Review: “ZBlood” (WAD For “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ “GZ Doom”)

2015 Artwork ZBlood review sketch

Out of the many classic games made using 3D Realms’ “Build” engine, one of my favourites is a game called “Blood“. Surprisingly, I’d never actually played this game in full until earlier this year.

Although I played the “Blood” shareware last year, the thing that finally persuaded me to buy a copy of the full version of “Blood” on GoG was a “Doom” WAD called “ZBlood“.

It’s a fan-made attempt at making a partial version of “Blood” that will run on the “Doom” engine (my favourite FPS game engine of all time).

I should probably point out that I played this WAD using the “GZ Doom” source port. Although, from the title, it’s pretty clear that it will probably work with “ZDoom” too. Also, at the time of writing this review, I’m about halfway through this WAD – so it will only reflect my impressions of the game so far.

That said, let’s take a quick look at “ZBlood”.

Screenshot_Doom_20150206_062312

So, is “ZBlood” a good adaptation of “Blood”?

My answer would probably have to be “sort of”. This WAD contains a mixture of random levels from the original “Blood” and most of these levels are re-created fairly accurately. Seriously, I cannot fault the levels in this WAD.

But, although it gets this right – there are several things that it doesn’t quite get right. Some of these things might be due to the limitations of the “Doom” engine, but they are worth mentioning nonetheless.

One of the first things is that, some of the times when I played this WAD, some of the “Blood” enemies were tiny. This may just be an error with the source port, but the cultists and the zombies were often about half the height that they should be.

Ha! It's like that scene from "Army Of Darkness"!

Ha! It’s like that scene from “Army Of Darkness”!

Apart from this, a couple of the enemies seem relatively accurate to their original versions. And, yes, there is nothing more amusing than battling hordes of robed cultists who are shouting high-pitched phrases at you in their arcane language.

Crudox Cruo!

Crudox Cruo!

But, because “ZBlood” is based on the “Doom” engine, there have had to be some changes. In other words, many of the enemies behave differently to how you would expect – for example, the cerberus bosses now act like the mancubi from “Doom II” and the bosses from the “Plasma Pak” now act like the arch viles from “Doom II”.

If you’ve been playing a lot of “Blood” recently, these changes can be quite disconcerting. But, even so, you’ll probably get used to them fairly quickly.

Another dramatic change in “ZBlood” is with the weapons. Although the game features some of the “Blood” weapons (the napalm launcher, voodoo doll and tesla cannon are missing though), they behave in subtly different ways than you would expect.

Although the flare gun is still the gun that we all know and love, it’s extremely powerful secondary fire only takes up two units of ammunition per shot (eg: about a quarter of what it takes in the original game) – but, given the extreme difficulty of “Build engine” games, I like to think of this highly unbalanced weapon as a way of levelling the playing field slightly.

Feuer Frei!

Feuer Frei!

However, there were a few problems that I noticed with the weapons in “ZBlood”. For starters, the tommygun doesn’t have it’s “spray and pray” secondary fire and both the shotgun and aerosol can can’t always be selected properly.

Literally, the only way that I was sometimes able to get the game to let me use the aerosol can was to use up all of the tommygun’s ammunition – causing the game to automatically cycle to the aerosol can.

It should be obvious, but don't try this at home!

It should be obvious, but don’t try this at home!

Trying to select the shotgun was almost impossible though – literally, I had it when I first picked it up and it also appeared at random a couple of times. But, if you hit the “3” button, then nothing really happens. So, yes, you can’t really use one of the main weapons in the game – although this could be due to the source port that I’m using or something like that.

Likewise, the dynamite also lacks both it’s secondary fire and the ability to decide how far you want to throw it. If you’ve played the original “Blood”, then you’ll know how important these two things are – so, it was kind of a shame to see that this was missing from “ZBlood”.

On the plus side, “Zblood” introduces a new weapon – Caleb can now wield a revolver. This behaves pretty much like the basic pistol from “Doom”, but it sounds and looks a lot cooler:

Yes, Caleb actually has a new gun in "Zblood". WHY wasn't this in the original "Blood"?

Yes, Caleb actually has a new gun in “Zblood”. WHY wasn’t this in the original “Blood”?

The only other thing that “ZBlood” seems to be lacking is most of Caleb’s dialogue. Yes, he says the occasional one-liner, but there aren’t quite as many as there are in “Blood”. Still, the fact that they managed to include any of them in a “Doom”-engine game is quite impressive.

On the plus side, because “ZBlood” can be played using modern source ports for “Doom”, it means that you can use far more responsive modern controls that you can in the original “Blood”. Because it uses modern source ports, “ZBlood” also has slightly better graphics (eg: ambient lighting etc…) than the original “Blood” does. Seriously why hasn’t Monolith released the source code for “Blood”?

All in all, this is a rather fun attempt at re-creating “Blood” using an older game engine. Yes, it’s an imperfect adaptation in many ways, but it’s something that both “Doom” fans and “Blood” fans will probably enjoy nonetheless. It certainly isn’t as good as the real thing, but it’s still fun nonetheless.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get three and a half.

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