Review: “Blood II: The Nightmare Levels” (Expansion Pack For “Blood II: The Chosen”)

2016 Artwork Blood II Nightmare levels review sketch

Well, although I’ve only played a few levels of “Blood II: The Chosen” (the sequel to “Blood) at the time of writing this review, I thought that I’d check out the “Nightmare Levels” expansion pack for this game first. There are several reasons for this that I’ll explain later.

I should probably point out that I bought this expansion pack as part of the “Blood 2: The Blood Group” bundle on GOG (which includes “Blood II” and this expansion) back in November when it was on special offer.

I don’t think you can even buy this expansion separately these days, which is probably a good thing. But, if you do somehow find a separate copy of this expansion then you will need the full version of “Blood II: The Chosen” to play it.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Blood II: The Nightmare Levels”:

Blood II Nightmare levels campfire

“Blood II: The Nightmare Levels” is a short six-level expansion pack for “Blood II: The Chosen” that also contains new weapons and enemies too.

The story behind the expansion is that, after the events of “Blood II: The Chosen”, the game’s four main characters (Caleb, Ophelia, Ishmael and Gabriella) are walking home through the desert.

One night, when sitting around the campfire, they start telling each other stories about the scariest moments in their lives – only for them to find themselves transported back to these times by a creature called “The Nightmare”.

Via a cool-looking green portal because, well, everything was cooler in the 1990s.

Via a cool-looking green portal because, well, everything was cooler in the 1990s.

Each one of the first four levels is bookended by these campfire scenes and they are absolutely hilarious. Although some of the voice-acting and dialogue is a little cheesy, it’s still fairly amusing.

However, like all cutscenes in this game, these scenes are unfortunately unskippable, so they can get a little tiring if you have to restart a level.

The main reason why I played this expansion first was because I’d heard that it was a lot more similar to the original “Blood” than “Blood II: The Chosen” is. In terms of classic settings, enemies and references – this expansion certainly doesn’t disappoint in this regard.

There are actual robed cultists who scream gibberish at you (rather than just boring ordinary people and generic sci-fi soldiers), there are hedge mazes, there’s a creepy circus and a spooky old mansion:

Yes! THIS is what "Blood II" SHOULD look like!

Yes! THIS is what “Blood II” SHOULD look like!

 It isn't a major spoiler, but you actually get to play as JoJo in this level!  This level also contains some of the original music from "Blood" too :)

It isn’t a major spoiler, but you actually get to play as JoJo in this level! This level also contains some of the original music from “Blood” too 🙂

And, of course, this expansion also has a brilliantly cynical sense of humour too.

And, of course, this expansion also has a brilliantly cynical sense of humour too.

One thing that I love about this expansion is the sheer variety of levels on offer. Yes, there are only six of them, but they each take place in a different and distinctive location – unlike the generic futuristic buildings, cities and train carriages that I’ve seen in what I’ve played of “Blood II: The Chosen”.

In fact, one level even takes place in Ophelia’s old sorority house – which actually looks a bit like something from the original “Blood”:

Yes, this actually looks a bit like something from the first "Blood" game.

Yes, this actually looks a bit like something from the first “Blood” game.

There's also a creepy mansion too. WHY wasn't this in the early parts "Blood II: The Chosen"? It's certainly more interesting than 'Generic futuristic building #2B'.

There’s also a creepy mansion too. WHY wasn’t this in the early parts of “Blood II: The Chosen”? It’s certainly more interesting than ‘Generic futuristic building #2B’.

However, in terms of gameplay, most of this expansion is ridiculously easy when compared to the original “Blood”. Seriously, I breezed through the whole thing in a just a few hours.

Yes, it’s probably more challenging than many modern FPS games are but it’s still significantly easier than the original “Blood” most of the time. There are a few exceptions to this though, such as the ridiculously (and almost unfairly) difficult final level.

