Review: Blood: Fresh Supply (PC – Steam) ~ He lives AGAIN.

Blood_logoWikipedia entry – Steam linkSteam link
The Build Engine. One of the biggest game engines ever created in 3D shooter history. Three landmark titles have been created in that engine called Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior and today’s topic: Blood. Back in the day, I used to download a lot of old archived shareware or demo versions of old DOS games. In one of these adventures, I downloaded the demo for the legendary Blood, and I was hooked. At the time, things like Steam weren’t what they are today and I still was in secondary school (high school for you Americans) and too young to start a holiday job. Then, on one summer Steam sale, I found this game for a rather cheap price and I thought: “Why not.”. So, I bought the game for €1 and moved on with my day. Then, COVID-19 happened last year, and I was looking through my game library to play after work. I booted up Blood, and it got my top 10 games of 2020 list. Why did I give this game a spot on my top 10 games list? What did I like so much about this game to place it on that list? Let’s find out together while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts/opinions on the content of the article and/or the game.

He lives AGAIN

Blood 1In this game, you take on the role of Caleb. Caleb has a reputation for being a merciless gunfighter from the Midwest. Caleb is a servant of the god Tchernobog and his minions called ‘The Cabal’. Now, for some reason, our “friendly” god kills Caleb and his fellow chosen for whatever reason and dumps Caleb in a grave. Caleb rises up from his grave several years later, and he is looking for vengeance of course.

Like your typical old school 3D shooters, the story isn’t the main focus of this game. Most of the story in this game is told through cutscenes at the start and end of a chapter and the environment that you are going through. Speaking about which, there is are  a lot of moments like: you start on the train you that you crashed in the previous level. The whole game feels interconnected due to small details like that.

There are a few cutscenes in the game that enhance the story by a little. The reason I’m saying only a little is that the total runtime of these cutscenes is give or take only 5 minutes. Which is a shame, since the cutscenes really added to the atmosphere of the game. On the other hand, I think that if this game had more cutscenes, it would overpower the gameplay and the environmental story telling.

There is voice acting in this game. Of course, you have your typical enemy shouting that is as immersive as the cowboy shouting from Outlaws. You also have your wise-cracking main character Caleb voiced by Stephan Weyte. Stephan also did voice work for one of my favorite edutainment companies Humongous Entertainment. He voiced several side characters in the Pajama Sam and Freddi Fish games. Before I start rambling about unrelated things for this review, I have to say that Stephan killed it with his performance in this game. His delivery is extremely memorable, and I love his voice work for this game. A fun fact is that the voice acting for our evil god has been done by the executive producer Jace Hall.

Should you play Blood for the story? Oh, heavens no. Don’t misunderstand me here, the story of this game is fine, but it is far from the best story you can experience in a shooter. The story is there to set the mood and set up the atmosphere of this game and to help you immerse yourself in the game. But, nothing more nothing less.

Now, if we check on the Blood Wiki on the amount of different versions and ports that this game got we learn that there are two versions of this game on Steam. You have Blood – Fresh Supply and Blood – One Unit Whole Blood. At the moment of writing, the “One Unit Whole Blood” version has been removed from Steam and the “Fresh Supply” version is still up for sale. I found a nice forum post about the biggest differences on the GOG.com forums between the two versions. As the title suggests, I played Fresh Supply for this review.

Crazy cultists

Blood 3I don’t think I have to explain what you have to do in old school 3D shooter games. You have to fight various enemies, find keys to open doors, do some platforming and solve some puzzles. Personally, I compare this game in a way to games like Heretic and Duke Nukem 3D. It’s an old school 3D shooter with amazing weapons and power ups to aid you in your battle against your enemies. There are a lot of different enemies with their own attack sound, strengths, and weaknesses.

Most of the weapons in this game has a secondary fire mode. For example, the double barred shotgun secondary fire shoots both bullets at once or the Tommy gun’s second fire let out a burst of bullets where you swing the weapon back and forth. You can even use one weapon as a turret and another weapon is a voodoo doll.

