Have You Played… Blood II: The Chosen?

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

Delivered to me on a CD of assorted bootleg delights, a gift from a university friend with ties to the thriving software piracy scene of South Wales in the late 90s, first-person shooter Blood II meant nothing to me. I had not played Monolith’s first Blood, and I found the in-game story to be almost incomprehensible. (Only years later would I discover that Blood II wouldn’t play most of its cutscenes in the event the player did not choose the one canonical option from the four offered playable characters). But I found something uncommonly dark.

Perhaps I just hadn’t played enough horror games by that point, or had been overly drawn to rote tales of action heroism, but there was a nastiness, a sense of grime and cruelty, to Blood II that felt unfamiliar. Refreshing, in its way, though looking at videos now it’s helplessly comical.

Casual slaughter of civilians as well as hired goons and snarling beasties, with a demonic player-character who happily quipped about his mercilessness. Much of the game is set as a chase across urban environments, creating carnage in your wake and never caring about it. All is rotten here. All can die.

Years later, the cold squalor of Max Payne and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines would remind me of Blood II’s fallen city. Games work hard, these days, to make cities into believable places, but I almost miss those that made them entirely hostile, filthy and frightful.

26 Comments

  1. Baltech says:

    Oh boy, I think I had the very same bootleg disc. Didn’t they omit cutscenes for space reasons? I only remember them having way more games on one discs than I ever thought possible. Anyone maybe remember the name of those things? They were like a compilation series…

    • LexW1 says:

      Nah, it’s a bug as he says. The cutscenes were in-engine so you weren’t really saying any space.

      Personally I loved Blood 2, but I would be the first to admit that it was absolutely awful in most conventional regards. I really enjoyed the aggressively dark/gothic tone combined with the more urban/modern visuals (as opposed to Doom’s awesome but far-out ones). It was also one of the first shooters to allow you to choose from multiple characters with different abilities/stats (even if it broke the story!).

      It was one of the first PC games I was excited about coming out before it actually did come out too. I loved the visual design of the concept art they’d shown, and whilst didn’t live up to that, it did have a lot of very nasty style.

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      Carra says:

      The good old Warez days. Yes, back then you had “rips” of games. They would add extra packages with the music (compressed to mp3), higher resolution packs or the movie clips to reduce space as most people had slow modems or low download limits.

      One guy at school had a cd writer which cost him (or well, his parents) €500. He could copy those twilight cd’s and make a few bucks. I remember getting a few games from him like that.

    • kwyjibo says:

      RPS should do a “have you played” article on pirate compilation releases.

      I got Half-Life from a warez CD, I think it was the Screamer series, but I can’t find any trace of it on Google. It was an early version I guess, because most of Xen was missing, and the assassins were armed with Magnums, not pistols!

      The whole thing screamed of pirate. Other games on there included Carmageddon 2 and European Air War (I think). The UI was a pirate version of the PC-Zone demo disk UI, and for some reason it played Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross. It’s not just a warez CD, it’s an M&S warez CD.

  2. merzbau says:

    Aside from the arsenal of gloriously, ridiculously outsized shit available in the perfunctory deathmatch mode (the black hole gun and, especially, the Phantasm ball with its Unreal Tournament-esque first-person control), the thing that will always stay with me from this game is the constant enemy barks and the way they would frequently overlap into things like “Come out, we won’t hurt YOU WILL DIE A SLOW SLOW DEATH”

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      distantlurker says:

      I lol’d :D

      “Come out, we won’t hurt…”

      “YOU WILL DIE A SLOW SLOW DEATH!”

      “God damn it, Brian.”

    • CloneWarrior85 says:

      God, that phrase is so scarred in my mind, i will never forget it.

      i loved hearing the enemies look for us, instants before being blown into gibs.

      Blood 2 was one of those games, that, while it wasn’t an epic game, with an amasing story, it was so damn fun to play, i repeated it over and over again dozens of times. And i can still play it today, like if it just came out.

  3. int says:

    Even if they never make another Blood I wish Stephan (Caleb) Weyte got more voice work in games. He’s got the most badass and scary voice I can think of.

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    DantronLesotho says:

    I didn’t even know there WAS a sequel to Blood. I wonder if it just passed me by at that time since I was transitioning to a console phase at that point.

  5. Kingseeker Camargo says:

    The only thing I know about this game is that the demo scored a 3-seconds StC.

