|Oh great, just what we need, another first person
shooter! Whats that you say? This game is actually worth playing? You mean there is life
after Half-Life? Oh yeah, there most definitely is. After playing through
most of Half-Life I didnt think there would be anything worth seeing in Blood
2, other than excess gore, but to my surprise this game actually rocks.
In Blood 2 you can take the role of Caleb, Ophelia, Ishmael, or Gabriella. Each has their own unique abilities and weapons. Caleb is the all-around character who uses a mix of all the games weapons, while Ophelia is more on the quick and stealthy side. Ishmael, on the other hand, has focused his abilities into the dark arts of magic and Gabriella is what you might call a human tank, being the strongest and carrying the most offensive punch. What this translates into is some pretty original deathmatch play and a good replay value in single-player.I played the game as Caleb, which is the same character as in Blood 1. Blood 2 takes place 100 years after the first game in which you killed the dark god Tchernobog. The Cabal--who were the worshippers of this Tchernobog--dont like you very much, especially their leader Gideon. Over the last 100 years the Cabal have formed into a mighty corporation called Cabalco. Since Gideon wants you dead and his master restored you must proceed through over 4 chapters and take on several bosses to ultimately defeat his little plan.
Blood 2 uses the Lithtech engine that was also used in Shogo and since then seems to have been slightly tweaked to run faster and smoother. The multiplayer setup isnt Quake 2s but the deathmatch play itself is very cool. You can custom build your character choosing what weapons you want before you play, giving the game an almost RPG-type flavor. Im not too fond of playing FPSs over a modem, but this ones well worth a look. If youre fortunate enough to have a LAN setup then you must definitely give this game a go.I wasnt really expecting any surprises in the graphics department, especially after playing Half-Life. I wouldnt say the graphics are better than Half-Lifes, but this game did have incredible lighting effects. Cool looking black-hole type rifts would open up releasing creatures, lightning inside the Cathedral would produce some cool shadows onto the floor and some enemies would actually appear and then disappear right in front of you. Overall, the graphics are very impressive.
The massive variety of weapons in Blood 2 is also quite impressive. Depending on your character you may have normal ammunition, energy weapons or magic weapons at your disposal. Since I played as Caleb I had a mix of both, all of which had cool graphic effects and perfect sound effects. Each weapon has primary and secondary fire buttons, which add even more to the already awesome destruction. You can even have two pistols or two double-barreled shotguns out at the same time. When you play deathmatch youll come to use all the weapons, my favorite being the blackhole gun, which actually generates a blackhole that sucks anybody into its center-- including yourself!Since Gideon is bent on killing you he will send any and every Cabal member after you, which is a long list of baddies. These guys range from just normal soldiers called Fanatics to full-fledged mini-gods. Youll have to take on at least 5 of these bosses before youll be left alone. The very first boss you will encounter is about 4 to 5 times taller than you are and shoots nasty red laser beams that try to cut you in two. These guys arent stupid, either; if you see one of the Shikari way off in the background or on a ledge way across the screen dont assume they will be there for long, since they can jump huge distances at insane speeds.
The music is nothing really special but the sound effects and voices are very well executed. From the deep-dark voice of Caleb to the thunder and rain, Monolith really did a fine job in creating the dark environment that Blood 2 strives for. The double-barrel shotgun sounds completely different when you fire one barrel or both simultaneously.The only real downfall I would say Blood 2 has is in its level design, which isnt bad by any means. But most of the levels dont seem to be as complex as those in Half-Life. As you progress through the very first chapter of levels it seems like you constantly come back to the same levels with only minor changes. I cant say this detracted from the single player experience a whole lot; the levels were more than acceptable, they just werent among the best Ive seen.
Overall, I had a better time with Blood 2 than I expected to, and I wouldnt hesitate to recommend this title over all other FPSs with the exception of Half-Life. Awesome graphics, sound, original character development, and some kick-ass weapons make this game a must have for any FPS fan.--Jon Hall