PDA

View Full Version : Blood: The Best Shooter I Have Ever Played



Vdaxzter
12-02-2012, 04:55 AM
Note: The YouTube videos linked here are not mine. I've linked them because they do a good job of demonstrating what I'm discussing at certain points in the review.

Blood is a horror-themed first-person shooter and one of the best games I've ever played, yet it would seem the game has been sadly forgotten by most of the PC gaming community. Built on a modified Duke Nukem 3D engine and released by Monolith (with initial development by 3D Realms) in 1997, a time when the obsolescence of 2.5D shooters had been confirmed for many by the true 3D graphics of Quake (1996), Blood was doomed to poor sales well before hitting store shelves. Despite commercial failure, a small and dedicated cult following have created content for Blood since its release and continue to do so today, having produced exceptionally high quality mods as recent as October 2011: http://www.moddb.com/mods/death-wish-for-blood . One must wonder how interest in the game, deemed archaic even before its release, has endured for over a decade.

When I first played Blood (only a couple years ago), the distinctive atmosphere and frantic energy of the game absolutely astounded me. Blood is gloriously dark, frenzied, and violent, with superb combat supporting every other element of the game. Slaughtering the various demons, monsters, cultists, and ghosts is remarkably satisfying throughout, largely due to the sound design, death animations, and excessive blood and gore. The screams and groans of injured enemies are simply the best I've heard in any game, complemented magnificently with explosive and imposing weapon sounds. Blood has a varied and original arsenal of weapons, most of which have alternate firing capability along with unique enemy death animations and impact responses attached to them. Some of my personal favorites include the double-barrel shotgun, which often sends bodies and heads flying using impressive-for-the-time physics simulation, and a Voodoo doll which has many awesome effects, like splitting enemies in-half to reveal their skeletons and converting others to puddles of goop. Killing a number of ghouls with one of Blood’s devastating implements of death and hearing the resulting shrieks and cries of pain, while the protagonist cackles in pitch-perfect maniacal laughter, is an unbeatable experience. On that note, Blood maintains the protagonist-with-a-personality tradition of Duke 3D, but does so far more effectively. Caleb, Blood’s protagonist, is an undead Western gunslinger resembling a cross between the Man with No Name and Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. The game begins with Caleb rising from his own grave an unspecified number of years after he, and the cult he led, were betrayed by their dark god and Caleb was murdered. The generic story is poorly told through awkward, stiffly animated, pre-rendered CGI cutscenes that play between episodes, and isn’t worth discussing. The story does, however, establish Caleb as a compelling protagonist, which is a lot more than what can be said for the preceding bleached-blonde, vacuous, muscle-bound game hero from 3D Realms. Furthermore, Caleb is expertly and convincingly brought to life by a haunting, gravelly voice that makes every one-liner pleasing to the ear: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7AsYxY6nz4 .

None of these aesthetic elements would have much value were it not for Blood’s fantastic gameplay and level design. The game holds true to the 90s shooter standard set by Doom, meaning there five difficulty settings, ranging from minor challenge to damn near fucking impossible, and a series of four episodes (for the base game) with about 10 levels each. Gameplay within levels consists of killing huge hordes of enemies and collecting keys to open various doors, eventually leading to an end level switch. There are occasional platforming sections and even a couple simple puzzles to unlock hidden levels (there are several secrets within levels that can be found without solving puzzles too). Each episode will end in a boss fight which, depending on the difficulty setting, can be extremely difficult and require several tries to beat. The difficulty of the game is, in fact, one of the most significant parts of Blood’s gameplay as it distinguishes Blood from most other shooters available. Blood is fucking difficult. Extremely fucking difficult, to be precise. On the second lowest difficulty I found myself dying suddenly and unexpectedly pretty frequently. Single enemies can deal enormous damage at range and kill Caleb in seconds, so maintaining awareness is crucial. The deadliness of individual enemies is further compounded by the sheer number of them. Unlike Duke 3D, on higher difficulty settings Blood throws large groups of enemies at the player in rapid succession throughout levels, and hundreds will often be encountered in single levels. Due to the speed and power of the enemies, Blood forces the player to move constantly and, often, acrobatically. Meeting the challenge requires agile maneuvering, jumping, and fast aiming unlike any other shooter I’ve played: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUYzgH5s7nU . Blood’s combat, as a result, intensely engages the mind and reflexes and operates at a blistering pace.

