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

UPC/A7: N/A

ISBN-10: N/A

Media: CD-ROM(1)

Blood II: The Chosen as rated by the ESRB

"In a time of turmoil and decay, a dark organization with a dark purpose casts its shadow over the world. As their cause begins to reach fruition, an even greater evil pushes its twisted being at the bindings of reality. But across a century of pain, through an army built on hate and fear, and over the bodies of those he loved, Death has never died. In 1998, Caleb returns. And this time he's not alone."
--Blood II: The Chosen Website

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.

Contents

[edit] Details

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 released some of the source code for Blood II (and the LithTech engine) under a restrictive license, which did nonetheless encourage 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
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

Ophelia fighting Caleb in BloodBath

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

A Drudge Priest on a train in Blood II 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.

[edit] Multiplayer

Multiplayer returns in Blood II, again called BloodBath, but only features the Deathmatch mode (as in most other contemporaries). The goal of this mode is to kill the other players before the player himself is killed. Game play takes place on an specially designed level with power-up and weapon caches and strategic areas, or a single-player level. To end the level or match, a time limit or 'frag limit' had to be reached. New Internet technologies allowed easier ways to find multiplayer servers, but due to the relatively small number of players, few people were available to compete with.

Players have the ability to customize their character, choosing one of the pre-loaded models of the Chosen, or customizing a player.

[edit] Story

Cabalco Center for Disease Management

In 2028, a hundred years after the events in Blood, the world has changed. The Cabal has been transformed from a cult to a corporation. It has succeeded in seizing control of the world through economic and political power, rather than overt bloodshed. The person responsible for this is Gideon, the leader of the Cabal. He has taken the cult into the 21st century, but still yearns to destroy Caleb, now known as the Great Betrayer. Only by doing this can he properly assume full leadership of the Cabal and become the next incarnation of Tchernobog.

What Caleb has done during these hundred years is relatively unknown. Unknown to him, he has inherited the power of Tchernobog, the power to bind the dimensions. The promotional material says that Caleb is seeking a way to resurrect the other Chosen, but the in-game story makes most of this moot, and does not reveal Caleb's current motivations, besides his hatred of Gideon and the Cabal. Gideon says that he has tooled around the world, doing relatively little with his time. At the start of the game, Caleb is taking a Cabal-owned train to an unknown destination. Gideon announces his presence on the train, and the Cabal attack Caleb.

[edit] Chapters

Caleb from the Introduction

The introduction cutscene depicts Caleb walking menacingly along some subway tracks while Gideon narrates.

We are the Cabal. I, Gideon, am its sinister genius leader. We have always lurked among you... like maggots in the bloated, stinking corpse of a diseased rat. Servants of The One That Binds, the dark god... Tchernobog. Until a century ago, everything was going according to our... evil plans. We never expected to be betrayed by one of our own. His name was Caleb. He destroyed our god and absorbed the power of Tchernobog. But what did he do with that power? Nothing. Just spent his time hanging out in dive bars, swilling cheap beer, smoking bad cigars, starting brawls over women of dubious moral character. Meanwhile, I dragged the Cabal into the 21st century. We've become a multi-billion dollar corporate empire with our claws in everything from adult entertainment products to daytime television. Yet all of this is nothing compared to the power I will wield when I suck the marrow from Caleb's diseased bones and absorb the essence of Tchernobog. I and I alone will restore our Dark God. I will destroy Caleb. I will mash his intestines beneath my feet like rotten grapes. And then I will throw a party to celebrate... an evil party for all my evil minions and you are not invited. And Caleb will die for the last time.
--Gideon, opening Blood II narration

Note: Blue text indicates dialogue cut from the final game.

[edit] Chapter One

After Caleb hears Gideon announcing himself, he fights his way to the front of the train. Finding no one in the conductor's booth, the train collides with another, knocking Caleb unconscious. He awakens at an urban area in New Town, and chases Gideon through the streets, occasionally meeting up with him but never getting close to battle. They eventually confront each other in the Lafayette Museum of Antiquities, where Gideon, along with the Mad Scientist and a Prophet bodyguard are waiting.

The Prophet fires his weapon, a prototype Singularity Generator that creates an inter-dimensional vortex. However, instead of killing Caleb, Gabriella (formerly Gabriel - "it's a long story"), one of the Chosen, is pulled through. Gideon and his party retreats due to their failure to destroy Caleb. Gabriella asks to go along, but Caleb refuses. The portal reappears and takes Gabriella away before anything else can be said.