But the most iconic weapon in Blood is the dynamite. There are big differences in terms of the dynamite you can use. You have your normal dynamite, proximity, and dynamite you can remotely detonate. Depending on the chosen difficulty, the skill to use your weapons and especially dynamite is essential to your survival. I can’t count how many times I had to resort to dynamite to “thin out the herd”.

Speaking about the difficulty, if you aren’t too familiar with all Blood’s mechanics and secrets and different routes, I don’t advise the higher difficulty settings. I have to admit that I’m not the most skilled player when it comes to shooters and I had an extremely hard time with the medium setting. Get used to the mechanics of this game before you play on the highest difficulty settings and thank me later. The game is otherwise too frustrating for newcomers.

Earlier, I said that this game feels quite interconnected due to the level design. That start of the level represents the previous level. Most of the levels have a sort of linear design. You have to backtrack quite rarely. Yet, I found myself stuck in a few levels and the map system, while impressive, was far from helpful. Now, in terms of map systems, I think I might be spoiled by the more modern design methods where the key door locations are marked on your map.

Sadly enough, there are some moments that the level design wasn’t the best. For example, I found one or two spots where you can get soft locked. But more annoyingly, I found some monster rooms quite annoying since the exit gets locked, and you have to go switch hunt. I think these moments could have benefitted from Caleb saying: “Where is the switch” when interacting with the door.

This game is controlled through mouse and keyboard. While this game has controller support, I only played this game through mouse and keyboard. I didn’t have any problems with the controls and felt they worked amazingly. After a minor bit of tweaking to fit the AZERTY lay-out better that we use here in Belgium, I was able to master the responsive controls.

Visually, this game still looks fine. The visual improvements you can choose to either enable or disable are a great way to choose between the vanilla textures and the newer “more modern” visuals. Of course, this game really shows its age in the visual department but, that isn’t a bad thing for this game. I still find that the visual atmosphere is created amazingly, and I feel that the world still feels somewhat real and alive.

Something that truly impressed me are the animations. The animations in this game are a masterclass in how animations should look in shooter games. Enemies that get shot in the legs crawl towards you and keep shooting, enemies set on fire with a flare run around crazily… And that are just two examples.

Very rarely, I found some visual glitches. In one level there was some Z-fighting with a pillar switch. (Z-Fighting is when two textures overlap and the game can’t decide which one to show, so it flickers in between them.) In some spots, the shells of the Tommy gun vanished. These moments were thankfully rare and didn’t impact gameplay too much.

Dynamite

Blood 2The sound design in this game is extremely important. If you don’t pay attention to the well crafted sound effects, you might miss some important enemy cues especially from the zombies. Since those don’t die right away from the weaker weapons. So, yeah, heard of hearing and deaf people are disavantaged when it comes to this game.

Sadly enough, the soundtrack could have been better. I feel that it’s too short and for some reason, it bugged out during my playthrough and it didn’t always play. While I was writing this section of the review, I was listening to the soundtrack on YouTube and I heard some tracks I haven’t heard in the game. While the music in itself is quite good and adds a lot to the atmosphere but it being only around 30 minutes, I felt that the soundtrack is too short for the game’s length.

This game has the perfect length for a shooter game like this. This game packs all the expansion packs so that means that a casual playthrough might take you around 10-ish hours. If you want to go for 100% you might be able to double that. But, this game gets so much more challenging and rewarding when you play it on higher difficulty settings so you might be able to get a lot more hours out of it than that.

Now, there is one thing in terms of the UI I really didn’t like. That’s the weapon wheel / ammo system. Let me explain. In the bottom center, you can see how much ammo you have for your weapons. Just like in other shooters from that time period, you have no idea which number corresponds with which weapon. It still shows “0″ even when you don’t have that weapon. The weapon wheel also doesn’t really show well to which weapon it’s going to switch since, it’s a wheel. When you pass the last weapon, it goes back to the first.

