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All the way back in 1997, when first-person shooters (FPS) still kicked arse and we weren’t sitting down in front of Call Of Duty 27: Future Warfare With Aliens And Stuff or whatever the fuck we’re up to now, Blood, one of the most violent, insane and awesome FPS’s of all time, was unleashed upon a blood-thirsty public. id Software paved the way for the FPS genre with 1992’s Wolfenstein 3D and 1993’s Doom, but it was the release of Blood that showed how far you could go and how fucked-up you could be.

Blood was initially being developed by 3D Realms (who a year before had developed the hit FPS Duke Nukem 3D), until the rights were sold and the game was completed by Monolith Productions (who later went on to develop the popular F.E.A.R. and Condemned series). It was built on the Build engine which famously powered Duke Nukem 3D. The Build engine was created by Ken Silverman, who started work on the engine in 1993, when he was just 18 years old! The Build engine was revolutionary at the time, since it was generally considered to be a 2.5D engine, meaning that although the engine was represented on a 2D grid, it allowed the developer to work with a variable height component, allowing for split-level design, and renders the world in a way that appears three-dimensional. This allowed much more freedom for level design than id had with its Doom engine.

But enough about the technical side of things, let’s talk about the game itself. The player controls a character named Caleb who in the late 19th century, was supreme commander of a cult who called themselves “The Cabal”, worshippers of the god Tchernobog. He was one of 4 members of “The Chosen”, the highest circle of the cult, until the were all betrayed and killed by Tchernobog. The game starts with Caleb mysteriously being resurrected, and across its four episodes, each with about eight or nine levels, Caleb must find and kill Tchernobog’s lieutenants, until he has to fight Tchernobog himself.

What a fucking awesome game Blood was. Playing it again recently, I was floored by how good it still looks. Of course, being 15 years old, it has aged, but still looks and plays surprisngly well. The gore effects still look amazing, and it was fun playing with all the differnet weapons and being reminded of their devastating effects. Seriously, the arsenal of weapons is the best thing about the game, and for my money, it’s the best selection of weapons in any game. You have your standard melee weapon, in this case the pitchfork, which you can use to remove a zombie’s head, and then kick the zombie’s head around. There’s a flare gun which when fired at an enemy, will light them on fire, which makes them run around screaming in pain until they collapse, dead. Nice. There’s a combination can of aerosol and lighter which can be used for the same effect. There’s a sawed-off shotgun, a tommy gun, napalm launcher, dynamite, a shock rifle named after Nikola Tesla. There’s also what looks like shaman’s staff that can be used to fire pulses of energy. Then finally my personal favourite, a voodoo doll that can be used in one of two ways: either stabbing the doll which does small amounts of damage to the enemy you’re aiming at, or running the needle all the way along the doll, which rips every last bit of flesh from your enemy, leaving behing their skeleton before that collapses to the ground. It does not get any better than that. Below is a video showing all the weapons off.

Along with the brutal arsenal of weaponry, there’s also some fantastic levels to play around in, all very well designed. There’s a mortuary, a train station, a train, a carnival (complete with attractions and playable games, fuck yeah!), a hospital (with its own “assissted suicide” room), a lumber mill, even a mall (called “The Mall of the Dead”)!

The game is not only incredibly gory, it’s incredibly funny, and littered with pop-culture references, for those with a keen eye. Some of Caleb’s dialogue is lifted straight from Army Of Darkness (including Caleb’s first words “I live… again!”). There’s references to tons of horror movies, like Phantasm, Dawn Of The Dead, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday The 13th, and others. There’s a snow covered maze with a man frozen to death outside the “Overlooked Hotel” (a clear reference to The Shining). And if you know where to look, you can even find the corpse of Duke Nukem himself hanging upside-down and torn apart!

Poor Duke Nukem has seen better days...

The game is a shitload of fun from beginning to end, whether you’re playing through it properly, or playing with the multitude of cheats that FPS’s were known for back in the day. It may be 15 years old, but it’s still fucking awesome, and I cannot recommened it highly enough, whether you’ve played it before but it’s been a long time, or you’re new to it, and want a cool old game to play around with.

My suggestion to you is to stop reading this review, head on over to the Good Old Games website, pay them the measly $5.99 for the Blood: One Unit Whole (which includes Blood and the addons Plasma Pak and Cryptic Passage) and then download and play that mother fucker. Then come back here to The Dukes Playground, and drop me a comment about how much fun you just had. You won’t regret it.

Direct link to Blood on GOG.com

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