Retro Review: Blood II: The Chosen (PC)

Review-Blood-II-The-ChosenNot every 3D-shooter had the same success as the critically-acclaimed Quake series. Monolith hastily cranked out a sequel to the super-violent, cult-classic Blood, a Duke Nukem 3D-like shooter with bucket-loads of giblets, horror references and dark humour. It was a challenging game, featuring maze-like levels ranging from raided urban areas to barren winter wastelands, all of which are stuffed with explosive-tossing monks, monsters from the Netherrealm, and an army of the undead. Unfortunately, Blood II: The Chosen was little more than a bloody mess.

Back in the first game, the snarky and cruel Caleb defeated many followers of the satanic cult known as The Cabal. He was one of their top dogs before their dark god Tchernobog cast him down without explanation. Caleb rose from the grave, killed the nasty demon and inadvertently took the immense power of the god in the process. Now, a century later in the mysterious year of 2028, The Cabal is now thrice as powerful as the McDonalds company, currently under the control of a warlock named Gideon. Unsurprisingly, he wants Caleb dead really quick. So, y'know...don't let that happen.

Being a three-dimensional first-person shooter, the graphics are pretty good for its time, yet the animations are a bit stiff. Take the cut-scenes for example; if you reach a specific place, the camera will switch between whoever is talking whilst Caleb stands on the spot, sharpishly looking left and right. Some comic-book cut-scenes with dialogue playing over them would have been more appropriate...and less embarrassing to watch.

This sequel is not too similar to Blood. For one thing, the levels have been reduced to nothing more than forgettable, linear missions with the occasional objective that requires a bit of stumbling around to find, for instance, a switch. Some enemies may require slaughtering in order to advance. The boss battles are terrible as well, for the arenas featuring the bosses are usually small and compact, offering little space to dodge the truly deadly attacks from the big baddies.

A nice addition is the ability to play as the ex-commanders of The Cabal's army known as The Chosen, who will appear at times in the story to exchange humorous dialogue. Some of them are quicker or can sustain more damage than others. Picking anyone other than the all-rounder Caleb will mean no cut-scenes will play. The Chosen are recommended for those who are more interested in shooting things with no interruptions. They can be chosen in multiplayer mode as well. Each offer a different weapon loadout. It makes it fair, but the BloodBath deathmatches are nothing special, even if the announcer does exclaim some darkly humorous verbs when a player dies.

Review-Blood-II-The-Chosen-Screenshot

A plethora of weapons are available to wave around. Some of them feel a bit too samey, such as the SMGs and Assault Rifle, the latter fires faster but dishes out less damage. Bag either of these and you're set for life. Getting an over-reliable and generic weapon to blast through most of the game with is just no fun, especially considering they have incredibly large ammo capacities and do not require reloading. Some weapons have alternate-firing modes which perform different attacks, such as a mounted grenade launcher. Yet, most of them have stock firing noises and sound none too satisfying when fired (particularly the weedy pop from the sawn-off shotguns).

Certain foes will really bring your blood to boiling-point. Leeches will swim around, making underwater segments even more perilous and annoying, and will suck away life unless the space bar is mashed to no end. And never ever will you encounter anything more evil than a certain over-powered monster, who will take too many rounds to kill and will dish out about 40% damage per hit. The worst thing is, these freaky 'effers are quite common! They often appear in tight corridors, blocking both the entrance and exit, ready for a very cheap ambush.

As dark and serious as the game sounds, it has some damn funny writing. Not unintentionally-funny, mind you. There's enough cheesy one-liners to crack a smile at, and the interactions between characters will definitely make you grin. The voice acting is also pretty good as well. Between the lightning-fast loading times are some amusing snippets of context for each level, which aren't particularly useful but are no doubt entertaining to skim through. There are even moments where things like a phone can be interacted with for a one-liner or a goofy conversation. Then again, some of the characters seem to exclaim long sentences when they are hurt, aside from yelling "Ouch!", "Oof!", and the like.

On the other hand, not even its sense of humour could prevent Blood II: The Chosen digging its own grave, for it is rife with irritating flaws. Weak guns gib foes easily, and the blood effects are far from stomach-churning. Items can be obliterated with a single shot. Special effects like explosions and portals appear with no sounds playing, whilst civilians wave their hands at you and recite the same ol' dialogue (which tend to overlap with other lines) when harmed. Boxes stacked upon other containers will float if the ones below are destroyed. And its soundtrack attempts to capture ambiance but fails to get the skin to creep and crawl like the atmospheric songs of the previous game did. The list of sins go on....

The rushed development for Blood II: The Chosen was a big nail in the coffin for the series. The final battle abruptly ends with credits rolling and questions unanswered. Its unpolished and unbalanced gameplay was in due part to its buggy engine, braindead AI, poor sound effects...the list goes on. It's such a shame, because the Monolith team tried their hardest to appease their fans, but they simply ran out of time and ended up giving birth to an abomination.

Blood II: The Chosen (Gameplay Video)


Last Updated ( 24 January 2016 )  

Comments 

(Link to this comment) ninjaalex 2016-01-27 03:00
In a bizarre coincidence I started playing this earlier this month. Nice review, this game was harshly panned, but it's actually well worth a play.
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