There is one thing I feel that the game totally dropped the ball on. And that’s the saving system. It’s not that the saving system doesn’t work, but it’s extremely bare bones. This game uses manual saving. There is no checkpoint saves when you enter a new level, but that isn’t such a big problem. I don’t mind manually saving once in a while I enter a new level or passed a difficult section. What I do mind is that the load system doesn’t give you ANY information in which level the save is. On top of that, you only have a limited amount of save slots and no visual information when you successfully saved the game. I worked around it by naming my saves with the level name like: “E1M3” (Episode 1 Map 3) and some additional info, but it shouldn’t be such a pain. Thankfully, we have a way better system now-a-days.

A minor thing that I really didn’t like in this game is the respawn mechanic. Of course, when you die, you are going to respawn at the start of the level with only your pitchfork. No problem there. But, the issue is in my opinion that the reloading just take a bit too long for my liking. It’s always faster to load your save from the pause menu then waiting on the game to respawn you. It might also save you some frustration since “pitchfork starting” isn’t always the most enjoyable way to play some levels.

This game also has Steam Achievements. These were a whole lot of fun to try and get. After I had beaten the game, I got 6 out of the 20 achievements. I could have gotten more but for some reason, my game glitched out and some achievements are still locked. Oh well, all the more reason for me to play through the game again at a later date.

There is quite a long list of references in this game. While I was 5 years old at the time of the original release, I had to admit I was able to pick up on several references. Maybe my love for retro games and retro media might have helped me out quite a lot there.

Oh, before I forget, there is a multiplayer mode in this game. I’m sorry but I haven’t played it at all so I’m not going to comment on it. But, from what I have read and seen, you both have your typical death match gameplay and a way to play through the campaign in a co-op fashion. That is sounding quite interesting for when I can let friends come over again.

And with that said, I think it’s high time for me to wrap up this review. I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game and before I ramble on and on, I’m going to wrap up this article in a neat conclusion like I usually do for my review articles.

Conclusion time

The good:

+ Amazing shooter with replay value.

+ Easy to learn but oh so difficult to master.

+ Still good looking after all these years.

+ Amazing audio design.

+ …

The bad:

-The save and load system isn’t the best.

-The weapon wheel is a bit broken.

-Some softlocks / switch hunting moments.

Final thoughts:

Blood is a game that came out in 1997. This game is almost 25 years old and I have to say that this game still holds up amazingly well. The visual improvements that the Fresh Supply remake brings to the table are amazing. It gives a breath of fresh air in an already amazing game.

While I was researching this game, I found several video’s by one of my favorite YouTubers Civvie11. The release of this remake wasn’t the best. Thankfully, through the years, the game got various patches and updates that improved the game quite a lot to the point that I barely noticed the points that Civvie gave in his original “Blood: Fresh Supply is broken” video.

Apart from some flaws, this game holds up amazingly well. I knew that Blood had a high reputation when I started playing it and I was so happy when the game didn’t dissapoint me at all. Of course, I encountered some jank because this game isn’t the newest but that’s to be expected.

Would I recommend this game to people who enjoy shooters? Absolutely. This game gets an easy recommendation from me. The game costs only 8,2€ here and let me tell you, you can play a lot worse games for that price. The few issues this game have can be taken care off and they won’t hinder your playthrough too much. Is Blood one of the best retro game shooters? Easy answer, yes. Yes, it is. It’s as good as the original Doom, Heretic, Hexen, Duke Nukem and if you enjoy retro games and especially shooters it should be a crime to not at least give this game a try.

And with that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. I want to thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article and until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Score: 95 / 100

Game Music – My favorites #16: A Special One

video game illustration.jpegMore gaming music articles!