Caleb then continues his pursuit by entering some abandoned apartments, the sewers and the steam tunnels. During this time, vortexes are opening here and there, with otherworldly creatures and monsters pouring out and attacking. Unknown to Caleb, these creatures are entering from another reality (documented on the Blood Wiki as Reality Beta). Caleb must deal with this, in addition to the pounding of the Cabal's forces. In the steam tunnels, he accesses a cargo elevator to the Cabalco Center for Disease Management, a medical zone where Cabal is experimenting with these creatures.

Caleb takes the elevator up to the roof where a Cabalco airship, the CAS Revenant, is threatening to leave, apparently with Gideon. After defeating a Prophet guarding the ship, Caleb stows aboard and sets the self-destruct off. He safely parachutes into a construction zone in New Town, but hears that Gideon was not on the air ship when it exploded and is instead heading to an old cathedral to present a speech. Caleb traverses the rooftops and enters the cathedral, full of Reality Beta creatures.

In the basement, Caleb finds the great hall, when a giant vortex opens and deposits the Naga - the boss of chapter one. After Caleb defeats the creature, the back wall explodes, revealing Gabriella. She asks Caleb about the origin of the strange monsters, to which Caleb has no good answer. Gabriella then expresses her concern over Caleb's ability to handle the ever-worsening situation and Caleb tersely reiterates his determination to her.

[edit] Chapter Two

Caleb boards another CabalCo subway train to the industrial sector. Again Caleb fights his way to the front where the train again collides with another. He climbs out of the wreckage, and travels through a subway station that leads to a degraded apartment complex. At the roof, Caleb finds Gideon, the Mad Scientist, and the Prophet again. Once again they try and use the Singularity Generator (which the Mad Scientist claims to have now fixed), but again, the vortex summons one of the Chosen.

This time it is Ishmael, and in the confusion, Gideon escapes aboard a helicopter. Ishmael warns him of the damage he is doing by not using the power of "The One that Binds" to seal the rifts bringing in the monsters. Caleb refuses to act, and Ishmael closes by saying that Ophelia is here as well, the first to come through. Before he can say anything more informative, the portal reappears and takes him.

Caleb exits the building and moves underground to the Sewage Treatment Plant. Many of the Beta Reality creatures inhabit this place, and once he emerges, he enters a Cabalco Meat Packing Plant. He blasts through to another part of New Town, and finds access to Horlock's station through the wall of a diner (which Caleb explodes). The Blue Line terminal, the path he needs, is locked, so he takes a detour to Love Canal, a Cabalco owned dam.

He floods the dam and then takes the train around to the other side of Horlock's station (which for once, does not crash), where he can access the Blue Line. The under-construction tunnel takes him to the crypts where he finds a Behemoth, the boss of chapter two. After killing the creature, Ishmael appears again. He tells Caleb that there is a permanent rift in Gideon's temple, and that Ophelia is being held captive there. Again, Ishmael tells him that he must use his powers to seal the rifts or this reality will perish.

[edit] Chapter Three

With the knowledge that Gideon has Ophelia, as well as a permanent rift, Caleb heads towards CabalCo headquarters. However, the path lies across a Cabalco-controlled bridge, who has it up. He moves around the back streets and through the underground to hit the switch and gain access to the security checkpoint.

As he moves through the complex, Cabalco finds itself besieged with the otherworldly invaders and a triple-sided war begins. Caleb finds his way into Gideon's temple where Ophelia is tied to a pillar. After some warm greetings, Gideon interrupts them and squirrels Ophelia away through a portal. Enraged, Caleb leaves the temple and heads through the office building, first disabling the power station underneath.

On the upper floors, Caleb wages war in the offices which lead to the Cabal's main research facility: Research and Development, where the Mad Scientist waits for Caleb's impending "dissection". Caleb turns out to be the only one who gets the tear lifeforms apart as he destroys the complex and staff before encountering the Mad Scientist and snatching the Singularity Generator.

He returns to the office proper and uses his new weapon to destroy the oncoming onslaught. He finds a secret passage way in a conference room and rides the lift to the rooftops, where Gideon is waiting. Caleb and the leader of the Cabal square off, until Gideon receives sufficient enough damage to warrant retreat. He escapes through a portal into Reality Beta. Ophelia (somehow having freed herself) appears and questions whether its wise to go through.