The well-detailed, large, and labyrinthine levels serve to support the amazing combat. An enormous diversity of settings are presented throughout the game, most of which possess a gothic horror and/or science fiction theme. Some examples include a huge, haunted mansion and a dank mad scientist’s laboratory. The levels achieve the dark, horror atmosphere aimed for by the developers, and are enhanced by an original and suitably unsettling soundtrack which includes somber Gregorian chants and warped carnival music. The levels aren’t just reskinned copies of earlier segments, either. Each level contains interesting architectural twists which impact the effectiveness of enemies and help to maintain challenge and interest. Most importantly, the levels are elevated to truly fantastic quality through the freedom they offer to the player. The combat occurs primarily in very large, open spaces, so the player is rarely pigeon-holed into using specific weapons. Secret passageways and intelligent use of the environment, as well as certain weapons, even allow for some stealth killing. The only real problem with the game, as far as I’m concerned, is the difficulty of navigating the levels. As I’ve previously stated, the levels are quite large and often have several doors that require keys to open. The task of finding all the keys and returning to the corresponding doors left me running in circles at times, but with a little perseverance I managed to make my way through all the levels.

Blood is doubtlessly one of the best games I have ever experienced. The game takes all the best elements of Doom, another personal favorite, and adds unforgettable atmosphere, sound design, a distinctive protagonist, cathartic, intelligent, and exceptionally challenging combat, and magnificent level design. When considering what a fantastic base game Blood is, I fully understand why its fan community continues to painstakingly produce level packs despite the game’s nearly forgotten status. Blood has, thankfully, been rereleased on GoG.com for modern computers and operating systems. If you like Doom, a challenge, or first-person shooters at all, you absolutely must play Blood.

agentorange
12-02-2012, 05:34 AM
I love Blood as well, and you've managed to say more than I could ever say about it. Truly the best of the darkly comic first person shooters, a sub-genre of which we don't see much any more.

I've actually just started playing through the Death Wish mod; and though it is not a total conversion, as far as sheer quality of its content it is up there with the great mods like The Nameless Mod and The Dark Mod.

You didn't mention the sequel at all, what were your thoughts on it? Personally I really enjoyed it, though I remember it being not nearly as off the wall as the original: a lot of shooting at machine gun wielding humans with your own machine gun, as opposed to firing a flare gun at babbling cultists. It did have the brain drilling chrome sphere from Phatasm as a weapon, that was a definite plus.

Spacewalk
12-02-2012, 07:11 AM
I like Blood too (not two). It has a train level and a carnival level and also a level set in a mine with mine carts that you can ride which is very Temple of Doom-like. That's if I'm remembeering this correctly, it's been a few years. Oh and a stage set in a dam, I've always found those fun too since playing hoover.wad for Doom 2 back in 1996. Some of the others were really good too, lots of detail and they're spread around so it's consistent unlike a few of those shareware-era first person shooters that blew their load in the first episode.

But it's such a hard game, you really need to use cover or you'd get torn apart in seconds. Don't get me started on those bloody severed hands and the spiders that hit you with status affects.


Slaughtering the various demons, monsters, cultists, and ghosts is remarkably satisfying throughout, largely due to the sound design, death animations, and excessive blood and gore. The screams and groans of injured enemies are simply the best I've heard in any game, complemented magnificently with explosive and imposing weapon sounds.
If Blood got any one thing right it was this. Blood was the reason that I wanted to get a good audio set-up for my PC for years until I learned to do without. I played it this way over at a mate's house and the screams coming through the sub-woofer really made you snap to attention.

Juan Carlo
12-02-2012, 07:33 AM
I remember "Blood" quite fondly. IT very well could be the best of the 2D FPS's (it also might have been the last--I can't remember if any others were released after it).

It couldn't have been all that unsuccessful, though, as it did have a 3D sequel, which was pretty good in its own right, I thought. It still even looks pretty good for a game from its time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTNY_TQZOXA

Games based on the lithtech engine seem to have aged better than games using other engines of the era (e.g. quake 2 or 3)--provided you can get them to run on modern hardware at all. The original ""No One Lives Forever" still looks pretty good too.

Anthile
12-02-2012, 07:49 AM
Shogo all the way.

Flint
12-02-2012, 10:12 AM
I've only played Blood 2 and it's one of those games that despite being so, so bad in so many ways, still somehow manages to be enjoyable enough to be playable. That said, those were the days when I had umpteen amounts more time, a significantly smaller game collection and no cheap online outlets for new games so perhaps today I would never be in the point where I'd find myself having the desire to play it again.

Dominic Tarason
12-02-2012, 10:33 AM
We don't talk about Blood 2. That game was a trainwreck in so many ways. Including the fact that it had about four identical trainwrecks - that subway train level was copy-pasted several times through the game, and I have no idea how they got away with that shit.

I remember one Let's Play (purged from the internet because the video host decided to remove everything videogame-based) that had to restart one level because the player died during a cutscene. The cutscene-model used was standing out in the open and having a conversation, but the actual (invisible) player model was being crushed to death slowly behind an unpowered wooden door, unable to escape.