But, when it comes to gameplay, “The Nightmare Levels” suffers from many of the glitches that “Blood II: The Chosen” is notorious for. In addition to this, it also crashes occasionally for no real reason whatsoever.

One glitch I found was that, sometimes, when your character’s health reaches zero – you won’t die. If you start a new level after finishing one on zero health, then none of the enemies will pay any attention to you unless you eother find more health and/or find a life seed (and raise your health to over 100). Although this sounds cool, it quickly makes the game very boring and will mean that you’ll have to restart from a saved game from the previous level if you actually want to have any fun.

On the other hand, some of the glitches can actually come in handy. In fact, the only way that I even stood a fighting chance against the ludicrously powerful final boss was to trap it in various parts of the level and either shoot it from a short distance or, in one case, literally walk inside it (without using any cheats, it just kind of happened) and empty all of my weapons.

Live by the glitch! Die by the glitch!

Live by the glitch! Die by the glitch!

As for the new weapons, one of them is a hook that you can throw at enemies. However, this will damage you if you use it at close range and it’s often only really useful for getting more powerful enemies to stand in one place for a few seconds.

The other new weapon is a combat shotgun that can be fired rapidly – although this is a cool gun, it’s surprisingly difficult to find (and you can easily miss it if you aren’t careful), it has a fairly short range and it chews through ammo very quickly.

All in all, this expansion is something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it contains everything that made 1990s FPS games great – a wide variety of settings, non-linear levels, a creative array of enemies and a lot of humour. It’s also a lot closer in style and tone to the original “Blood” than what I’ve seen of “Blood II: The Chosen” so far.

On the other hand, I can’t ever imagine people actually paying significant amounts of money for such a tiny – and glitchy- expansion pack. It’s a cool additional bonus item when buying “Blood II: The Chosen”, but I wouldn’t advise buying this product on it’s own.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, then it’d maybe get a little over three and a half.

Advertisements

Review: “Blood – Plasma Pak” ( Game Expansion for “Blood”)

Yes, none of that modern "DLC" rubbish! Back in the 90s, games actually had PROPER expansions!

Yes, none of that modern “DLC” rubbish! Back in the 90s, games actually had PROPER expansions!

Well, since I was quite tired when I wrote today’s article, I thought that I’d review a game that I’ve been playing quite a bit recently.

I am, of course, talking about the “Plasma Pak” expansion to an old 1990s FPS game called “Blood“. Does anyone remember expansion packs? I miss them – seriously, modern “DLC” doesn’t even compare

Anyway, the “Plasma Pak” was one of two expansions for “Blood” that come packaged with the original game if you buy the “One Whole Unit Blood” collection on either GoG or Steam. So, if you’re playing it these days, then you’ve probably already got a copy of “Blood”.

But, if for some reason you don’t, then don’t get this expansion until you do. Not only does the “Plasma Pak” require a copy of the original “Blood”, but you will need the practice before you tackle this expansion.

Yeah, this is near the beginning of one of the new levels. You won't even stand a chance against these two guys if you haven't played the original game....

Yeah, this is near the beginning of one of the new levels. You won’t even stand a chance against these two guys if you haven’t played the original game….

So, what extra stuff does the “Plasma Pak” give you? For starters, a few of the weapons now have new alternate fire modes.

The tesla cannon can now fire a concentrated burst of electricity that does a lot of damage, the napalm launcher now has a secondary fire that can pretty much wipe out everything on the screen and the life leech can now be used as an automated turret (although you can’t pick it up again afterwards).

The Life Leech also doubles up as a cool-looking garden sculpture too.

The Life Leech also doubles up as a cool-looking garden sculpture too.

Since these upgrades had already been applied to the main game when I played it, I didn’t really notice them too much – although each of these three alternate fires certainly came in handy. In fact, although the life leech’s alternate fire may seem kind of pointless, it was what I used to defeat the final boss in the original “Blood”.

