I love Blade. I fucking love Blade. There’s something about his character (both on screen and in the comics) that I’m totally down with. I just felt like I need to mention that first up before I commit to anything that might imply otherwise. Years and years after my passion for Blade blossomed, I discovered that the movie received a game on the PlayStation way back in 2000. Naturally, as part of my quest in recent history to play games based specifically on movies (although every once in a while I’ll leave the gate open for a TV show or other licensed property), I acquired a copy of the game. And, as does not happen often enough, it’s not altogether unenjoyable.
I’ll start out with the first point (bad times): the controls are largely trash. Well, let me back up; The Fifth Element is probably my new all-time low when it comes to controls in a third-person action adventure game (in my old man memory, anyway) and I can’t even begin to malign Blade for being anywhere near that awful. Still, this is the era before a dual analog stick configuration became the norm, so I’m stuck veering left and right on the left analog stick, which these days feels suspiciously like playing an FPS keyboard only. The right analog stick, as usual for the majority of original PlayStation games, lays dormant. Hold on, enemies, I have to rotate vaguely towards you in order to use a button dedicated to lock-on as if I were a member of S.T.A.R.S.. Do I use two periods when I end a sentence with an acronym? Man, the two years I spent in high school sucked.
Continuing with shitting on the controls, not only is it difficult to move around normally, but there are certain scenes in each level where the camera detaches from Blade. The majority of the game is spent locked behind him in third person, but in cramped quarters tends to lock the camera in place…which wouldn’t be a big deal, if it didn’t retain the same set of tank controls that work well in a game of this type. Think of it as the majority of the game playing like RE4, with certain areas rolling back to scenes from the original RE’s Spencer Mansion. Couple that with the main action also being the main attack button (leaving much ammo on the floor while trying to activate switches in the environment) and precision jumping puzzles (albeit low stakes, largely for items like medical supplies or ammunition) and it can become violently irritating between combat encounters.
Combat itself isn’t terribly awful (control issues aside) but seems to be a largely rock/paper/scissors affair. Enemies obey a “weakness” system, in that you can kill them with anything you come across (shotguns, pistols, your fists, etc.) but only one of the weapons you possess are tailored to kill them as efficiently as possible. Holding either the L2 or L1 button will pause the game (ala Metal Gear Solid) and allow you to choose weapons or items appropriate to the situation without being murdered to death in real-time. Nothing particularly special, but it beats just running up to every enemy and mashing the X button to make them disappear from the screen.
Probably the most interesting thing to point out (and this is a bit of a hole) is that the entire game appears to roll from beginning to end in a type of “open world”. As the 3 1/2 hours I put into it forewent any sort of solid definitive level ending in favor of cutscenes, or static “LOADING” prompts, followed with the next portion of the city being loaded, in many cases leaving the door open to return to previous areas if necessary. Even further, at least one of the levels had multiple paths leading to the same boss appearing in different areas, allowing progress after defeating either of their iterations. I have no idea if the choice in battle has any sort of tangible effect on the outcome of the rest of the game, but it’s exciting to know that the option is here.
Continuing with that thread, digging up more info on the developer responsible for this game (Hammerhead), I learned that their previous release was the PlayStation version of Quake II. Genuinely regarded as a solid, technically proficient port of the game, Quake II shares a number of similarities with this game that lead me to believe that they’re likely on the same “internally developed” engine. Level transitions headline with a “LOADING” prompt, where ambient noise continues to play? A developer delivering a game thirteen months after their previous (herculean) effort on the system? The overall architecture of the world? This is all speculation, but still fascinating as a snapshot of a late-stage original PlayStation game.
Wrapping things up, I find the title interesting enough. Largely propelled by my love of Blade (have I mentioned that I love Blade?) I can easily see myself putting in the time necessary to finish it off…while it has problems, there’s nothing so egregious that I would throw the controller out the window and kick the console to death. Sure, the save system tends to kill progress if you’re not paying attention, but we could go on all day about other games that serve up much, much worse examples of that. And honestly? I kinda want to see how far out the game is going to go. It’s clearly not following the story of the movie (and, based on the presence of Dragonetti in the campaign, takes place before the movie proper does) but…well…fuck it. I love Blade.
…….but why does the game have zombies