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Blood II: The Chosen (Windows)

ESRB Rating
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Maw (849)
Written on  :  Nov 25, 2007
Rating  :  1.71 Stars1.71 Stars1.71 Stars1.71 Stars1.71 Stars

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So boring and retarded it's not even worth bashing

The Good

I've been a fan of the Blood series since I played the shareware in 2003. Countless fun hours were spent setting people on fire with the flaregun, blowing them up with dynamite, and stabbing them with the voodoo doll. The Plasma Pak and Cryptic Passage expansions continued the carnage. Sure, it was nothing revolutionary, but the Blood games were simple addictive shooters. And when the chips are down, that's all you need.

Things started going crapwards for Monolith in 1998 with the abysmal Get Medieval, followed by the mediocre Shogo: Mobile Armor Division. I was skeptical but hopeful about Blood 2. 3D adaptations of 2D games don't have the most inspiring track record ever, but this is Blood we were talking about! What is there to get wrong? Just give me a 3D rendition of Blood's simplistic action and I'd be happy. Surely they couldn't screw that up? Sadly, they have. The murky toilet waters of Suck are once again lapping at Monolith's feet, and it seems the last man didn't flush.

The story is set about 100 years after the original Blood. Once again you play as the undead cowboy Caleb who has wandered the earth alone for the last century, and who once again finds his immortal soul threatened. You see, the evil cult he battled in the original Blood still exists and is now a big pimpin' organisation with billions of dollars, hundreds of assassins, and intents upon world domination. And their leader, Gideon, wants Caleb dead at all costs.

At a conceptual level the Blood 2 is the same as its prequel. You fight both human cultists and monsters (only this time, the monsters exist through genetic engineering rather than the supernatural). The game adopts the mission-based structure of Quake 2, but this usually works out to "exterminate all opposition and find the exit". Of course, there's lots of gore and gibbitude, and insofar as weapons are concerned all the old favorites are back (the flare gun, the voodoo doll), coupled with high-tech offerings like M11 assault rifles and Uzis. All weapons have secondary fire modes with allows for some variation in your attacks.

The action, although hardly thrilling, is fast-paced and the game dispenses with the annoying puzzles that sometimes plagued Blood. The new weapons and enemies are okay and the game is certainly as gory as its predecessor (in fact: probably more so because it's not being played for laughs. Blood 2 is far more serious than Blood).

The Bad

Blood 2 has lots of problems that can all be summed up as "the developers didn't give a crap".

Blood 2 was released side by side with Shogo: Mobile Armor Division. Comparing both games, it's pretty obvious which horse Monolith was backing. Shogo has squad combat, giant robots, an advanced lighting and physics engine, and an interactive story. Blood 2 has, uh, fancy blood splatters. When a studio is developing two games simultaneously it usually puts its money and effort behind one, while treating the other game as a backup if the first one fails. In this situation, Blood 2 was the backup, and contains all the associated cheapness and corner-cutting.

I suspect this game was made either to fulfill a contract or extract a few more dollars out of a license. Blood 2 is bad, but not in a spectacular car-crash kind of way. It's bad in a boring, instantly forgettable way. Blood 2 is so punishingly generic and rote there's not much to write about it. It's depressing because Monolith is a studio capable of much better. You can tell they weren't even trying when they made this.

It's like the game was made in a perverse spirit of "let's take away all of Blood's cool stuff". Blood had endless corny one-liners and pop culture references, Blood 2 has almost no humor at all. Blood had lots of environmental interaction, Blood 2 strips it back to Doom levels. Blood let you play in levels as diverse as a mausoleum and a circus, Blood 2 restricts you to factories, laboratories, and empty apartments. Blood had a cool wild west theme, Blood 2 is a generic futuristic shooter.

The one selling point Blood 2 has feels like it was shoved into the game so there would be something, anything, to write about in the game's promo material. You get to play as multiple characters with different stats. Caleb has resurrected three of his co-lieutenants and at different times you get to play as them, although this ends up feeling pretty redundant. They have different stats, but at the end of the day Ishmael, Ophelia and Gabriella are simply clones of your default character, and there's no quantifiable difference between any of them. Not to mention this knight/cleric/wizard/barbarian thing has been done to death in thousands of RPGs and a good number of FPSs (Hexen is a good place to start). This is hardly an exciting, must-buy feature.

Unlike Blood, Blood 2 uses a true 3D engine. While this may sound like a radical step forward, the game is so simple to begin with that the extra dimension adds nothing to the game. Having fancy lighting and explosions and z-axis aiming is nice, but the level design is so simplistic it might as well still be using the Build engine. The game's 3Dness is nothing more than a gimmick. I'm reminded of carpenter friend who for years used an ordinary hand-router, only to finally pay $300 for an electric router he didn't actually need because he felt he needed to keep with the times.

The game uses the LithTech engine, which to put it bluntly is a piece of crap. Blood 2 looks much worse than Quake 2 and Unreal, and is far less stable than either of those games. Expect access violations, messed up palettes, clipping errors, and other things. I lost count of the number of times I saw an enemy waving his arms through a wall. Visually the game is acceptable, but there's far too much gray (you could call Blood 2 a spiritual prequel to F.E.A.R.) and the models are extremely blocky. As far as audio goes, the game doesn't boast a dynamic sound track a'la Shogo but rather pre-recorded sound. The voice acting is crap, with Gabriel's in particular being downright awful.

The content and design is given woefully short shrift. And about the levels...well, I hope you like mazes. Blood 2 is lousy with them. The game has so many key hunts that the developers make humorous reference to it during the levels (one of your objectives is "shoot some stuff and find the key" or something). It's true that Blood also had a lot of key hunts, but that game was interesting. It had good level design. Blood 2 is pure dullsville, and having to undergo lots of repetitive key-hunting in a boring game is the gaming equivalent of Chinese water torture.

The difficulty is just as bad as Shogo's on-foot levels. On the easiest level your enemies are mentally retarded lobotomy patients who quite often kill themselves, and as the difficulty goes up the enemies don't become any smarter but rather gain superhuman reflexes and accuracy, which isn't a whole bag of fun. On high difficulty it becomes literally impossible to play the game with low health since the enemies will take you out the instant you walk around a corner.

The game shipped with a reasonably complete multiplayer mode, and no doubt Monolith hoped it would join the list of games that lacked single player appeal but become multiplayer hits (Quake comes to mind here). Unfortunately multiplayer games proved laggy and unstable, and the server set up for the game was soon taken down through lack of activity.

They couldn't even get the gibbing right! When you stab someone with a knife or blow them up with a missile, the result is exactly the same: their limbs go flying off at weird angles and their torso disintegrates. And you can kick severed heads around like before, but not even this is as fun as in the original.

The Bottom Line

Blood 2 is totally worthless as a sequel and a game. It was junk when it came out and today you need to play it like you need an axewound to your skull. This isn't a game you should avoid. This is a game you should simply ignore.