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Review by: Emil Pagliarulo
Published: September 12, 1997
Everyone’s favorite cadaverous cowboy is at it again, and this time, he’s not pulling any punches. That’s right, Caleb is back in Monolith’s Blood Plasma Pak, the official add-on for your existing copy of Blood. Just as the Plutonium Pak added a new episode and new features to 3D Realms’ Duke Nukem 3D, the Plasma Pak adds several enhancements to Blood, including an all new episode.
With the add-on installed, Blood’s splash screen now reads “Blood — With Plasma” — so you know you’re in business. When starting a new game, the player is given a choice of 5 episodes, including the new scenario, “Post Mortem.” “Post Mortem” picks up the action after the events of the previous four episodes, and the destruction of Tchernobog. As it turns out, the influence of the “Devourer of Souls” is even more far-reaching than you had originally feared, and those dedicated to the Dark God seem more determined than ever to reestablish his unholy reign. After all, he can’t stay dead forever.
“Post Mortem” begins with “Welcome to Your Life,” a bloody romp through the K-March department store, where it becomes all too apparent that the Cult’s influence now extends even into the most mundane aspects of everyday life, like the retail industry (shades of WalMart). It’s become a Blood cliché that every single door marked “Manager” has one of those fat Bloated Butcher dudes waiting on the other side….
From there, it’s on to “They Are Here” and the halls of the Innsmouth Corporate Plaza (a reference to H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth). It is here that we first see the Cult as more than just a powerful religious sect, but as a very real, very dark force with strong organization and financial clout. Okay, so maybe I’m overanalyzing, but the feeling that the Cult of Tchernobog is a huge, secret conglomerate is definitely there. Monolith has stated that Blood 2 will be less campy than the original, and will instead be more gothic, with a strong Lovecraft influence. “Post Mortem” indicates they are true to their word, and is a nice transition into more “serious” horror.
From “They Are Here” it’s on to “Public Storage,” a large warehouse-type level sort of reminiscent of the secret government warehouse map in the Duke it out in D.C. add-on for Duke Nukem 3D. You’ve really got to wonder what the Cult is storing, and why. Do they know something we don’t?
Level four of “Post Mortem” is “Aqueducts,” a journey into a large hydro-electric plant, with plenty of underwater areas. This is probably the episode’s toughest map, simply because of all the submerged combat. For some reason, Blood’s human opponents seem to kick into overdrive when they are underwater, and have a very unfair advantage. Diving into a pool is usually greeted by a deadly hail of Tommy Gun bullets the second you break the surface of the water. For that reason alone, “Aqueducts” is very slow going. Fortunately, the frustrating pace gives way to a very cool ending, where you’ll encounter a sailing ship you must sink (beware of the cannons!), so that you can venture into its half submerged hold. The “sunken wreck” feeling is great, and is even more effective than it is in “Shipwrecked,” the first level of Blood’s second episode.
Although fun, fast-paced, and somewhat narrative in nature, “Post Mortem’s” first few levels just aren’t that impressive. They seem to lack substance, and pale in comparison to the great maps of Cryptic Passage. All of that changes in level five, “The Ruined Temple.” In fact, at this point the levels jump from mediocre to fantastic. “Ruined Temple” boasts some really convincing shadowing, and the overall design works perfectly. You’d think that with all the “temple” levels there have been for Blood, someone would have gotten it right. Finally, they did.
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