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.