Blood 1 is fantastic, though, and Death Wish is a great fan-made expansion.

Burnside
12-02-2012, 02:13 PM
On top of everything said here, I loved Blood for the sheer number of references to pretty much all of my favourite films at the time - either said by Caleb or stuff in the environment like a frozen Jack Torrance. I spent so much time hunting secrets because I couldn't handle the possibility of missing some other reference to evil dead somewhere!

Heliocentric
12-02-2012, 03:25 PM
Did blood have a demo? I think I might have played a demo and thought it was a horrible game.. But back then I played FPS with just the keyboard and was terrible at games.

nayon
12-02-2012, 03:45 PM
I purchased the gog version of this a while ago, but I couldn't get it to work with sound. Is there a patch or source port that enables stuff like widescreen, higher resolutions, and fixes issues?

Dominic Tarason
12-02-2012, 04:50 PM
I purchased the gog version of this a while ago, but I couldn't get it to work with sound. Is there a patch or source port that enables stuff like widescreen, higher resolutions, and fixes issues?

Given that the GOG version just runs through Dosbox, are you trying something strange or trying to manually alter the default audio settings? Because it should just play fine, unless you've got some never-heard-of audio issue with it.


Did blood have a demo? I think I might have played a demo and thought it was a horrible game.. But back then I played FPS with just the keyboard and was terrible at games.

There was a shareware version. And it was - and still is, to this day - one of the hardest shooters of it's era. Playing with mouse was nigh-on essential. The middle difficulty settings are still the recommended ones to this day, wheras Doom 1 doesn't even begin to get challenging (at least compared to Blood) unless you play on Ultraviolence mode with fast monsters.

Juan Carlo
12-02-2012, 05:37 PM
Really?

People hated Blood 2?

It's been ages since I played it (i.e. like when it was first released), but I remember enjoying it.

Go figure.

Strangely, though, it was probably the first game I ever pirated. I think I downloaded it from like a "limewire" type file sharing service or something (I can't quite remember, I just know I never payed for it). So it has that distinction, anyway.

Vdaxzter
12-02-2012, 10:35 PM
I love Blood as well, and you've managed to say more than I could ever say about it. Truly the best of the darkly comic first person shooters, a sub-genre of which we don't see much any more.

I've actually just started playing through the Death Wish mod; and though it is not a total conversion, as far as sheer quality of its content it is up there with the great mods like The Nameless Mod and The Dark Mod.

You didn't mention the sequel at all, what were your thoughts on it? Personally I really enjoyed it, though I remember it being not nearly as off the wall as the original: a lot of shooting at machine gun wielding humans with your own machine gun, as opposed to firing a flare gun at babbling cultists. It did have the brain drilling chrome sphere from Phatasm as a weapon, that was a definite plus.

Thanks for the response. I did not like Blood 2 at all. I only played about one and a half levels in the game and was quickly turned off. The weapons feel weak and the combat isn't nearly as satisfying as the original, IMO. The animations and modelling of the 3D engine seem really awkward (which certainly isn't uncommon for 3D technology of that time) and the level design struck me as lackluster too. After my brief experience with the game I did some research to see if things would improve. Unfortunately, people seem to think the game is pretty bad so I never played it again.

DaftPunk
12-02-2012, 10:57 PM
You need to play more shooters op xP

Vdaxzter
12-02-2012, 11:46 PM
You need to play more shooters op xP

You don't like Blood? :(

Theblazeuk
13-02-2012, 02:26 AM
Dual flare guns. Surprisingly effective!

Though far from the best shooter, it was certainly one of the better ones of its kind. Though I think Shadow Warrior edges it out for me.

agentorange
13-02-2012, 06:07 AM
Really?

People hated Blood 2?

It's been ages since I played it (i.e. like when it was first released), but I remember enjoying it.

Go figure.

Strangely, though, it was probably the first game I ever pirated. I think I downloaded it from like a "limewire" type file sharing service or something (I can't quite remember, I just know I never payed for it). So it has that distinction, anyway.

Odd. Blood 2 was the first game I pirated as well; I remember it being one of the last games I had in which I had to use cheats to finish it. Bought it on GOG when it came out, but I haven't tried replaying it.

archonsod
13-02-2012, 06:45 AM
You don't like Blood? :(

It did kinda suck. Mind you, I thought Doom was a load of shite as well.

Wizardry
13-02-2012, 06:48 AM
It did kinda suck. Mind you, I thought Doom was a load of shite as well.
Do you like Half-Life by any chance?

Vdaxzter
13-02-2012, 07:43 AM
It did kinda suck. Mind you, I thought Doom was a load of shite as well.

I see. Well it would seem the swarm/90s shooter isn't your thing.