With unending stubbornness, Caleb heads into the rift.

[edit] Chapter Four

The portal deposits Caleb on a barren desert landscape near a Cabalco tent, surrounded by Fanatic corpses. While the otherworld creatures do battle with both Caleb and Cabalco alike, Caleb trudges on. He happens across an ancient temple where Gideon, gravely injured, is waiting. Words are exchanged until Gideon transforms into a giant undead spider creature. The final contest ensues, and Gideon finally dies. Caleb finds that he is in the ruins of an ancient citadel, populated with the same creatures that have been invading his world.

He happens across a large arena which he presumes leads to the mastermind behind the intrusion of our reality. He discovers three upright crypts, which open and reveal undead forms of Ophelia, Gabriella and Ishmael. They float above the arena and say, in an unearthly voice, that they are the Ancient One and are responsible for the invasion and demand Caleb to bow down to them. Caleb laughs it off as the Ancient One tries to intimidate him (stumbling through his lines).

Sick of the showboating, Caleb demands they fight. He then duels with the Undead Chosen, one after the other. On defeating the last, the floor opens up, and Caleb falls into a pool of a red liquid where the true form of the Ancient One rests, as a colossal squid-like creature. Caleb spouts one of his trademark one-liners and the fight begins.

[edit] Epilogue

The Chosen walk through the wastes

The Ancient One lets out one last scream before it sinks into the red liquid. The other three Chosen appear behind Caleb. Ishmael tells him that it's not over until he binds the realities and seals the rifts. Caleb protests but eventually submits and agrees. Caleb waves his arms around as focus power flows out.

The screen then changes to a text interstitial which displays the following:

"Does Caleb really close the rift? Does Ophelia get her two-minutes of gift? What the heck happened to Gabriel... er, Gabriella? What if Ishmael can't get home? And, where did he get those tattoos? Tune in next time on: As 'It burns, it burns'. Enjoy these answers and more soon... we promise. In the meantime, get into some major BLOODBATH!!"
--Blood II

The screen then changes to the four Chosen, together at last, walking together through the wastes as the game's credits display.

[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, often humourous, character back story. It contained a few new enemies, weapons and all new levels.
  • Revelations - This was a planned expansion pack which was under development by a Britsh developer called Tequila Software. Set after the events of Blood II, it was to feature Caleb facing a break-away sect of the Cabal called Krest led by a man named Cain. It was to feature numerous new enemies, weapons and more.

[edit] Mods

Blood II: Resurrection Modification

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, FX Enchancer, DarkAct, and Blood II: Resurrection. Many mod projects never made it to completion. Only one Blood II modification, Blood 2K5, added new single-player levels.

The most recent modification released for Blood II is Extra Crispy, which introduced various new tweaks that can affect everything from the effectiveness of certain weapons and characters to introducing new artificial intelligence routines for some of the enemies. It also provided the optional Extra Crispy Enhancer Pack, a new texture pack that contains sharpened map textures, new menu graphics, and expanded skins for all models as well as some new sound effects.

[edit] Development

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 users 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. The Shogo team was supposedly meant to join the development effort after their game's release, but this took longer then expected which expedited the rushed release of Blood II.

With popular games like Half-Life, Unreal (also a GT title), SiN and Thief about to be released, some of which boasting 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 fully fine-tuned - which led to several half-finished features and bugs. 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 premièred 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 originally 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

The early release of Blood II meant many features and options were cut or badly implemented, particularly when compared to the original game which spent three years in development with no end of polish. 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 (96) was given by GameGenie, while its lowest (40) came from GamePro magazine. It holds four out of five stars on Good Old Games, but with a polarized array of user reviews.

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, is not 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 - in short, that development should have been extended.

Blood II Russian box art

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 (and the switch in general between sprites and voxels to polygonal models and true-3D geometry), 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, particularly in regard to its status as a shooter perfect for fans of late 1990s games. 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 will not use not getting the most negative attention (some also note that many of the available weapons do not really add to the gameplay, while increasing confusion). 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 many to feel that it lacks 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, appealing to established demographics.

The fan website Blood Hispano recently released an article defending Blood II: The Chosen complimenting its atmosphere, soundtrack, variety and its reinvention of the Cabal into CabalCo and handling of the otherworld, while criticizing its artificial intelligence and level linearity.

[edit] See Also

[edit] External Links

[edit] Reviews


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