When it comes to classic shooters, it's hard to beat the Build engine. I've covered two Build games so far in this series, and I'm sure I'll cover many more in the future. However, if you were to ask me what my all time favorite Build shooter is, I wouldn't even have to think for a second. Blood is, and probably always will be, my favorite Build engine shooter of all time.
The story may be simple, but it's surprisingly a lot more in depth than the classic 'kill everything' plot most FPS games have. Caleb was one of the four Chosen of the dark cult known as the Cabal, pledged to serve the dark god Tchernabog. However, Tchernabog betrayed and killed one of his Chosen, until one day Caleb was able to ressurect from his grave and begin his killing spree. Simple, effective, and more than just an excuse for Caleb to mercilessly kill everything in his path.
While Duke Nukem leaned heavily on references to action movies and Shadow Warrior was sort of all around, Blood relies on pure horror from start to finish. You can find a reference to The Raven in the first minute of the game, and you even spend two levels in iconic horror settings! Of course, this isn't counting the many quotes spewed off by Caleb, who is wonderfully voiced by Stephan Weyte.
Levels are some of the most varied and fun you'll see in a First Person Shooter. One minute you'll be shooting through a train and the next you'll be in a twisted carnival, a hedge maze, or Camp Crystal Lake itself. The amount of work that went into making every level not just well designed, but extremely memorable was absolutely insane, and I applaud the developers for doing so.
The aforementioned carnival is probably the best example. Sure, you could mow down every enemy in sight and race to the exit, but you can also try your hand at some of the carnival games too! The fact that they made nearly every game actually playable not only proves that they put buckets of love into the game, but that they wanted to make sure the players could have as much fun playing each map as they did making them.
The weapons are all very creative and interesting as well. How many shooters give you a flare gun instead of a pistol? A voodoo doll as an ultimate weapon? A pitchfork for a melee attack? Each of these weapons have their own use in different situations, and they all look and sound amazing. Plus, with powerups you can dual wield weapons like the tommy gun, sawed-off shotgun, or flare gun.
Enemies fit the theme very well, from zombies to cultists to hellhounds, every enemy is a nice little staple of horror fiction. Music is also very slow and almost haunting, a far cry from the more fast paced music of Duke Nukem 3D. This combines with the sound design to make enemies screaming in pain seem like it's straight out of an actual horror flick.
So is Blood any good? Absolutely. Blood sucked me in from the moment I picked it up years ago, and I still find myself thinking of it. While it may not have garnered as much attention as Doom, Quake, or Duke Nukem 3D, I believe Blood can comftorably sit among them as one of the great classic shooters.
With Shadow Warrior's reboot going over well, I can only hope we can see more of Caleb in the future. After all, nobody can disagree the market needs a lot more fun shooters out there. Only one can hope that someday, Blood will live again.