But, the main thing that the “Plasma Pak” gives you is a whole new eight-level episode called “Post Mortem” (well, technically, it’s nine levels long but I didn’t find the secret level), which is also populated by a few new monsters too. But, I’ll talk about them a bit later.

As for the levels in “Post Mortem”, they’re surprisingly good. Although some of them are generic “old building”/”crypt”-based levels, there’s still a surprising amount of variety here and you will fight your way through interesting locations like a supermarket, a creepy old aqueduct system and some docks (with a pirate ship!) .

Arrr! WHY doesn't this game come with a piracy warning?

Arrr! WHY doesn’t this game come with a piracy warning?

These levels are as well-designed and as challenging as you would expect. In other words, they’re enjoyably challenging and they require both a lot of exploration and a lot of strategic thinking. Each level will probably take you about an hour or two to complete. So, this expansion pack is almost like a small game in and of itself.

But, one of the things that annoyed me slightly was that there were quite a few underwater-based sections in some of the levels. Since you have to use old-school keyboard aiming (since there’s no modern source port for “Blood”), underwater combat can be almost frustratingly difficult at times.

I'm about to be eaten by a gill beast. Again!

I’m about to be eaten by a gill beast. Again!

Still, as I mentioned earlier, one of the things that keeps this expansion pack fresh is the fact that it contains a few new monsters to fight.

Two of these enemies are new versions of the cultists – one of them wears green robes and throws dynamite at you (and is surprisingly easy to defeat) and the other one wears blue robes and fires a tesla cannon at you. He’s surprisingly powerful and he’s also immune to tesla cannon fire too.

He may look scary, but his attacks are easily dodged and he has no close-range attack

He may look scary, but his attacks are easily dodged and he has no close-range attack

In addition to this, there are also two types of killer plants that appear occasionally. The green one spits slime at you and the orange one spits fireballs at you.

Even though both of these enemies are static, they’re still surprisingly challenging to defeat due to both the strength of their ranged attacks and the fact that they’re often surrounded by other enemies too:

*sigh* Why didn't "Ground Force" ever feature cool gardens like THIS ?

*sigh* Why didn’t “Ground Force” ever feature cool gardens like THIS ?

But, the coolest new monsters are probably the little Calebs. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Army Of Darkness“, then you can probably guess what these guys look like. Hell, I only saw it once on VHS over a decade ago and I still got the reference. However, they only appear if you are foolish enough to break a mirror – so, if you see any mirrors, then be sure to aim away from them:

 Now, WHERE did I put that jug of boiling coffee?

Now, WHERE did I put that jug of boiling coffee?

As well as these new monsters, the “Plasma Pak” also contains an all-new final boss too. Well, actually it contains three of them. When you start the final level, you are given a lot of ammo. Which, if you’ve ever played old FPS games, you will know is never a good sign!

Hey! That cultist on the balcony is wearing orange robes. I wonder what that means?

Hey! That cultist on the balcony is wearing orange robes. I wonder what that means?

But, as you explore the level further, you’ll find that it’s only populated by three cultists in orange robes. Sounds pretty easy, right? Wrong!

As soon as you kill each one of these cultists, they transform into almost-invincible troll-like creatures that will mercilessly chase you around the level. Seriously, I’m still stuck on this level at the time of writing this review.

Yes, you aren't seeing things! This game is trolling you. Literally.

Yes, you aren’t seeing things! This game is trolling you. Literally.

So far, I’ve only got two of the trolls left to defeat – and the only reason I was able to defeat the other one was because a glitch in the game left it standing on top of a ledge with no way to fight back.

All in all, the “Plasma Pak” expansion for “Blood” is everything that an expansion pack should be. There’s a fair amount of new stuff, but the game is pretty much the same game that we all know and love. If you liked “Blood”, then you’ll also like the “Plasma Pak”. Well, except for the hilariously unfair final bosses, that is.

If I had to give this expansion pack a rating out of five, it would get a four.