Blood II: The Chosen

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Blood II The Chosen Screamshot
Blood II: The Chosen

Developer: Monolith Productions

Publisher: GT Interactive

Designer: James Wilson III

Engine: LithTech (1.0)

Version: 2.1

Released: October 31, 1998

Genre: First Person Shooter

Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer

Platforms: Windows


ISBN-10: N/A

Media: CD-ROM(1)

Blood II: The Chosen as rated by the ESRB


[edit] Overview

Blood II: The Chosen is the sequel to Blood, released on the PC platform. Like its predecessor, it is a first person shooter developed by Monolith Productions and distributed by GT Interactive. It was released on October 31, 1998 (Halloween) and featured the new fully 3-D Monolith engine - LithTech - which was previously used in Shogo: Mobile Armour Division.

Blood II was released as a single CD-ROM. An expansion pack, The Nightmare Levels was released the next year which contained a new episode consisting of six levels, some new multiplayer options and bug fixes.

The game takes place in the year 2028, a hundred years after the events in the first game. Many of the fantastical and mystical elements of the first game have given way to a more realistic dystopian environment. The Cabal has gone from a mystical cult to a world-wide corporation. Many of the weapons reflect their Blood counterparts, but have been reinterpreted in more scientific and technological ways. The locations, instead of being largely temples and mountains, have changed to run-down factories, office buildings and gritty urban environments, with only a few more mystical levels. The music has even changed to reflect this new style, having a dark techno-industrial feel only slightly laced with the occult. However, the game's signature graphic violence and gore haven't changed, as well as its dark sense of humour.

Unlike Blood, Monolith made Blood II partially free software (the LithTech engine code), which encouraged mods and conversions by the Blood community. The program even had a user interface for loading mod files, called "rezzes" for the extension ".REZ". However, the stylistic change and the rushed release of the game led to most mods being bug fixes and adding features which they either were promised or thought should have been in in the final product.

[edit] Technical Specs

A Blood II logo
A Blood II logo
Minimum CPU Required: Pentium
Minimum OS Required: Windows 95
Minimum RAM Required: 32 MB
Minimum CD-ROM Drive Speed Required: 4X
Minimum DirectX Version Required: DirectX 6
Input Devices Supported: Keyboard, Mouse, other DirectInput device
Multiplayer Options: Internet (TCP/IP)

[edit] Game Play

Drudge Priest on a train
Drudge Priest on a train

Blood II is a first person shooter, meaning it is played through the eyes of the protagonist. Basic game play deviates very little from its predecessor or from contemporary games. The player must navigate through areas to reach the end, while battling enemies. There are fewer keys, but many doors need to be "activated" to be unlocked. Areas are vast, like water canals and medical facilities, but hardly bear resemblance to a real place.

Blood II has many more weapons and each has an alternate fire mode. However, the player can only hold nine of these weapons (ten including the knife, which is undroppable), so an element of strategy and ammo management comes into play. In addition, some weapons can be carried two-handed. Otherwise, there is very little puzzle-solving or complex navigation. The game is fairly linear, with the player needing to get from "Point A to Point B", where the challenge is staying alive. There are no secrets or secret levels, and no way to deviate from the intended path (there are powerups and areas hidden in the levels). Through the use of cheat codes you can sometimes skip levels, for example you can go from C1L2: Pickman St. Station to C1L11: The Cathedral by no-clipping to the path you use later in the game.

[edit] Single-player

Single-player starts by first choosing a difficulty, then a character. The player can play as any of the four Chosen (Caleb, Ophelia, Gabriella, Ishmael) who each have strengths and weaknesses. However, only as Caleb can the player experience the storyline. If the player chooses one of the other Chosen, cutscenes will be skipped.

The game is divided into chapters instead of episodes, each of which is accessible only if the previous one is completed. Cheat codes can allow the player to access different levels, but through normal game play, the levels must be accessed one after the other.


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[edit] Expansion Packs

  • The Nightmare Levels - This expansion pack contained the most recent patch as well as a new mini-episode which tells the story of what happened to the Chosen after the events in Blood II and adds a lot of character back story. It contained a few new enemies, weapons and all new levels.

[edit] Mods

Blood II: Resurrection
Blood II: Resurrection

Main Article: List of Mods

Due to the hasty release of Blood II, many features and aspects which were promised in promotional copy were not included. This disappointed fans, but the released source code and easy modification user interface made mods popular. However, many of these mods did not build on the existing game, but instead, fixed things that fans believed should have been included, such as The Festival of Blood and Blood II: Resurrection. Many mod projects never made it to completion.