It’s time to talk about some more amazing tracks from games. Normally, I have a rule that I have to use the original music from the game. But in this article, I will also talk about some tracks that are related to games but aren’t in any game. So far example, a song with various quotes from a game. In any case, the rule that one track per game still applies. So, I hope you enjoy these tracks. And as per usual, feel free to write a comment with your opinion on the tracks, games and/or your opinion on the content of this article! 

(Hardstyle) Markove – Reawaken (Quotes from Bioshock Infinite)

162247_frontBioshock Infinite review

So, around the one-minute mark of this hardstyle track… You are greeted with a quote from Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite. When I heard that quote, the memories of this game came flooding back to me.

Hardstyle is one of my favorite genres. I love melodic hardstyle. And honestly, when it’s combined with quotes or references from one of my favorite game series, then it’s even better.

When you like hardstyle or music with a lot of bass; you owe it yourself to check this track out!

(Trance) SkyMarshall Arts – Monkey Island (Quotes from the Monkey Island series)

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Review of Escape from Monkey Island

First Impression of Tales From Monkey Island

SkyMarshall Arts is a DJ that makes a lot of different game-inspired music. He made songs about various games like Portal, DooM, Resident Evil and Monkey Island.

This song appeared on his “Nintendo Generation” album. On his own website, he explains the history of the album.

The song is really catchy and is quite fun to listen too. As a Monkey Island fan, it’s one of my favorite songs.

It’s a nice compilation of some great quotes from the games and the actual theme song.  Honestly, I have the impression that this could be used right at the end of a game in the series; when the credits are rolling.

(Original) Undertale – Hopes and Dreams

 header.jpgSo, I wanted to talk about Undertale for so long… So, here I go. The reason I’m not writing a review or a first impression for this game is because this game has been covered well enough.

Also, I haven’t finished the game yet. I know, shocking. But hey, it’s on my “to finish” list.

Undertale doesn’t need an introduction. It’s a very well known game. Maybe in the future, I’ll write an article about it. But for now, we have this amazing track from the game to listen to. Seriously, this track is very lively and one of my favorites in the game.

(Original) Rise Of The Tomb Raider – The Observatory

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So, recently I have finished this game called “Rise Of The Tomb Raider” on PC. I wanted to finish this game sooner but there were just so many good games coming out in early 2016.

This game was an amazing sequel to the original Tomb Raider reboot from 2013. I’m very happy that this game finally came to PC since I had a blast playing this game.

I’m going to try and not talk too much about this game since I’m planning to write a review about this game.

But seriously, I played this game with some amazing headphones and that made the music even stronger. The atmosphere that this track brings while exploring tombs and various other locations is just amazing.

During this track, I stopped exploring and just moved the camera slowly around Lara. The visuals and the world design is pretty well done in this game and is a sight to behold. Thank you, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix for this amazing adventure and the amazing music that came with it!

(Techno) Basshunter – DotA (Song about playing DotA)

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Okay, time for a disclaimer. I haven’t played DotA, nor am I playing to play DotA. But why do I bring up this song?

Well, because this track from Basshunter introduced me to electronic music which is has been my favorite genre since.

This song made my 13-year-old mind interested in electronic music and got has its hooks in my since. So, yeah this song has some strong childhood memories for me. Now, I wonder… Which game(-related) track has some strong childhood memories for you while you have never played the game it’s about? Feel free to tell me in the comments.

Wrapping up

It’s time to wrap up this article. Something became quite clear to me. When I want to talk about a game without writing a separate article about it, I write about it in this series.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this one. I’m quite curious to see which tracks you guys & girls like.

Have a great rest of your day and I hope to be able to welcome you in another article. But until then, game on!

Gamer’s Thoughts – Game Nostalgia: The good old 3D-shooters

HereticWhen I was younger, I found a website that allowed me to play demo versions of popular old DOS-games. From that website I got introduced to games like Heretic, Doom, Duke Nukem, and various other games. Somehow, Wolfenstein 3D was my favorite. I used to play the first few levels over and over again. Then I discovered Heretic, I fell even more in love with that game than Wolfenstein, since it started to speak to me on a personal level. I was always interested in a realistic-ish world with some (or a lot of) fantasy elements. Anyways, I’m rambling on, let’s talk about some old 3D shooter games and let’s get extremely nostalgic. I hope you guys and girls enjoy this read. And as always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the games I covered and/or the content of this article.  

