Have You Played… Blood?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Here are five things that I love about the first-person shooter Blood, which used to be my favourite game.

1) In Blood, you play Caleb, an anti-hero so anti that he might as well be married to your uncle. If he were married to your uncle, he’d probably blow your uncle up with a stick of dynamite because he is in this for the blood, the guts and the laughs. Yes, there’s an evil god to destroy and that’s serious business, but you’re also punting zombie heads around and cackling like a witch at a rave. Caleb is The Evil Dead’s Ash by way of a gunslinging Clint Eastwood, and he’s the irreverent Duke Nukem-alike that I actually enjoyed spending time with.

2) The dynamite is the best weapon in any first-person game ever. You can lob it so that it explodes on impact, you can light the fuse and let it cook in your hands until just the right moment, you can bounce it and ping it round corners, and you can keep hold of it until it blows up and you get to see your hands turned into skellingtons.

3) There’s a flare gun instead of a pistol because pistols are puny and boring, and flares thunk into enemies and only ignite after a few seconds have passed. That makes the weapon extremely lethal but means that enemies are still dangerous after the initial impact. It’s a useful early weapon that doesn’t make you unstoppable, and it’s important that the cultists scream and complain comically when they’re on fire.

4) The train level is fantastic because, wow, it’s a moving train that rattles and shakes down the tracks, and how did they even do that?

5) There were more breakable objects, gore decals and interactive elements in the levels (particularly the early levels) than I can remember seeing in anything else at the time. To be fair, that’s sort of a Build Engine thing than specifically a Blood thing, but Blood was the only Build Engine game that went into a full-on comedy horror theme, and the silliness of the era’s FPS games suited that mixture of silliness and ultraviolence so well. Shadow Warrior and Duke both aimed their sights there was well, but The Army of Darkness quotes felt much more comfortable in a game that was parodying and replicating famous horror movies than in the macho action spoofs of its siblings.

Blood isn’t my favourite game anymore, but it was for a long time. And I still love it dearly.

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39 Comments

  1. Darth Gangrel says:

    I played some of it, but the way it’s designed makes it a game you can play or not, without much difference. There’s nothing in it that draws me back to it, though it’s better than the old Shadow Warrior at least. It has character and nice things, but can’t hold a candle to other older FPS’s like Serious Sam or Quake.

  2. TΛPETRVE says:

    The train level is actually static level geometry on an animated, looping ground texture that acts like a conveyor belt. So the train itself isn’t moving, but instead anything that touches the ground is propelled horizontally.

    • Lord Byte says:

      Correct! A classic technique that I employed on a CS level that I never released :P AWP and a straight train don’t mix well ^^

    • grandstander says:

      You might be right- although I used to make Build levels and you could indeed create a moving sector that traveled along a track; might it have been done that instead?

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        You can create moving sectors in Build that travel in a continuous loop, but to the best of my knowledge that’s not how the train level in Blood works (as there are no corners, it’s a continuous straight line).

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          MajorLag says:

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Build Engine is portal-based, so moving in a straight line doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not going in a loop. Or does that not work with the whole “moving sectors” thing? I have only a surface understanding of the Build Engine’s techniques.

    • Unclepauly says:

      The day the magic died…

    • April March says:

      That’s how trains work in the real world as well, at least if you ask the right physicist…

  3. Richard Cobbett says:

    The carnival level! The carnival level!

  4. Bobcat says:

    1) Blood
    2) Blood
    3) Blood
    4) Bits of sick

  5. indoctrahol says:

    Man I love this game! I wish they’d remaster it.

    • Jalan says:

      You and plenty of others (myself included).

      Unfortunately we’re not likely to get a remaster just as much as we’re unlikely to ever see a release of the game’s source code so a non-conversion sourceport could ever happen which would be the next-best thing to (whoever has the rights to the game) releasing a remaster/modern version of the game.

      • poliovaccine says:

        As much as I personally dont see the point in remastering a game whose charm comes largely from being on the Build engine, you’re halfway in luck – somebody made a huge, expansive, pretty damn comprehensive Blood mod for Fallout New Vegas, of all things. It is definitely Blood in spirit, with enemies and levels and weapons recreated, and Caleb’s shouts and commentary integrated and so forth, but in a more modern package than, well, the Build engine anyway (Gamebryo’s looking pretty old these days itself). But yeah, that’s an option.

        I would call it a Total Conversion mod except that you find the way into “Blood” from the Novac hotel room… and then you’re just taken to the whole big gameworld, which isnt just Blood assets draped over New Vegas, like I say, it’s a whole new worldspace that recreates the levels of the original. It’s damned well done as a whole.