DaftPunk
13-02-2012, 12:02 PM
Vdaxzter@ I liked it,but its hard to call it best shooter because i already played better ones :D

BillButNotBen
13-02-2012, 02:15 PM
(NB: The following is my opinion, it's not an attack on your opinion which is yours to have.)

Personally, I never got what people saw in Blood.

I tried it several times, and it never seemed more than a generic doom clone with an uninspiring setting.
Well, that's not exactly fair. It's more that the setting didn't interest me, and that the technology at the time didn't seem up to realising the setting in a way that would make it effective and atmospheric.

To be fair, I did play it after playing a lot of other doom clones, so by that time maybe I was a little worn out on them... but I never really got into Blood or Shadow Warrior. They didn't do enough different from Doom etc.. and didn't have anything like a story to pull me in.

i missed Doom 1 due to an underpowered PC, but i upgraded just in time for Doom2 and it blew me away. In my mind I was exploring huge epic breathtaking vistas and engaging in massive epic battles. It was a great mix of "wow" moments and action. Story didn't come into it.
then there were dozens of Doom WADs (with the Aliens TC really nailing the scary atmosphere on that engine).

Then there was Dark Forces which (with the advantage of a well known and beloved setting) managed to bring a decent story and sense of place/"reality" to the genre.

Then we had Duke3d which had it's awesome interactivity and wide range of real world levels. No story, but great fun.

Then we got Blood, Shadow Warrior, etc.. and I could never get into any of them. They came out close to Quake, which was mindblowing at that time. They didn't have much in the way of story, and felt to me more like TCs for Duke Nukem. And Blood was going for the horror angle, and I didn't feel that the pixels allowed for either the gore or the atmosphere that was needed. And with little to no story there was nothing to pull me in. Just a few crazy weapons that seemed much less intuitive than the ones from Doom/Duke/Quake.

I did love all the later Monolith FPS games though (SHogo, NOLF, AvP2, etc..). But every time someone extols the virtues of Blood I always feel like I missed out on whatever the magic ingredient was. I wonder if it was just a case of timing - if it was your first FPS then i'm sure it'd be pretty impressive.

I'd choose Doom2 or Dark Forces or Duke3d (or even Rise of the Triad) over Blood though. Never tried Blood2.

Vexing Vision
13-02-2012, 02:23 PM
Blood was immensely enjoyable mostly due to it's fiendish level design, but my favourite shooter remains Hexen in co-op. SO GOOD.

soldant
14-02-2012, 01:15 AM
Personally, I never got what people saw in Blood.
Neither did I. It had some interesting weapons, but I didn't find Caleb particularly interesting, nor did I find the enemies or setting interesting either. Kind of liked the levels, but that was about it. Same with Shadow Warrior actually except that I didn't like any part of it, save for the sword. That was pretty cool.

Weirdly though I did sort of like Blood 2. Has some major issues and frankly looked pretty ridiculous even back on release, but I still had fun for some reason.

spcd
14-02-2012, 02:24 AM
I remember Blood for being the hardest shooter I have ever played. It has been a long time since I have played Blood, but I remember doing every level at least 20 times until I was able to finish it.

I would only save at the beginning of a level. I always saw a level as a whole thing you need to finish in 1 session.

Nowadays shooters are so easy... you can take so many damage, and if you die you barely lose any progress. There is absolutely no reason to do any effort. Games don't punish you anymore for being a bad player.

I wouldn't call Blood the best shooter ever made, but it's in my top5 at least. I love Doom much more than Blood. Doom is much more satisfying.

Blood 2 is a giant turd of a game and should be forgotten.

Vdaxzter
14-02-2012, 02:33 AM
I remember Blood for being the hardest shooter I have ever played. It has been a long time since I have played Blood, but I remember doing every level at least 20 times until I was able to finish it.

I would only save at the beginning of a level. I always saw a level as a whole thing you need to finish in 1 session.

Nowadays shooters are so easy... you can take so many damage, and if you die you barely lose any progress. There is absolutely no reason to do any effort. Games don't punish you anymore for being a bad player.

I wouldn't call Blood the best shooter ever made, but it's in my top5 at least. I love Doom much more than Blood. Doom is much more satisfying.

Blood 2 is a giant turd of a game and should be forgotten.

I love Doom and Doom 2, but I found the combat in Blood more satisfying. The super shotgun from Doom 2 is better than Blood's stock double-barrel shotgun, but I modded in the Blood alpha shotgun (skip to 2:48 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_eOLOGYREE ) which I find more satisfying to use than Doom 2's stock double barrel shotgun.

soldant
14-02-2012, 03:21 AM
There is absolutely no reason to do any effort. Games don't punish you anymore for being a bad player.
This might come as a complete shock to you, but not everybody enjoys playing or has the time to play the exact same level 20 times in a row because of a small mistake.