STAFF REVIEW of Bloodforge (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Thursday, May 3, 2012.
by Brent Roberts

Bloodforge  Box art Deep within the ancient tales of gods and men, there is a story in particular that needs to be told. For it is said that the tapestry of fate is already woven for us all and that tapestry cannot be broken or changed, however this would not be the case for the Celtic warrior named Crom. This is no ordinary tale though my dear reader, for this tale depicts the battles, lies, and war between the gods and man, and the battle for one man to write his own fate. Interested in how the story goes then are we? Then walk with me down our path dear reader, and let us uncover the myth, the legend, the tale of Crom and his quest through Bloodforge.

A warrior's pain is one that lasts until the end of his days. Recounting the battles over and over again inside his mind, seeing the faces of each and every foe whose blood blankets your blade in a red glow, hearing the screams of pain and suffering just as clear as if they were happening right in front of his eyes. All this pain is a warrior's burden and such leaves scars throughout the mind and body and each day the scars of that pain grow a little larger in size. This is why a warrior who is scarred by battle seeks refuge and solace so that they might find peace. This my dear reader is where we start our tale and find our warrior Crom has chosen to find a life of peace and family, but as all tragedies go, this was a peace that would not last forever. Our beloved hero returns home to his family after a day of hunting only to find that his house is ablaze and the gods have sent their warriors to end Crom's suffering. The wife escapes inside the burning house as Crom fights to protect the peace he so desperately wants. Upon entering the house, the gods disguised Crom's wife as an enemy and as she approaches Crom, his blade runs through her with ease. The gods laugh and break the spell allowing Crom to witness the destruction he caused at his own hands, and come face to face with ultimate pain and suffering as his wife dies in his arms. At this point my dear reader, one thing is clear and that is Crom will have his revenge.

The path is clear and now Crom sets out to right the wrongs, claim his vengeance, and finally find the peace that is now but a faint memory. It is here where we learn about the biggest challenge that Crom will face throughout Bloodforge and that is "The Camera". I understand you being confused my dear reader, but let me be crystal clear on this point. No enemy in Bloodforge is more difficult than the camera. Not only is the feel of the camera very sensitive, but when entering combat, it becomes such a pain in the @$$ to control that a lot of times you will find yourself either swinging away at air, or lost in the middle of a pile of enemies, or even getting attacked from off screen. The second part of that plays a big role in the lack of quality in the combat of Bloodforge. While the combo system provides some flash to go along with the bloody and over the top cinematic kill sequences and magic spells; controlling the camera when you're surrounded becomes such a hassle that you start to question your sanity of purchasing this steaming pile.

There are some reasons that contribute to the colossal failure of the camera and combat system, and one of the main reasons lay within the graphics of Bloodforge. It can be taken with a grain of salt that the artists were going for a heavy inked style for the scenery, however you will find that all the enemies (even though very generic, repetitive, and unoriginal) will also be draped in similar dark grey skins with slight variations to the character model. What this means to us is that when you are in a group of five enemies, it will be immensely hard to try and find your warrior out of the group, esp. when you're trying to control the camera from hell. Even though the levels have tints of baby crap blue, vomiting puke green and eye irritating red, you'll still be traversing an environment almost completely black and grey, with touches of lighter grey scattered about. With the growing list of things that are wrong with this game, it almost becomes a self-inflicted punishment to play it.

Not only are the enemies, levels, combat, graphics, and camera a big negative against Bloodforge, we have to also add the category of sound to that infamous list. Apparently Crom doesn't know how to use his inside voice a lot as he tends to shout almost everything to the faces of everyone. While this may seem to fit the character, when you're four hours in this becomes more of a laughable stereotype of a character. When you add that the overall music of the levels and boss battles do very little to enhance the experience of Bloodforge what you get as a result is a mediocre audio experience that will quickly grow old. The list of triumphant failures for this game just keeps on growing longer, and longer, and longer.

There have been plenty of great and iconic hack-n-slash titles from which Bloodforge could have based its foundation upon, however, after trying to steal top quality aspects from other top tier titles, Bloodforge looks like a bastardized demon spawn child of a game that should have not been released. The big question that should be asked is how could a company that wanted to make a good quality hack-n-slash game, completely ruin almost every aspect of it, and then release it at a premium cost? It's almost as if they were handed blueprints of what made great hack-n-slash games and said "we'll take these aspects and make them our own" and thus begins what I'm calling the George Lucas syndrome. I know George Lucas doesn't fit into this review, but you could say the same about everything in Bloodforge.

I cannot stress this enough, Bloodforge is a game that could have been absolutely amazing and could easily have been a contender for the top game on the Xbox Live Arcade, but sadly this title gets ripped limb from limb with everything that is wrong with it and then it gets impaled on the massive 1200 MS price point and has nothing to help it recover. Yes you read correctly, this massive steaming pile can be yours for only 1200 MS points. So asking yourself, "This or Trials Evolution?" is like asking if you would rather skydive without a parachute, or enjoy the rest of your life? So my dear reader we have come to the end of our horrific journey through undeniable failure and hardship, and if you still want to play Bloodforge, then stop reading this review and seek immediate psychiatric help.

How about a target lock on feature to help improve gameplay? Maybe make the enemies different than the main character to help us find our character in battle? How about improving on the camera and making a statement with good camera controls (I'm not asking for great, but anything better than this abomination).

Overall: 4.2 / 10
Gameplay: 4.0 / 10
Visuals: 4.5 / 10
Sound: 3.8 / 10


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