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Blood

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Released: 1997

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: PC - DOS

Publisher: GT Interactive

Developer: Monolith Productions

Submitted by: Duncan Rule

Monolith's Blood was one of the later games to use Ken Silverman's Build engine (of Duke Nukem 3D fame), but is generally overlooked, sat in the shadow of 3D Realms' buzz-cut hero. Despite using aging (and some would say already obsolete) technology at the dawn of the Quake era, it has nevertheless remained a cult favourite.

Blood puts you in the boots of Caleb, one of the four "chosen"; an elite group of fighters who lived to serve the dark god Tchernobog. After being betrayed and slaughtered by his master, Caleb returns from the grave to seek his revenge. And he's pissed. It all sounds like pretty cliché FPS fodder, but Blood's unusual setting (some time in the 1920s) and gothic-horror atmosphere really set it apart from the doldrums of late 90s shooters.

The game isn't called Blood for nothing, and really stands out as one of the nastiest, goriest FPS games ever seen. It deviates from the usual arsenal of "pea-shooter, shotgun, machine gun, rocket launcher, over-powered instrument-of-death", and instead opts for a somewhat more varied selection of truly sick weaponry. Set cultists on fire, screaming in pain with the flare gun, stab a zombie in the face with the pitchfork, raise hell from afar with the voodoo doll; this game lets you do it all and more. Caleb is the quintessential anti-hero, and even though it's you against thousands, you'll often feel like the bad guy, cackling and taunting enemies as they explode into piles of bloodied remains.

The level design here is truly inspired. There are stages ranging from a moving steam train, through to a macabre carnival, a boat locked in ice, and a recreation of The Shining's Overlook Hotel, complete with a rather frosty Jack Nicholson in the hedge maze. One thing's for sure, if you like your horror films, you'll get a kick out of the numerous references hidden throughout Blood.

Who cares if it's "2.5D"? Blood is one of the greatest FPS games of all time, and deserves the attention of all fans of the genre.