Wolfenstein 3D

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So, most of the times DooM is considered to be the first “real” 3D shooter. Which isn’t true. Wolfenstein came earlier.

I actually finished this game on the GBA. The only two negatives off that version are a lack of a map and no music. For the rest, it’s a really nice port of the game to play on the go.

I recently started to play it on PC, thanks to Steam. And with the music, I’m not really enjoying it that much honestly. The lack of music actually added to the creepy atmosphere. You are trying to escape a nazi prison.

On the other hand, I could see where people are coming from. A soundtrack like that could motivate you to finish the game and try to escape successfully.  It’s all up to your own preference.

The expansion pack/sequel were amazing as well. While I haven’t beaten those games, I’m really excited to see what it throws next at me.

Heretic

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One of my most favorite shooters from the ’90. As I explained in my introduction, this game is one that I adore.

I’m not really sure what the story is behind this game, but to be frankly honest, I don’t really care. The concept is just extremely fun. While I adore stories in my games, to the extent that I sometimes don’t play games that lack a story, this game is a big exception.

I used to play the demo over and over again. Once I got caught in school since I slipped in a computer lab just to play this game and show it to some friends. Man, the teachers were pissed at me. Yet, it gave me great memories.

It was one of those games that my parents didn’t want to see me play, since I discovered it when I was around 10 years old. Shooters aren’t meant for those ages. So, yeah.

It’s also the game that introduced me to the interesting world of cheating. I was stuck in a level, and I looked up online what I should do next. When I read a walkthrough, I mostly read the part where I’m at, and I read a part of the solution. That way I still feel I have beaten the game on my own.

But at the bottom of the walkthrough, there was a section called “cheats”. My young mind couldn’t resist after reading it and trying it out in game. Now-a-days, I rarely cheat. Only when I have beaten a game to mess around with it.

Duke Nukem 3D

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I heard rumors on the play ground about this game. We are in the late ’90 where computers barely got into the educational system. The rumor was that a kid saw a teacher play some Duke Nukem.

As a kid, I was into Pokémon. When they explained and tried to convince me that it was a shooter and it was really cool, I actually didn’t really care.

It was only later that I realized what I missed out on. An amazing shooter with, now outdated, one liners that still get a smile on my face. My favorite is one of the most famous ones. Finish the quote when you know how it ends.

“I’m here to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and…” I’m all out of gum.

Yet, the truth is that I haven’t finished any Duke game to date. I have played a lot of them, but I play it at those times when I’m waiting between two big releases. Never a great idea, is it not?

Conclusion

Alright, I might have picked out three of the more popular old-school 3D shooters. Yet, those are the ones I grew up with.

Old-school 3D schooters have such an amazing charm to them. With hidden passages and secrets, they are something different. Rarely, I see games copy the formula today. A game where not every wall is solid and where you get a score card if you killed all the enemies in a certain stage, if you found all the secrets and things like that.

I have played more 3D shooters than the three I talked about. It’s just that those three are the ones I have the most fond memories off. Maybe one day I might write a follow-up article to this one where I talk about some different old school 3D shooters.

The thing is, I would love to review these games, yet I feel that I’m not the right person for that. I focus more on adventure, puzzle and story driven games. And I haven’t seen a lot of story driven shooters. I do know they exist, but I haven’t played them.

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this article right here. I hope you enjoyed reading it and my apologies for not writing an article for two weeks. Thankfully a buddy of mine actually wrote some articles in my place to give you guys something to read. Thanks man, they were nice reads.

Before I ramble on, it might be possible that in the future you will see an article of one of these games where I take a more in-depth look in to these games. So stay tuned. ~