Developer: Climax Group
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Price: 1200 Microsoft Points
Blood…blood…blood…blood…blood…grunt…blood. You now know what it is like to play Bloodforge. This is the latest attempt from Microsoft to make you part with your well earned Microsoft Points. What’s that? You would like to know more? Well then, let’s see what we can do to better inform you. Fear not, this won’t take long!
Bloodforge is best described as a hack (smash, slice, beat, decapitate… the list goes on) and slash revenge quest. You as the lucky player, take control of Crom, the rather unhappy fellow who appears to have lost his family to an unfortunate incident involving sharp objects and horrible people…well, Gods and their bidding. That all sounds rather simple, right? Good! You are now at one with the mindset of Crom (the Barbarian?) Family, dead. Crom get revenge. Game start.
Crom is probably the worst name for a hero ever created, be careful not to try and take it away from him though. There are numerous occasions where an enemy may try to call him “Destroyer”, there will be no spoilers here as to why they this is, but simple Crom does not like it! You do have to wonder what kind of person would rather be called Crom than Destroyer, either way you will notice early on that Crom sounds as thick as the name suggests. Voice acting is not a strong point to Bloodforge in the slightest.
If you feel like you can handle the fact that your brain isn’t going to be tested, at all, while playing this game then you will be pleased to know that it plays pretty simply too. The controls are a button bashers dream. Press X 4 times or Y 4 times and you have your slightly varying methods of ripping apart the fool attacking you. Progressing through the game you will come across upgrades to the 3 weapons available to Crom, which are the Sword (medium speed/damage), Hammer (Heavy/slow damage) and Bone Claws (Light/Fast damage). An upgrade, as seen through the eyes of Bloodforge, means that you press X or Y a few extra times for your combo and the weapon changes it’s look.
You would think judging from the style of character, that the game play would be quite sluggish, this is true to an extent but equally not at all. There is little difference between weapons in terms of the striking speed. It is clear what they are supposed to do but you can and it is probably wise to take on everything with your Hammer. The swings look as though they should be heavy and take extra timing/effort to perform but they don’t. This coupled with the lack of blocking function means that Crom is nimble enough to produce an evade function. Thinking about it, one of the worst aspects to Bloodforge is the combat. Being a hack and slash, this should at the very least be a strong selling point but it really isn’t. While performing combos you often have to break it with an evade (which can take an eternity to register, and even longer for you to regain control once it has completed) because your enemy, especially the “tougher” ones will continue to do their attack even though the end of your hammer has just hit them square in the face. It’s funny that an enemy can break your combo by landing a hit but you can’t do it in return. All in all, combat is a horrible hypocrisy!
This type of 2 hit, run away and start agin combat doesn’t even alter for the bosses. They, if anything, are just long winded elements of annoyance, placed in the game to try and make the play time stretch out a little further. Each boss is pattern based and will usually have a section requiring you to battle some of the ridiculously unvarying enemies you have encountered so far. Equally there is not much originality to Bloodforge. Imagine eating God of War, Dante’s Inferno, maybe a side of Darksiders and then throwing up. The ghastly mess you are left with is Bloodforge.
There is some saving of grace with the ability to summon Godly powers that do damage in there own way. Although having said that, only one of them actually looks awesome. Pressing RB will allow Crom to “wield the thunder of Gaul”. This sounds a bit generic but it actually allows you to call a giant hand out of nowhere to squish an enemy or 2. The let down that accompanies these powers is that Bloodforge is incredibly stingy with the amount of manner you have to spend to use a power concurrent with the severe lack of ways to gain manner.
The other 2 Gods for those interested are Nilhelm and Ceronus. Nilhelm allows you to call in shards that “devour souls of the fallen”…and near fallen. Ceronus gives you the power to “evoke the horned gods serpents”. It’s not as rude as it sounds, evoking a serpent brings an almighty snake into the battlefield. Actually, there really is no way to escape from the fact that this sounds like a God and his giant penis that slaps enemies!
What it does have going for it, is a good art style. Gruesome, but any artist could appreciate what they have achieved. They have been slightly cheeky and avoided the need for faces by placing masks on everyone. We can forgive this because you will see a boss (who is really not memorable enough to name) that has a face even a Bull dog would look pretty next to. It is safe to say that you will wish they left the mask on!
As you can see, it is hard to pay this game a compliment. You can try but it will only end in failure. Just like the camera work. The view is given to you almost as though you are on some form of drunk, lumbering ogre that was hired to follow Crom on his journey. Once you begin playing you assume that it will go away after a while, alas it hangs around like a bad hangover. For every good thing there are easily two categorically worse features.
It would be easy to rant on further but it shall end here. Bloodforge is basically a game filled with crimson vengeance that can be completed in three to four hours without a single death. There are multiplayer modes, but it is doubtful that you will go near them because you will be suffering from RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) due to the amount of infuriating button bashing combat you put yourself through. Perhaps that is the only reason to buy it, to set yourself a challenge. Play it without getting bored for more than 4 hours and you win. Personally I can think of many better ways to get RSI. More to the point, I would like the three hours I spent playing this game back. Failing that, I’ll settle for a bottle of lube and a subscription to Babestation.