Not nearly as good as its prequel, but still a truly amazing experience
First things first. Commander Blood is the long-awaited sequel to Captain Blood
, one of my favourite games ever.
So as soon as I heard the merest hint
of a sequel being in development, I was in a
state of unnatural anticipation. Did the final
game live up to my expectations? Well, no. It's
not really a worthy follow-up to Captain Blood (see
below) but it is
quite a unique and amazing game in its own right. As it is so different from Captain Blood, it's best to view it on its own merits. Commander Blood has fantastic graphics and music and a berserk storyline to play through. It never slips or thins out once; It's a feast of full-on audio-visual spectacle all the way. When I finished the game (didn't take too long - see below) I just thought "Wow". It really got me wrapped me up in itself. It's a screaming happy artful mass of wildly imaginative rendered graphics, cheesy video-captured puppets and one of the best soundtracks in any computer game (The title music alone is worth buying the game for...As usual, I have to heap praise on Stephane Picq
). Much as I hate the old buzzword 'multimedia', I feel it's appropriate here. This is a multimedia artwork at its best.
Commander Blood lacks nearly everything that made Captain Blood great. Sure, the same 2 guys who created the first game are at the head of the sequel's development team, but instead of using '90s technology and programming advances to expand on their original (groundbreaking) ideas, instead they have created a game that, while stunning as an experience
, is only quite average as a game
. First off, Captain Blood's revolutionary UPCOM
(icon-based communication system) has been replaced with a dull multiple-choice conversation system, where you tediously click through reams of word-choices, making sure you've 'talked' about everything you can, so you don't miss anything. The illusion of communication with the game's characters is often lost as it becomes a mechanical process of click-clicking on every single choice until you've exhausted all topics. It doesn't help that each choice is a single word: It feels more like a database than a conversation. OK, so the communication system is
a bit annoying, but usually the plot is engaging enough for you to overlook this. What else? Oh yeah, Captain Blood's freedom of movement and non-linear gameplay; Well, Commander Blood is totally
linear. I've played through it 4 or 5 times, and tried everything possible, so I think I can definitely say, yep, it's totally linear. Whoopee. And what about Captain Blood's freedom to do what you want, kill anyone you want, work stuff out for yourself?; In Commander Blood, you can't do that. You're led by the hand right through the game. There are puzzles but you get told what to do. 'Honk' (your ship's onboard computer) will just butt in with some 'helpful advice' at the appropriate moment. e.g. "Oh Commander, I think I know just the item we need to resolve this situation!" Then you get a menu option 'teleport'. You sheep-fully click on the option and the puzzle is solved. OK, there are
some things to work out, but it's all very easy. Which brings me to...length of play. Captain Blood was a difficult
game. And that's putting it lightly. It took me something like 6 years
(maybe more) to complete it. Commander Blood took 2 days. To be fair, I had a great time playing it (for reasons outlined above) - In fact, it was probably one of the most solidly fun times I ever had playing through a game - But then it was over. It's a decent length game, but it's too easy and, like I said, the gameplay lacks a bit. Also, there's the ending. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't played the game, but it doesn't feel like an ending. It's a cool sequence, but it still kind of feels like the game ended halfway through.
The Bottom Line
Viewed as an experience, Commander Blood is fantastic and unique, great fun for the 2 or 3 days it will last you. Viewed as an adventure game, it has an involving scenario and plenty of variety but it's too easy, totally linear and quite simplistic. Viewed as the sequel to Captain Blood, it's not as good, and is actually a more basic game in many ways. Cryo could've expanded on what they created in 1988 and made something truly remarkable. Instead they opted for the 'lite' approach. Don't get me wrong - I really like Commander Blood; It's a beautiful piece of computer art. But Captain Blood was art which had the gameplay, technology and (dare I say it) sheer genius to match. Ahh :) (Can you tell that I might be a little 'obsessed' with Captain Blood?)