  6. lowenz says:

    “It burns it burns, aaaaaaaaaaaah” :v

    Take a look here:
    link to moddb.com

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    DantronLesotho says:

    To this day I still chant “I… live… again…” sometimes when I respawn in a game. I loved Blood. I tried to go back to it and it is way tougher and harder to control than I remembered. I loved the Build engine days though. Nothing seemed impossible, and then Halo came around and stripped every bit of non-shooty fun out of FPSes for a long, long time.

    • FredSaberhagen says:

      I remember finding a little disembodied hand or something in a jail (maybe in the carnival level?) I stared at it for a while and it hopped out, choked me out and killed me … I am still amazed by that.

      Also, “BUTTERNUTS AND BEER SQUASH!” Is the best thing an enemy has ever yelled in a video game

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      So much of the stuff you see in any given build engine game (but especially in Duke and Blood) seems, looking back, like an elaborate game of one-upmanship by the mappers, and I adore that so much. Playing Duke3D now, there are quite a few places where you can actually see the mappers pushing to see how far they can strain the engine or trying out stupid tricks (like the room-over-room stairs on one of the later E2 maps that I only noticed last year). Sometimes they pushed too hard, of course.

      I never realised it til right now, but you’re not wrong, FPSs felt DIFFERENT.

  8. SebfromMTL says:

    All I remember was the Phantasm Orb as a weapon and that when you clicked on a blood bag he would drink it while saying Humm, better than Kool-Aid

    They should do a new one!

    • TΛPETRVE says:

      The Phantasm sphere was in Blood II: The Chosen, a game so massively inferior to the first one that you’d like to think it was made by a different developer. Surprise twist: It was! The original Blood was almost entirely developed by a 3D Realms subsidiary, and only sold to Monolith when it was pretty much done, so all they had to do was add some polish. Blood II on the other hand was entirely grown on Monolith’s tree, and we all know their games are ridiculously hit-or-miss.

  9. Sin Vega says:

    Played it again a year or two back. It takes a little getting used to these days, but really swings once you’re into it.

  10. Khannon says:

    One of the first games I ever player with friends on a network. And it was one of the favorites for a long long time.
    There is something special in killing your friends with a cool weapon like the fork or the flare gun and then kick his head around a football field.
    Good times.

  11. Muzman says:

    PESTIS CRUENTO!

  12. tomimt says:

    Blood 2, on the other hand, was just terrible.

  13. Cyrus says:

    Yeah, but I thought it was scary back then, so not for long.
    Was a young’un.

  14. stringerdell says:

    Tremendous game, extremely tricky on the harder settings though. lots of areas full of hitscan enemies with quick reflexes

  15. Spacewalk says:

    It’s basically a horror western with you playing the sheriff who was killed by his evil boss and now you’ve gotta come back to kill the bad guys, save the town and avenge your posse. It’s a great game to play on your awesome audio set-up because it is loud in a way that other games wish they could be. It’s also host to one of the best single player mods ever, maybe even better than the base game, certainly better than any of the official mission packs.

  16. April March says:

    Fun story: around the time this game came out, I read a walkthrough of it on a magazine and found it awesome. But I wasn’t even ten yet, I didn’t have a gaming machine (my dad would intermitently let me borrow a PC, but the first thing I really played my games on was a N64, circa 1996) and I am in Brazil, so with all those factors the idea that I might like a game and then buy it somewhere was ludicrous. The games I’d get would be random stuff that my mom found and thought was cool.

    So I played Blood for the first time when I bought it on GOG, what, three years ago.

    I still remebered the walkthrough. It was as awesome as I expected. Especially the train level.

  17. Angel Dust says:

    Great game, and it has aged pretty well I think. To continue your list:
    6) Flat-out brilliant level design. The Overlooked Hotel being my favourite.
    7) While very much a horror comedy, it could conjure a genuine creepy atmosphere when it wanted to.

  18. horrorgasm says:

    Used to be my favorite back in the day. Haven’t gone back and played it again in a surprisingly long time. Maybe it’s finally time again…

  19. ansionnach says:

    Really don’t see the appeal of Blood. Don’t really like this kind of horror and the gameplay wasn’t up to much, either. I seem to remember the enemies soaking up ridiculous amounts of damage on higher difficulty levels and I’d run out of ammo quickly. The only strategy then was to repetitively grind through them, hitting them and running away.

    Even though Shadow Warrior used up its better ideas by the end of the shareware episode, I could easily play all of it and enjoy it for what it was. Duke3d was great all the way through. Shareware was short and sweet, I loved the moon episode, the third one I don’t remember much of and the fourth (Plutonium PAK) one was great.

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