[edit] Development

Blood II Development Screamshot
Blood II Development Screamshot

The development of Blood II was remarkable because of the community involvement by Jason Hall, the Monolith CEO. He was often present on the Blood II forums, asking questions and getting feedback based on released screenshots and sound files. One watershed event was when he polled the forum uses as to whether they would like game play with one character (Caleb) and more story, or the ability to play through as all the Chosen with less story. The former was selected, although the ability to play as the Chosen was still made available, albeit with no canonical grounds. There was some swapping between the Blood II team and the team working on Shogo: Mobile Armour Division, such as trees and toilet models for example, thus "team Shogo" is listed in the Blood II credits.

However, with popular games like Half-Life, Unreal (also a GT title), SiN, and Thief about to be released, which boasted cleaner visuals, better AI and more multiplayer options, the publishers of Blood II saw a need to quickly release the already delayed game. GT was in the midst of being bought out by Infogrames (later Atari, Inc), and due to the relatively small fan base, they pushed the game out the door before it could be fine-tuned. The credits for Blood II: The Chosen can be found: here. The music was composed by Daniel Bernstein and Guy Whitmore and it alongside Shogo premiered the concept of adaptive music. The term meaning music that adapts to circumstance and location. Work on the game was also done by Craig Hubbard who is now one of the head designers at Monolith.

Jeremy "Loki" Blackman attempted to bring the game, alongside Shogo and LithTech in general, to other platforms. This was orignally only going to be for GNU/Linux but possibly eventually even Solaris and other Unix-like systems. In the end however his work was never completed, though it was later recycled in the Hyperion Entertainment ports of Shogo to various other platforms.

[edit] Release and Critical Reception

Blood II at E3 1998
Blood II at E3 1998
Blood II Russian box art
Blood II Russian box art

The early release of Blood II meant many features and options were cut or badly implemented. Many critics felt it lacked the punch of the original game, while others called it simply mediocre, and that it offered nothing new or extraordinary. Blood II received a metascore of 74 out of 100 from MobyGames. It's highest rating (100) was given by GameGenie, while its lowest (40) came from GamePro magazine.

Many fans were disappointed with the game. The game held a vastly different style than the first, and many promised features were removed because of time. Plus the game shipped with many bugs (many of which were fixed in an online-released patch). Levels would load immediately, preventing players from reading all of the interstitial text - key to the plot and added atmosphere. Weaker enemies would be gibbed by small weapons like pistols. An explosion would cause an enemy's torso to disappear and leave its limbs hanging and spinning in the air, or become embedded in a wall. Artificial intelligence was less than stellar, with enemies walking into walls, or losing the player across path lines. The promised storyline only included Caleb's perspective and left many players confused and without answers. The game's final boss, the Ancient One, isn't even referred to by name until the loading screen of C4L1: Beyond the Rift. Some fans liked the game, but felt that it was rushed, lacked polish, and could have used more finishing touches.

There were some Bloodites who did praise the game however, notably Tom Bramwell and several people on the Planet Blood mailbag. The most notable praise came from a common source of criticism, the LithTech engine, which allowed for more advanced graphics, sound, and special effects. The Nightmare Levels expansion pack was also thought to alleviate some of the perceived problems of Blood II, such as the addition of the Robed Cultists (who, if not for the rushed release, would have been in The Chosen) and Blood inspired levels such as dark carnivals and snowy hedge mazes. Several of the the unanswered questions in Blood II: The Chosen were left to add anticipation for the next game in the series, which was never released. Indeed many Blood fans were willing to accept Blood II if a hard worked sequel would soon arrive. As time goes by many reviews of Blood II have surfaced in a more positive light. The game is also being looked back at fondly as a product of a unique era in gaming history, a development style that has now come and gone.

The music and soundtrack were generally well received. The huge amounts of weapons offered in Blood II has been both praised and criticized, with the player having to choose what weapons they will or won't have getting the most negative attention (some also note that many of the available weapons don't really add to the gameplay). The amount of storyline available in Blood II has been praised, however it has also been criticized for its lack of strong implementation in the game itself, leading some to think that there wasn't a real storyline. People's perceptions of the game's graphics, and of the abilities of LithTech in general have varied, with some thinking it to be simple engine or those who think it to have been on the forefront of 1998 gaming. The continuation of the dark humour of the first game was enjoyed by many but some felt it was underdone due to the more realistic aura of Blood II. The continuation of Caleb's typical character traits also drew people to the game, and his and other character's voice acting has been generally praised. Blood II has also been complimented for sticking to more traditional first person shooter styles, rather than blindly experimenting.

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[edit] External Links

[edit] Reviews

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