Blood 2: Nightmare Levels
Game Review - by Jeremiah Pratt
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.
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.
© 1996- Danworld, Inc.