Blood Wake is one of
those games that youll either love or hate. The premise is fairly simple: You play a
disgruntled former officer in the navy of some southeast Asian styled country. One day, on
routine patrol duty in "Gulf of the Moon" your crew is attacked by your fellow
water-based commandos. You are rescued by a pirate gang, and by proving your abilities to
them you begin the arduous task of revenge. Blood Wake isnt winning any awards based
on story, plot, dialogue or cutscenes. This game is all about running and gunning with a
whole bunch of really beautiful water effects to round it out.
everything about Blood Wake, the story is pretty simple. It is relayed through narrative
and dialogue spoken over still sketches of the main characters. Perhaps the hackneyed
plotline could have become somewhat meaningful if the story had been played out in
cutscenes rendered as beautifully as the rest of the game, but no luck here. This style of
narration seems out of place on the Xbox, where weve become used to beautiful
animation and lots of bells and whistles. But most importantly, the lackluster narrative
sequences that precede each mission serve to focus the gamer on the real meat of the game
Controls in Blood Wake are very straightforward. You use the triggers to fire
primary and secondary weapons, the analog stick to steer, and the buttons to toggle
between your primary weapons and give you turbo boosts. The screen is barely marred by the
radar and health/turbo displays. Theres plenty of room to see whats going on
around you, and thats important. For a game that has you jockeying boats at high
speeds through a variety of water conditions (calm, choppy, day, night), the controls are
amazingly responsive. Some gamers have still found room to complain that the controls are
too loose, but this is really a function of simulating watercraft. As anyone who has
picked up Splashdown or WaveRace knows, piloting vehicles on water is not the same as
piloting vehicles on land. What is remarkable about Blood Wake is that after a little
practice it becomes possible to execute really amazing maneuvers in your gunboats.
There are five major categories of boats: speedboat, catamaran, gunboat, devil
boat, and hydroplane. Each of these categories features several styles, which youll
use on different missions. At the beginning of each mission you are given a boat and
dont have much choice about which boat you will use. Fortunately, they are all
well-equipped with serious firepower. Chain guns, autocannons, rocket launchers,
torpedoes, mines, stingers, and wave guns all help you create carnage wherever you roam.
Each of these weapons works in very different ways, requiring you to spend some time
getting used to each one. This provides a lot of the strategy and technique in the game.
Once youve mastered driving and shooting you will be an unstoppable naval nightmare.
There are 28 missions in the game, and they are, as a rule, pretty tough. Most
missions after the first few will require three or four plays to beat. You are tasked with
chores such as patrolling a bay, eliminating a particular enemy boat, protecting fleets of
allies, or infiltrating enemy compounds. Although each mission uses a unique map and
requires you to figure out a winning strategy, there is a sameness that can get bland for
some gamers. If you do not really enjoy driving your boat around and blowing away other
boats and gun turrets, you will probably not really enjoy beating Blood Wake.
There is a multiplayer mode that supports up to four pirates dueling, and you
can activate enemy bots to fill out your multiplayer battles. The multiplayer plays pretty
much the same as a mission, except without the narrative goals. Also, multiplayer adds
some powerups not found in the single player mode. Here you can find firepower, speed,
shield and accuracy powerups to give you an edge over the competition. This mode can be a
lot of fun, especially when going up against experienced Blood Wake gamers.
The technical achievement of Blood Wake is really what makes the game. Never
before has water looked so amazing. Sure, there are some really good water games out there
that have phenomenal graphics (again, Id cite Splashdown and WaveRace as two must
play titles for water gaming fans), but Blood Wake translates this aquatic beauty to a
whole new style of game. There is no racing in Blood Wake, except when youre running
for your life. Explosions are beautiful, and the trails of torpedoes speeding through the
water are amazing. The water really affects the game, too. Hit choppy seas with the wrong
arsenal and you could be in for a world of hurt. The water is accentuated by beautiful
land and sky graphics, too. Lighting effects are gorgeous, and the whole game is just damn
But even beautiful graphics cant break Blood Wake out of its niche
ghetto. It is and forever will be a game for fans of water based combat. It wont
appeal to many gamers. Witness the wide variety of review scores this game has received
from magazines and websites and youll see that its success or failure really depends
on your individual tastes as a gamer. This is true for every game to some extent, but
lets not kid ourselves that Blood Wake is basically 28 missions that are all very
similar. You spend a lot of time tracking down enemies and shooting them. While the array
of weapons and boat types helps inject some variety, these elements can never overcome the
basic goal of the game kill all bad guys. With an underdeveloped narrative, this
killing all bad guys reduces the appeal of the game to whether or not you enjoy the
experience of driving your boat and gunning down opponents. It is very possible that you
will. It left me a little cold.
Blood Wake is such a niche title, I cannot recommend it for every gamer out there.
However, I would suggest that any gamer with an Xbox give it a rental if for no other
reason than to gawk at the pretty graphics. Blood Wake will keep even the least interested
busy for an evening, and if you really get into this game you could be playing it until
the sequel comes out. Well worth the rental, but a cautious buy, Blood Wake is nonetheless
a great game to have available on the Xbox system.