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Pentium 166, 32 Megs RAM, 4X CD-ROM
16-bit Sound Board, Mouse, & DirectX 6

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Sound FX



Blood 2: Nightmare Levels

Game Review - by Jeremiah Pratt
When you think of nightmares, what comes to mind? Do you envision college frat houses and circuses? Probably not, but then again you aren't a member of the Chosen--the thought of college girls and clowns scares the hell out of them. It seems that, while traveling home after their victory in Blood II, our heroes stop in the desert for an impromptu session of scary stories. Each team member (Caleb, Ophelia, Ishmael and Gabriella) takes a turn telling their scariest nightmare, and are magically sent to its real-life counterpart by a mysterious creature known as 'the Nightmare".

Monolith concedes that the 'story' is a mere backdrop for the fighting, which I've got no problem with--it's the lack of action I'm concerned about.

Compared to the 18 single player levels in Sin's expansion pack (Wages of Sin), here you only get 6. That's right, after mowing your way through each of the character's nightmares and one extra (maybe the developers thought a measly four levels was insulting--but five, well that's totally acceptable) you enter the final level. This map, by the way, is just a room full of respawning monsters followed by an anti-climatic confrontation with the Nightmare and an even drearier ending.

The only official Blood II: The Chosen add-on pack created by Monolith Productions, the demented minds behind the chronicles of Blood. With six new multiplayer mode allow you to play soccer with the heads of your decapitated foes in Zombie Head Soccer. Powerful weapons include the Flayer and the Combat Shotgun. Multiplayer includes the male and female Cultists, the Prophet, and the Soul Drudge.

The expansion pack for Blood 2, called The Nightmare Levels, is at its best when it seems to make half-hearted attempts to return to its Blood 1 roots. It's ultimately a nice try, but no cigar.

Like Blood 2 itself, The Nightmare Levels are underdone and cheap. Part of the problem is the limited Lithtech engine, but most of the problem is a lack of creative juice flowing through the level design. This is unfortunate, because The Nightmare Levels begins with a great premise.

The four characters from Blood 2 are sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories (Ishmael has a marshmallow on a stick while the rest of them roast weenies). Each character's story is re-enacted in a game level. Unfortunately, the potential for some twisted creativity is sadly wasted. Only Ishmael's level is moderately engaging. And they're all extremely short.

When it's all over, you've only played through six small and rather dull levels. This is barely enough for a single evening's diversion. The saddest thing is that it seems at times as if the designers are trying to recapture the feel of the first Blood. Caleb's first nightmare revisits Blood's winter hedge mazes, which were inspired by the final sequence in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

The first game's robed cultists make a limited appearance. Cackling out mangled Latin-esque phrases and shrieking as they die. The choking hands from Evil Dead 2, which were so annoying in Blood, are also back again. Ishmael's circus nightmare is reminiscent of Blood's carnival levels. And the "head soccer" multiplayer game is back, complete with the same stadium map that was in Blood.

One of the new monsters, the Gremlin, is modeled with an impish glee that reminded me of the first game. But overall, these nostalgic touches can't make up for how short and drab the levels are. For instance, Ophelia's nightmare takes place in a sorority house. But the engine just doesn't make a very convincing realistic environment. Instead, we get a blocky house with ugly wallpaper textures, huge chunky cubes of furniture, and an occasional "Go Beavers!" pennant. This hardly suggests a sorority.

And the game takes some embarrassing shortcuts, from the coarse creature animation (which is definitely a step backward from Blood 2's fluid animations) to civilians screaming "Please don't shoot me!" when a crowbar-wielding zombie attacks them. The new multiplayer models don't even have their faces reflected in the orb weapon.

As for new weapons, there's really only one. But it's a doozy. The Flayer opens little dimensional whorls, from which hooks attached to chains shoot out, ripping apart the victim. Something similar was done in Hexen II, but the effect here is every bit as gory as its inspiration in the movie Hellraiser. It's accompanied by a great snaking rattled chain sound effect. If Blood 2 were a better game, I'd say the Flayer alone would be worth the price of admission.

Somebody took a nap here. The Graphics don't even come close to using the power of the Lithtech engine. Even the new textures are bland and boring. I begin to wonder how did they allow the release of this game. I even found myself running through one of the boss's bodies. Now what the hell is going on here? It's safe to say the design of this game was rushed.

Sound FX:
Must we go on, I torture myself struggling to say something nice here? The 3D ambient sounds are ok. But since when do dead Cultists, scream Caleb. Last time I checked you can't talk when you dead. That and some other bugs in the Sound FX. Just adds to the conclusion of a rushed game.

The nightmare Levels is just plain Limp. Rushed Graphics, and Sound FX. Uninspiring Gameplay, and a short Single Campaign. Even the new fangled multiplayer levels are not enough to play this game.

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