridors and the occasional wide open area for mass slaughter. Yawn. But there's a larger problem, and that comes from the fact that there are just so damn many weapons that DM can be…a bit silly. It's pretty much impossible to balance all those weapons, and while Monolith did an admirable job, the end result is a mindless blast fest, where it doesn't matter what weapon you have…they all kill the other guy pretty well. Blood 2's deathmatch is pretty much tactless in every conceivable way. But if you're into mindless slaughter, perhaps you'll enjoy it. Personally, I'll take the all-out mahem and genuine balance of Shogo any day over this, but to each their own.
The game's cinematics are hardly anything to write home about, but they are a step up from Shogo's still-camera-and-idle-animation movies. The camera will sweep around, characters will do more than just their idle animations (not much more, I'm afraid…but it is an improvement over Shogo, where the characters literally just did their idle animations while the camera spun around). It's a shame the story isn't any better, or I would have appreciated it more. Since all I was interested in was more meat to kill, the cinematics were just a distraction along the way.
If it sounds like I'm being overly harsh on Blood 2, that's because the game has a number of flaws. But, there are far worse games out there…in fact, I genuinely had a good time with Blood 2, and I'd recommend it to anyone who gets off on blood n' gibs. If you're one of those people who can't stand all the exposition in games like Half-Life, and you just want clever lines and blood, then you'll have a great time with Blood 2. The game also deserves a great deal of credit for successfully picking up the "mindless distraction" slot in my daily routine. When I've spent a few hours writing and need a break, Blood 2 is a great distraction. I get all the violence (and then some!) of the action games I love, with none of the exploration or puzzle solving that's become so prevalent these days. If you long for the days before RPG elements started creeping their way into first person shooters, then check out Blood 2. You'll not only dig it, you'll think it's to die for.
- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief of loonygames. It stands to reason, therefore, that all of this is his fault.
|Credits: Bargain Bin logo illustrated and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. This edition of Top Shelf is © 1999 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is a majorly hostile gesture.|