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Blood 2: The Chosen review @ 3DGW

Blood 2 - The Chosen

Publisher: GT Interactive
Developer: Monolith Productions
Demo: Download (36MB)
Release Date: Available

System Requirements: P133, 16MB, Win95/98

Recommended: Pentium 2, 64MB, Voodoo 2/Banshee/TNT, 32x CD-ROM or 500megs of HD space (CD-ROM for min. install option, HD space for max. install option)

In 1998 there was quite a few 3D shooters released. Most of them were built up on existing game engines but were slightly modified. Monolith decided to take a different route and build up their own engine to use in their 3D shooters. The engine is called LithTech and it is very similar to the others but has some different things to it. The Blood2 demo did not impress me at all. It was buggy, slow, and too hard. I'm happy to report that most of these flaws have been improved for the full version of this game.

Blood2 takes place in the near future, the year 2028 with Cabel fighting the evil forces of Cabal and the new corporation, Cabalco. You spend most of the game fighting Cabalco's agents but some other interesting enemies seem to come out every once in a while. Your objective is to chase the bad guy, Gideon through all 30 of Blood's well designed levels.

Blood2 takes small steps from the traditional 3D shooters which includes being able to choose from four different characters. Caleb would be the most popular choice because if you do not choose him you do not get the cut scenes or the load of one-liners. If you've played Shogo-MAD than you pretty much know how this game plays. Both games use the same LithTech engine and have striking similarities at times. Last time in a review that I forgot to mention this, I got flamed so here it goes. The game has long load times, well over a minute on most levels - especially if you have the minimum install where the levels must load off the CD. That's why I recommend the fast cd-rom if you do not have room for the full-blown install.

The controls work well and I never seem to have problems though except watch the mouse sensitivity! Set it half way and a tap of your mouse will send you around doing a few 360's. Luckily you can adjust the sensitivity to much lower levels. I had some problems with getting stuck on ladders though. The way Caleb moves makes him seem like a super human. He jumps like a grasshopper and runs real fast - to the point of being very unrealistic at times. What kind of person can jump 6 feet?. The difficulty levels are all very different. Easy is pretty simple and you have to suck pretty bad to die a lot in this skill setting. Medium is for the average player and Hard is well, hard!

Sadly there is not very much variety when it comes to baddies in this game. You have your standard army fanatics (people who work for Cabalco), living zombies who shout crazy things at you, some weird looking but violent animals and some sub-bosses. The AI of the enemies is about average.. well maybe a notch above but not by much. The enemies NEVER take evasive action or plan strategies like the amazing AI of Half Life's enemies. They just stand at their set point and shoot away doing nothing else. On occasion I would see someone duck, but they seem to never move. The civilians throughout the game are interactive and you can go up and talk to them. A lot of them badmouth you which means it's time to pull out that pocket knife. In one particular part near the beginning you enter a laundro-mat and there is a washing machine on with some bloody legs that are sticking out. There is a girl standing beside it and she says something like " I guess he put his head in too far." Now, what would you say or do if you saw a man being eaten by a washing machine?! I hope that was intended humor. There are two types of civilians - men and women. They pretty much all look the same which makes some parts repetitive.

As I mentioned before the game is similar to Shogo in some ways like the enemy movement and even the guns that they use. Blood2 is a lot more evil and darker than Shogo though which takes your mind off of the similarities. Cabel has a lot of one-liners some examples being "sun of a bitch".. not just your average "SOB" but one with a very, very evil voice. I must admit I really enjoyed Cabel's voice acting in this game.

Multiplayer was okay to say the least. Some levels were excellent for deathmatch, while others were terrible. It takes some time getting used to having all of the weapons at once but eventually I ended up picking some favorites and always using them. Multiplayer was laggy at times and I truly enjoyed the single player aspect of this game more than the multiplayer. However, if you have a LAN set up the lag will be gone and it will be a different story.

I didn't play Shogo that much (frankly I got bored quick) but I fired it up because I started to notice some very similar things. First of all, some of the enemies in Shogo and Blood2 are the exact same! All that's different is a different skin on the model or sometimes even just a different color of shirt. What does this conclude? That Blood2 is basically one big TC (Total Conversion) of Shogo. I find it sad that Monolith had to rush this game so much that they actually re-used code in some parts. Aside from that the graphics are very beautiful. Explosions are the particular highlight of this game because they look really nice. Some textures seem repetitive at times especially when indoors. Everything seems "grayish" but outdoors the variety of environments is there. Blood2 uses polysynthoric lighting effects which is some technical name for some advanced lighting which meets your eye only with certain weapons. This is one feature Shogo lacked.

The cinematic's for Blood2 are done within the game engine - a route that most game designers seem to be taking nowadays. They are well done and Caleb's model looks really damn cool when you see it in a cinematic. The opening cinematic is just one scene of Cabel walking - it would be nice to see some fancy hollywood cinematic's at the beginning. Overall, some well done cut-scenes even if they are done within the game engine.

On the technical side of things Blood2 needs some power. I found my 400MHz K6-2 with 64MB RAM and a 12Mb Voodoo2 at 100MHz not enough to keep this game at constant fast frame rates in the High detail setting. To say the least, don't attempt to run this game with the minimum requirements of a P133 and 16MB. Blood2 only used Direct3D acceleration and lacks the beloved OpenGL support that I've come to know and love.

The sound effects are great - including the weapon sounds but I have yet to see a game that gives you sound effects so real and dynamic that they sound totally believable. I want to hear what a grenade sounds like blowing up right in front of me and I want to hear what it's like to have bullets pierce your body. Okay, now I'm getting a little graphic but the realism of sound effects in games now is not real enough. I know the technology is there but why don't we have sounds that real. This isn't hammering Blood2 in particular, but this is a message to all game designers. Blood2 compared to other games has great sound effects to say the least and I was really impressed with them.

The ambient music in the game really sets the sinister mood that the designers obviously wanted you to feel. Sometimes the music isn't there and sometimes it is nothing more than several bursts of deep bass but it really enhanced the mood of this game. Good job to the guys at Monolith for this one. Sadly there is no 3D audio support, not even the puny DirectSound3D. As always, 3D sound would be great in a game like this, but no luck.


I have a lot of mixed feelings about this game but I'm going to say that I think it is an above average shooter and I enjoyed this game quite a bit. I have my complaints but overall it's a job well done, especially in the mood-setting department. If your looking for a different 3D shooter, go treat yourself to a few hours of Blood2.

Gameplay: 80%
Multiplayer: 70%
Graphics: 78%
Sound: 80%
Overall: 77%


Reviewed by: Adam "kami" Koebel
Date: February 1, 1999

Test System:
AMD K6-2 clocked at 400MHz on a FIC VA-503+
4.3gig JTS Champion
ATI 3D Charger 4MB
AOpen PA2000 Voodoo2 12MB provided by AOpen America, Inc.
Diamond MonsterSound MX300
MS SideWinder 3D Pro joystick   
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