Blood: Fresh Supply | Review

A luxurious port of a cult-classic title. Once you get a taste for Blood, you’ll struggle to cure your addiction.

Why do old-school games get re-released? The answer is because they’re mint, but they could always be mintier. The cult-classic shooter Blood is no exception (you can see why in much more detail in our full review). Recently, the clever-clogs at Nightdive Studios released a pimped-up version of the ultra-gorey title with all sorts of great features packed in alongside.

The plot of Blood is none too complex. The bloodthirsty cowboy Caleb, formerly a high-ranking member of an evil cult known as The Cabal, has been bumped off without reason by their unholy deity. Soon enough, he rises from his grave and ventures onward for revenge. The add-ons, Plasma Pak and Cryptic Passage, are packed in alongside. While the story for both of these aren’t that important, you certainly can’t fault extra levels.

It’s called Blood for a reason.

The core aspects of Blood remain the same as before: brilliantly-designed maps riddled with traps; ludicrous amounts of gore; pop culture and black humor, and so on. You’ll need to find keys in order to progress through each chapter, all of which conclude with a boss stage, respectively. Some of the stand-out levels are set in a carnival under siege, a shipwrecked boat trapped in ice, and even a mall filled with the undead. While the Plasma Pak features new enemies, the level design in Cryptic Passage is vastly superior in comparison due to their size and attention to detail.

Zombies, gargoyles and fanatical cult members are some of the scumbags you’ll be sprawling with. These dudes are very dangerous and will dish out ludicrous amounts of damage. A word of warning: you’re going to die a lot, so don’t crank up the difficulty too high or you’ll be up against far too many foes that won’t go down easily. Good thing you’ve got oodles of weapons to get your hands bloody with. Tesla cannons, shotguns, voodoo dolls and TNT bombs are but some of the fun toys you’ll get your hands on. Power-ups will give you the edge, some of which can be carried in your inventory to be used when you want. Caleb will drop sadistic quips and laugh like a maniac when you rack up the kills. Kudos to Stephan Weyte for an unforgettable voice performance.

Now you can make those pesky Cabal less irritating to fight by tweaking their stats.

The golden question here is: what’s different compared to before? Well, thanks to some important tweaks to the game’s engine, now you can fiddle with the visuals, aspect ratio and framerate to make Blood more awesome than ever. The option to switch between the MIDI and the much eerier CD soundtrack is there, though there are times when the music will refuse to play at all. You can play on keyboard and controller, both of which feel smooth and responsive. There’s mod support, alongside a new mode called ‘Made to Order’. Now anyone can tweak the enemy count, health, accuracy and such before you start a chapter. This is a really awesome inclusion, as it’s flexible enough to allow players to cater to their preferred skill level.

Retro shooter fanboys will get the most kick out of the now-functioning multiplayer mode. Now that the netcode has been completely rewritten, you can play with up to eight players online in co-operative mode, “BloodBath” (deathmatch) and Capture the Flag. Battling it out with other people online is chaotic and addicting; you can even play split-screen mode for up to four players as well! The countless maps and customization features on offer are very nice inclusions, though joining a new game is a bit of a faff considering it won’t tell you what mode or map you’re entering, exactly. There are a few bugs like unexpected crashes and people entering servers with scores higher and lower than zero, though issues like these will likely get patched soon enough. Otherwise, it runs smoothly, so there’s no need to leap through so many hurdles just to play with people over the internet.

BloodBath is a little buggy in this port. Still, it’s one of the finest multiplayer experiences from the ’90s.

A re-release for Blood was long overdue due to some irritating legal faff, but what we have here in Blood: Fresh Supply is undoubtedly the best (official) way to play. Its numerous bells and whistles (customizable visuals, a functioning multiplayer mode, expansion packs and mod support, etc.) make it an irresistible choice for fans of old-school FPS’s, while additional luxuries like a weapon wheel, split-screen mode and achievement support are like candles on top of a birthday cake. Aside from the occasional glitches you may encounter online, there’s little reason to fault such a luxurious port of a cult-classic title. Once you get a taste for Blood, you’ll struggle to cure your addiction.

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