    • LexW1 says:

      That you so much for reminding me that that was a thing. I miss those guys. Though, think of Chet, I do wonder how L4D/L4D2 (his games) would fare on the ol’ Crate Review. Maybe it’d be fine. I don’t remember any crates or barrels. But they’re so much a part of games I don’t even see them any more.

  6. rondertaker says:

    they did a fan contest to submit “funny” deathmatch kill lines like “player1 gibbed player2” etc. i submitted probably 50 of them and my least funny/most instantly dated was selected for inclusion (something about “interning at the whitehouse” as a metaphor for fellatio. urgh) so now i have the dubious honor of having my name in the credits for contributing an embarrassing joke to the mediocre sequel for a game i adored.

    i seem to remember writing off the whole affair the first time i fired the new flare gun. unlike the first game, your enemies would not turn into flailing fireballs still coming at you, but would instead just stop and burn to death in a boring crappy way. probably never finished the first level.

  7. tomimt says:

    Personally, I thought Blood 2 was terribly disappointing in comparison to the first game. Nothing about it felt right.

  8. drucifer says:

    I just found my original copy last week. This is the type of game I would play through again and again in God Mode.

  9. poliovaccine says:

    Have any of you ever played the Blood Refilled mod for Fallout New Vegas? It’s a surprisingly thorough total conversion + new worldspace (carnival/Coney Island level, maybe another one or two stitched in or maybe it’s just that the one map is really big, I dont know). This comes complete with cultists and hell hounds and all the sounds and weapons and etc, but most crucially, the taunts/shouts are all there.

    It wouldnt seem like a very natural fit to bring a classic first-person shooter into New Vegas – the engine is not exactly known for great shooting mechanics, and even mods can only do so much in that respect. But it’s a surprising bit of fun, or at least I think so anyway. Maybe it’s just nice to actually cut loose in such an otherwise restrained and serious game, where normally I value the life of almost every NPC. Maybe it’s just nice to cut loose no matter what.

    Anyway, it’s a good mod, so I can only imagine it would be moreso for someone who’s more of a Blood fan than me. Worth a look if that’s you.

  10. takfar says:

    Funny story, I played a lot of Blood 1, but only remember playing the demo for this game. That demo, however, had a funny control scheme that I chose to adapt to rather than change: forward movement was set to right-mouse-button. So, guess what, that’s what I still use to this day.

    Now, I came from playing Wolf3D and Doom, Duke3D and other build engine games, and even Quake, mostly using the arrow keys for movement and left control for shooting. Didn’t really use the mouse for aiming much, except in the rare situations where a bullet-activated switch had to be shot.

    Blood 2 demo was the first FPS which I truly played with mouse-and-keyboard. And it’s the culprit behind my weird control habits:
    – RMB to move forward;
    – X and C to strafe left and right; (had to come up with these myself, as strafe was usually ALT-arrow keys in the old 2.5D FPS)
    – V to move backwards; (again, my own adaptation due to it being close enough to X and C)
    – A and Z for jump and crouch, Space for Use (coming all the way from, again, Build engine games)
    – D for alt-fire, S for reload (conveniently placed)
    – Q, W and E, and then R, F and G for additional functions.
    – LCtrl for meelee attack (maybe the only “common” keybind?
    – Inverted Y-axis (that comes from too much time with MS Flight Simulator)

    So, yea, while I can play with WASD movement if I have to (some games simply don’t play nice with RMB movement), the first thing I usually do when upon starting an FPS (or third-person action game, for that matter) is to go and set these controls.

    • Buggery says:

      On the one hand, I love that of all the weird mid 90s to 2000s experimental control schemes (from before they all standardised), you somehow managed to adapt to one of the strangest ones I’ve ever heard of – and on the other, that is such an odd way to play. Kudos to you though.

      • takfar says:

        Yea… It’s efficient enough for me. Tho a bit of a nuisance to have to config all of that in every game.. And even worse when a game comes out that does not allow for that config, or causes some sort of conflict.

  11. Uberwolfe says:

    Despite the shiny new bespoke engine, the game was nowhere near as good as its predecessor.

    I foolishly bought this back in the day thinking it would include a map editor (like Build which I spent way too much time in in Blood) but it didn’t.. was pretty sad about that.

  12. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Games work hard, these days, to make cities into believable places, but I almost miss those that made them entirely hostile, filthy and frightful.

    So, like actual cities, then? )

  13. BobbyDylan says:

    It’s Howdy Doody time Kiddies…. That bad man is in town.

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