It Lives Again: Blood Rises On Steam
All's flare in Bloody war
If I wrote a post every time an old game popped up on Steam, I wouldn't have time to gather my thoughts about new games, or to drink this delicious cuppa. I'd also be wasting a lot of words on Putt-Putt And Fatty Bear's Flatulent Festival, along with various other fetid blasts from the past. Blood is different though. It isn't a difficult game to find but when I spotted that it had emerged on Steam, I felt the butterflies that live in my stomach fluttering into action (assistance required - send a lepidopterist with a scalpel). It's a brilliant FPS, with credible environments and intelligent enemy placement, particularly throughout the first episode, which I've probably played more than any other collection of levels.
Do not buy the sequel though. It's a rotten mess.
What makes Blood so important*?
The dynamite is my favourite weapon in any FPS game. It has multiple uses, all of which end in a satisfyingly chunky explosion, and the animation as the fuse burns down is exquisite. Holding a bundle until it explodes and seeing Caleb's arms reduced to bone and ash used to make me feel a bit queasy, but bobbing and weaving toward a deathmatch opponent with a stick of death in-hand was so much fun. Esconced in the world of b-movie horror, I didn't spare a thought for the real world connotations of my suicidal sprint.
Light it and wait a moment to lob it for timed tactical gibbing. Chuck it straight in the maw of a slavering horde for instant eyeball soup. Lay it on the ground and lure cultists to their doom.
Or just shoot them in the gob with a flare gun.
The opening morgue level is a masterpiece. It resembles a real place and most of the secret passages and stashes are believable. Squint and you can see the intentional routes and bottlenecks of the design, but as Duke 3D did with its opening cinema area, Blood begins with a statement of intent. We're not in the world of abstract corridors and caverns anymore. Until later in the game when that's exactly where Caleb ends up spilling everyone's guts. It's marvellous while it lasts though, the illusion of reality.
Top notch. Many maps have a fairly high skill/learning curve and the weapons are invariably entertaining. It should be noted that I mostly played two-player, one person as a killer who could use any weapon and the other as the 'victim', who could only use the pitchfork as a form of self defense. It was like ultra-violent hide and seek, and I highly recommend it.
Caleb is Duke Nukem if all the testosterone and ego were replaced with sadism and formaldehyde. He's back from the dead and extremely cross with Tchernobog, the god who cast him down into the dirt. Like Duke, the game is packed with pop culture references, with a focus on horror. There is a level called The Overlooked Hotel, which is reason enough to buy the game right now.
Does anyone want to attempt a defense of the sci-fi horrors of Blood II?
*doctors have been known to disagree with some of my reasoning