Game: Blood 2: The Chosen
Release Date (Windows): October 31, 1998
Release Date (Mac OS): n/a
CrossOver Profile: Read Here
WineHQ AppDB entry: Read Here
IMG Review: n/a
Test Platform: MacBook (Late-2006; GMA 950, 10.6.8, CX 11.2)
"If I'm going to miss getting into Heaven...Why miss it by inches?"
In many ways, a classic game's longevity can be attributed to its personality; the collection of visual and aural elements to a game that give it its distinctive style and feel. Just like how fighting Pigcops in porn shops and XXX theatres built up the personality of Duke Nukem 3D, 50-ft. tall mecha and ridiculously executed plot cliches contributed to the personality of Shogo: Mobile Armor Division. In fact, personality was one of the key features of Monolith's classic FPS titles, whether it was the signature 1960's style of the No One Lives Forever series, or the dank creepiness of Aliens vs. Predator. However, arguably, there was no game that signified this more from Monolith's stable of classics than one of its most beloved titles: Blood. One of the signature games that used the Build engine from Ken Silverman and 3DRealms, Blood was known for its dark humor and fiendish difficulty. Featuring an oddly disjointed aesthetic in its level design, a varied arsenal, and a smorgasboard of enemies, Blood quickly became a favorite among FPS enthusiasts. With the release of Shogo: Mobile Armor Division a year later in 1998, Blood's fans saw the potential of a new version of their beloved game using Monolith's up-and-coming Lithtech Engine. Unfortunately, what they got wasn't exactly what they were expecting.
"It's Howdy Doody time kiddies, the baaad man is here!"
It's worth of course, trying to remember what Blood 2 did right before focusing on the manifold ways in which Blood 2 failed. For starters, the game looked very, very nice. The quality of the game's character models, animations, and textures were a massive improvement on those seen in Shogo, and the level design was improved in certain areas, the floating Cabal airship being one memorable level. The game promised wanton carnage, and it certainly delivered, with weapons ranging from flare guns to howitzers. Just as with its predecessor, the game allowed you to dual wield weapons, and featured alternate-fire attacks. For people wanting the gunplay of the original Blood, tarted up in a fancy 3D engine, Blood 2 certainly looked, and played like it could deliver.
Unfortunately though, it didn't take much more than a casual playthrough of the game to realize that for many shooter fans, Blood 2's promise of intense horror-themed ultraviolence just ended up being little more than a flat, uninspired experience. Critical fan reviews panned it for its lack of creativity and originality - surprising considering how distinctive and creative Shogo was, and disappointing when compared to Half-Life. The levels were in many places highly linear and simplistic, in some cases even more so than in Shogo. For some, the guns lacked any sense of visceral punch, sounding weak and being underpowered. For the guns which weren't seen as useless, ammo for them was extremely sparse, leading to accusations of the game suffering from chronic balance issues. On top of that, some enemies - notably the extremely annoying Bone Leeches - had attacks and were used in ways which came across as being really cheap (e.g. the use of *red* colored Bone Leeches in levels were you were immersed in *red* colored liquids). And then there were the persistent, constant graphical bugs, and issues with poor enemy AI and pathfinding, at times leading to comically easy enemy encounters.
All of these however seemed to pale in comparison to the massive changes made to the game's setting and storyline. The dark, campy horror aesthetic which characterized Blood was apparently completely tossed in favor of a futuristic pseudo-Sci-Fi setting, where the ancient cult known as the Cabal had now inexplicably morphed into a sinister multinational megaconglomerate that seemed to channel Weyland-Yutani by way of Microsoft, Apple, and EA. (Maybe the Cabal had taken lessons from Number 2's management of Virtucon.) One of the main characters from the original Blood returned, but went through some sort of canon-bending sex change operation, appearing in Blood 2 as a woman. The dark humor of the first game was tossed as well, only to be replaced with a humorous sensibility which was at best, curiously odd (Why did they put in a joke referencing Gabe Newell in one of the loading screens?) and at worst, came across as being simply unfunny (Like the weird non-sequitor of a phone call that the player answers in a laundromat). In the minds of Monolith's devoted fans, while the humor in the original Blood was genuinely funny and entertaining, the humor in Blood 2 ended up feeling stilted, overly clichéd, and unfunny.