MIDNIGHT SONS MONTH REVIEW #1: BLADE (PS1)

Though it shares the same cover art as the theatrical film poster, Blade is not a tie-in to the successful film. It was published two years after the release of the movie by Activision and does not follow the plot either. At best it can be considered a prequel as Whistler is your support in the game and one of collectible vampire glyphs is the Frost glyph. None of the actors reprise their roles from the film as well.

Blade was developed by Hammerhead games, a company that I can find little information on other than they broke off from TT games, made this game, a port of Quake II for the PS1, Shadow Master and then were more than likely folded back into TT games. I’m assuming they’re making Lego games now if that’s the case, but your guess is as good as mine.

The best way to describe Blade is a hybrid survival horror/action game. It has the same turn/pivot tank controls featured in games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but the fixed camera angles are used sparingly. It also has a heavy emphasis on resource management, as much like most survival horror games you’ll want to use your heavy weapons sparingly for the larger monsters that you’ll face. You will find places in the game to purchase ammo scattered throughout the game and these are a huge help. I’m not sure if it was deliberate on the part of the developers, but I thought it was neat how you obtain money to use these stations from your defeated enemies and Blade explains in the first film that they bank roll their operation by stealing from the vampires and familiars.

Unlike other games in the genre, Blade has a healthy dose of action that is rather fun. You have access to a decent variety of weapons (standards like a pistol, shotgun, machine pistol and grenade launcher) as well as fisticuffs and Blade’s trusty sword. The sword comes in handy for smaller enemies and vampires and is recommended for use early in the game to conserve ammo. Your melee attacks also has an ammo meter of sorts, a stamina bar that depletes when you strafe, punch or use your sword, but it fills when not doing any of this actions and you also have recovery items for this meter as well. Weapon selection is a lot more intuitive than in most games of this type. As opposed to pausing the game and going into a menu, you hold the L2 button and it pauses in-game so you can select your weapons and ammo on the fly. The L1 button serves the same purpose for your healing inventory.

Each of the weapons you carry, with the exception of the sword of course, has access to several types of ammunition. Standard ammo is useful for dispatching human enemies, carbon ammo is used for monster type enemies and armored foes, and finally silver is best against vampires. You know what type of foe you’re facing when you use the games targeting mechanic. A human enemies life bar will show as green, monsters as yellow and vampires as red.

When you target the enemy you also have the chance to perform a critical attack. By holding down the lock-on button a circle starts to fill up in the corner and if you time it correctly, you can do heavy damage or kill certain enemies in one hit. One of my first complaints about the game is that I had no idea about this mechanic and thought I was one shot killing enemies randomly several hours in. Anyone playing the game without the instruction manual (remember those things?) might have a hard time.

Despite being a fairly linear game, there is some replay incentive to be found in Blade. At various points in the game you can branch out into different paths that change the levels. There is also parts of a weapon scattered throughout the game, and if you manage to collect them all it changes the final level and boss.

Overall I did like Blade, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its fair share of problems. I can see the controls being an issue for some, but I had no issue personally as I loved the classic Resident Evil games. The game is sorely lacking a 180 degree turn function, which was a genre staple by the time this game came out in the year 2000. You face some very large and tough to kill enemies that you need to get some space from to fight in order to conserve health. The game establishes very early on, I’m talking the first area here people, that enemies can come from nowhere and drain your health pretty quickly.

The largest problem with the game is the placement of the save points. They are spaced VERY far apart if you want to turn off the game and if you find yourself ambushed you can lose a lot of progress which is very frustrating. There isn’t even a save point found next to the final boss of the game should you go through the path where you didn’t get the special weapon (which is what I did).

I’m not going to say that Blade is by any means a perfect game, but I had a lot of fun with it despite its shortcomings. If like me, you liked games like Dino Crisis and Resident Evil on the PS1, you might want to give Blade a look.  Oh, and there’s a short section where you play as Whistler where all you can do is fire a shotgun and headbutt. How many other games let you more or less play as Kris Kristofferson?

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One thought on “MIDNIGHT SONS MONTH REVIEW #1: BLADE (PS1)

  1. Pingback: Midnight Sons Month: The Collected Edition « Comic Gamers Assemble

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