Blood II: The Chosen
Good guys, bad guys and lots of innocent bystanders all go splat in Blood 2.
Hellbent on being ultra-violent and generally disagreeable, Blood 2 follows the original game but sets the action some one hundred years into the future, incorporating lots of sci-fi imagery in the process. Visually, this game is miles away from its Build-powered predecessor, using Monolith’s patented LithTech engine (the same one used in No One Lives Forever and Shogo). As a result, Blood II is practically bursting with vibrant colors and neat environmental effects, like fire, smoke, and, of course, blood. Buckets of blood actually, as this coupled with the game’s dark humor are the only things differentiating it from any other shooter.
The Bloody Story
I’m inclined to believe no one’s following the story, but for this review’s sake I’ll spell it out. The Cabal, an evil cult bent on world domination and resurrection of evil gods, have risen to power by banding into an entrepreneurial conglomerate known as ‘Cabalco’. You’d think an evil god-worshiping cabal would pick a name that wouldn’t betray them so easily, but whatever. As an undead cowboy gunslinger, you’re tasked with pursuing them before their plans of unholy resurrection come to fruition. You a choice of several characters but they weigh little in the overall gaming experience.
Levels are typically linear affairs, involving simple ‘go here and activate this or that’ sort of gameplay that proceeds you into the following level. Again, this game makes no attempt at redefining the genre, but it looks good, sounds good and plays fairly well. The music in particular feels surreal at times and fits perfectly with some of the more macabre imagery. Even so, the polished visuals do lose out to the previous Blood’s much more gritty appearance, which could nauseate at a moment’s notice. The LithTech engine’s more crispier, colorful visual presentation struggles throughout in this regard.
Gone are the robe wielding cultists of old, as Blood II pits you against fanatics wearing Armani suits alongside a multitude of supernatural creatures, like the axe-wielding zombie or the facehugger-like Bone Leech (reminiscent to the disembodied hand that strangles you, also returning here as well). While enemies usually make for tricky target practice, this is usually due to their almost perfect aim than acute intelligence. Their pathfinding seems particularly atrocious, with brain-dead zombies stopping in their tracks at the mere sight of any obstacles.
You’ll typically take damage whenever you have a cultist within your sights, and these guys have a tendency to gang up at every corner. Even when taking hits, foes still manage to shoot back with uncanny aim, regardless of whether you’re strafing, crouching or jumping. Although not inherently a terrible thing, you’ll also notice how very easily enemies tend to gib, almost as if they were blood-filled helium balloons waiting to get popped. There’s little satisfaction in smearing bad guys all over the walls when just a couple of bullets can turn them into red wallpaper.
The weapons have been changed quite a bit. A few are throwbacks to the previous game (like the Flaregun, Shotgun, Voodoo Doll or Life Leech) while the vast majority are completely new. Unlike the first game, Blood II let’s you wield a pair of one-handed weapons without needing a special power-up that grants temporary ‘akimbo’ mode. This is both a cool feature and a curse, as wielding dual weapons automatically negates the weapon’s alternate firing mode. Consider how you can fire the MAC-10 submachinegun normally or from the shoulder with the alternate firing key, increasing the weapon’s accuracy while decreasing its rate of fire.
Also impressive is the sheer volume of featured weapons, much too many to carry at once. At a total of twenty guns, you’ll eventually be forced to drop obsolete boomsticks for better hardware, and some of the best explosive weapons do indeed rock. At the end of it all, Blood II offers quite a prolonged splatterfest through a colorful, grim alternate universe. It’s quite a long ride, laden with crimson trails, explosions, insane cultists and lots of hot lead. Yet at the end of it all, one might be left asking… was there a point?
System Requirements: Pentium 90 Mhz, 16 MB RAM, Win 95/98/ME
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