STAFF REVIEW of Blood Wake (Xbox)

Tuesday, February 19, 2002.
by Underdog

Blood Wake Box art Ahoy there land lovers, grab your sea legs and lets take a dip into the
waters of Stormfront Studios? Blood Wake where you assume the role of Shoa Kai, a young whipper snapper who during a routine recon mission is lost at sea. After drifting for days and getting one hell of a sunburn, Shoa is picked up by Lord Zeng who just happens to be with the Shadow Clan, an informal group of raiders, who are out to find fortune and infamy. Zeng makes a deal with Shoa that he can't refuse, either join him and his crew to destroy his enemies or make like Tom Hanks and keep drifting.
To make a longer game, Shoa hooks up with the Shadow Clan to help in the
effort of taking over the Dragon Sea by destroying Zeng's foes the Jade Kingdom and
The Iron Empire. Now that Shoa is in, he must prove his keep by impressing his fellow
peeps and Lord Zeng while trying also to move up in the ranks and finding out who
was the corperte who left your !&%$@#* to bake at sea.

Before we go on to the game play of Blood Wake, I have to be up front with you fine people, I literally had no idea what the story was about until I read the manual. To put it nicely Blood Wake uses the worst way to tell a story. To cut on perhaps production costs, there are no cut scenes to help the story along but instead the use of still sketches of the characters with voice-overs, which quickly became boring and dull, are used at the beginning and ending of each level. Let?s be honest, there is NO single player story. It?s a deathmatch game people. The single player experience is a thrown together story to setup the different missions to familiarize you with the boats and how to deathmatch on water. To save from being bored I would just click past all that mess and jump back into the action. Now that I feel better getting that off my chest, lets talk about the game play.

I must give Stormfront Studios kudos for doing a fine job in the game play
department. What they did with the water would make a physics major go home and smack his momma, it?s that good people. In BloodWake the water plays a big factor, it can make or break your efforts in completing a level, and let?s face it, this is a boat game, if you were to play on blocky, unrealistic water it wouldn?t even begin to offer a glimpse of realism let alone a challenge. Once you play Blood Wake you'll see what I'm talking about. It can be smooth sailing with gentle lapping ripples of water gently brushing the side of your vessel, then before you know it all hell breaks loose, swells engulf the bow of your boat and bullets shoot down ducks instead of sinking ships. When enemy boats begin bearing down on you, the pond becomes a full scale ocean with drops and swells that rock and dip your boat making it difficult to maneuver, which adds realism to the game.

The controls for Blood Wake are very responsive and with 3 different kinds
of control settings to choose from, you can find one that is comfortable for you, but it
would have been nice to have an option to customize the controller the way you
like. The controls for the game itself has one analog thumb stick controlling the
direction of the boat while the other thumb stick controls your camera. Your trigger
buttons fire your first and secondary weapons and the face buttons are there for
turbo, switching weapons, moving or deleting your HUD, changing view and radar
zoom. While playing the game you have the choice of playing 3 difficulty levels
which are Ensign, Captain and Admiral? A little FYI, you can't raise the difficulty
until you have mastered the pervious level on a harder setting. So if you have the
gonads to crank it up to Admiral, you'll be amazed as to see how many enemy boats will
appear with "captains" hell bent on blowing you out of the water and it will be an
easy task for them too, because as you go higher in difficulty the more your boat is
easily damaged. Don't fear if you take some damage or run out of your secondary
weapon the game developers were kind enough to add the feature that when you destroy an enemy ship they might just leave you a power-up or two. One is for repairs towards
your boat and the other one is ammo for your secondary weapon. Luckily your
primary weapon doesn't run out of ammo, but if not careful can over heat and
decrease the rate of fire that you are dishing out to passing boats which
can be a very bad thing.

Like I said before the water in this game is amazing, as of right now you can't get any better than that. Another thing that was done very well visually were the boats. The developers really took their time and put a lot of detail in them, from the chain gun spitting out shells, to all the moving parts that came into play as your boat changed weapons. The surroundings weren't too bad, nothing to write home about, just some rocks and some buildings spread out through the game.

The sound in Blood Wake wasn't over the top, but it will do. I mean this is your average shoot everything that is shooting at you game. So through out you have your chain gun blaring, some explosions, sounds of the water hitting your boat, and me cursing like a sailor as I watch my boat get riddled with bullets!. Soundtrack wise, the little Asian music gets old fast and it would have been nice to add your own music.

Please add some animated cut screens to help pull us into the story. Let us play our own music while we are kicking some pirate ass.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 10.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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