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Commander Blood

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Philippe Ulrich

GAME DEVELOPER:Cryo Interactive


Copyright 1994, Cryo Interactive

Commander Blood is a little-known sequel to the great classic Captain Blood. This time, your goal is to find black holes in order to go back in time and see the Big-Bang as it happens. Although it “upgrades” the classic with FMV (full-motion video) sequences and 3D graphics while retaining the creative vision that made Captain Blood so memorable, the game ends up being a disappointment to fans of the original game. Sam Jeffreys, in his review for MobyGames, explains why:

Commander Blood lacks nearly everything that made Captain Blood great. Sure, the same 2 guys who created the first game are at the head of the sequel’s development team, but instead of using ’90s technology and programming advances to expand on their original (groundbreaking) ideas, instead they have created a game that, while stunning as an experience, is only quite average as a game. First off, Captain Blood‘s revolutionary UPCOM (icon-based communication system) has been replaced with a dull multiple-choice conversation system, where you tediously click through reams of word-choices, making sure you’ve ‘talked’ about everything you can, so you don’t miss anything. The illusion of communication with the game’s characters is often lost as it becomes a mechanical process of click-clicking on every single choice until you’ve exhausted all topics. It doesn’t help that each choice is a single word: It feels more like a database than a conversation.

OK, so the communication system is a bit annoying, but usually the plot is engaging enough for you to overlook this. What else? Oh yeah, Captain Blood‘s freedom of movement and non-linear gameplay; Well, Commander Blood is totally linear. I’ve played through it 4 or 5 times, and tried everything possible, so I think I can definitely say, yep, it’s totally linear. Whoopee. And what about Captain Blood‘s freedom to do what you want, kill anyone you want, work stuff out for yourself?; In Commander Blood, you can’t do that. You’re led by the hand right through the game. There are puzzles but you get told what to do. ‘Honk’ (your ship’s onboard computer) will just butt in with some ‘helpful advice’ at the appropriate moment. e.g. “Oh Commander, I think I know just the item we need to resolve this situation!” Then you get a menu option ‘teleport’. You sheep-fully click on the option and the puzzle is solved. OK, there are some things to work out, but it’s all very easy. Which brings me to…length of play.

Captain Blood was a difficult game. And that’s putting it lightly. It took me something like 6 years (maybe more) to complete it. Commander Blood took 2 days. To be fair, I had a great time playing it (for reasons outlined above) – In fact, it was probably one of the most solidly fun times I ever had playing through a game – But then it was over. It’s a decent length game, but it’s too easy and, like I said, the gameplay lacks a bit. Also, there’s the ending. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t played the game, but it doesn’t feel like an ending. It’s a cool sequence, but it still kind of feels like the game ended halfway through.

Viewed as an experience, Commander Blood is fantastic and unique, great fun for the 2 or 3 days it will last you. Viewed as an adventure game, it has an involving scenario and plenty of variety but it’s too easy, totally linear and quite simplistic. Viewed as the sequel to Captain Blood, it’s not as good, and is actually a more basic game in many ways. Cryo could’ve expanded on what they created in 1988 and made something truly remarkable. Instead they opted for the ‘lite’ approach. Don’t get me wrong – I really like Commander Blood; It’s a beautiful piece of computer art. But Captain Blood was art which had the gameplay, technology and (dare I say it) sheer genius to match. Ahh :) ” Excellent artistic direction and cool gameplay still makes it a Top Dog for me, but if you haven’t played the original, play that one first to see how much better it can be.

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