While Bloodforge is missing a few key elements, a 3.0 rating is unfair in my opinion....
*UPDATE--Having now gone through the entire game, I feel comfortable in my score of 7.0. Bloodforge is a short (but re-playable) violent trip (literally and figuratively) through an enraged barbarians quest against the gods, fueled by vengeance. Man, these gods are UGLY(but very cool).
--The combat, while frustrating at times due to a chaotic camera (and wobbly cam outside of combat...whose idea was that?), overpowered enemies who move much faster than our hero, a couple of bosses who are just plain cheap, and combos that prove to be useless most of the time, is fun once you establish a rhythm. Crom's hits feel hard and appropiately violent as blood and dismembered body parts rain around him. It's cool to be able to switch weapons on the fly (big sword, BIGGER hammer, duel claws, and a crossbow...which all receive 2 upgrades during the adventure). Two things that I longed for during my time hacking n' slashing (n' flipping) were:
-a BLOCK BUTTON!!!!!! Come on...shield are not, Crom should be able to BLOCK...let me repeat...BLOCK. It is silly to have to flip around like a monkey the entire time. The enemies can block, so why not the hero?
-A quick shoulder butt (like in Warhammer 40K)....not the telegraphed ones from the combos that the enemies will almost immediately counter.
The graphics are GREAT for an XBLA game. All of the character models look like they could be from a regular 360 disc. The art style is excellent, with low saturation except for a few hues (the red is oh so bright). It's like Simon Bisely painting come to life. AWESOME.
Gamespot's reviewer complains that the stages are plain and boring; I greatly disagree. While the immediate backgrounds are drab, the distant view is sweetly surreal with swirling snow, rain, pieces of architecture,debris, and lightening. It is extremely epic and atmospheric. The developers did a wonderful job with it.
The spells are pretty cool. Unfortunately, my favorite one-- the Ceronus shadow serpents, is the least effective. It also sucks that getting hit after being enraged while end Crom's empowered, rage state. That...doesn't seem right.
The stages are mostly linear, but the player can find secrets off the beaten path here and there. There is nothing to criticize here...it's just the kind of game it is.*Since the stages are meant to be replayed, it would have been VERY kind of the developers to allow the player to SKIP THE CUTSCENES...geez.
The music is very dark and fitting with lots of percussion and deep strings. The sound effects are great, giving further intensity to Crom's kills. The voice acting is passable...nothing great but nothing grating either. The voice of the boss in the Land of the Dead got on my nerves, but only because he kept saying the same thing over and over (and I kept dying over and over...ha).
The Blood Duel mode definitely adds to the replayablility and is very addicting. It pushes you to really try and make the most out of the battle system to get a higher score than the person you are competing against.
Overall, Bloodforge is a fun and even addicting third person hack n' slash game with some God of War like combos. It may be derivative, but I happen to prefer the Celtic lore over God of War's mythology. With several minor tweaks here and there, this could have been an outstanding game all in all. For now, I'm afraid it will be a niche game that will not see anymore support....a true shame. :( 7.0
*Below is more or less a blog type. I was reviewing the game as I was playing it, while passionate impressions and frustrations were fresh...
I have only completed the first stage and am well into the second, so I cannot rate this XBLA game as a whole, but only by the impressions the first couple of stages have left me with. Ok...enough of the "blah blah".
I will start with what I feel are negatives....
-Two moves Bloodforge needs (and that I'm instinctively craving)--
-The ability to BLOCK. Yes....Crom does not fight with a shield, but one can still block and parry with a two-handed weapon (even the claws).
This should have been a given and is criminal that the developers thought otherwise. Rolling around is good....but come on.....
-The ability to SHOULDER BUTT by pressing forward on the left stick
and one of the attack buttons. I've been playing Warhammer 40K
Space Marine a lot lately and this maneuver would have been great
for Bloodforge.I I know you can do it as part of special attacks, but it's not the same. Lacking it is not on a critical level like being able to
block, but, in my opinion, it would have added nicely to the game
-Weapon UPGRADES would have been awesome (elemental runes or being
able to upgrade based on how much which weapon spills the most
blood..etc.. *UPDATE*--Ok...so you do find new (and I would think more powerful, though they don't seem so) variations of the sword, hammer, etc.), but it would be cool to be able to customize them in some way.
-A steady camera would have been nice....I don't know why they did the
wobbly effect. It's a little annoying and I can see how it could induce
sickness in some players. Plus during the combat the camera gets chaotic and it's easy to lose track of Crom.*UPDATE* Ok, now that I am further in....developers...PLEASE FIX the cam during combat. It zooms in so close that I cannot tell WHAT is happening until I find that I'm actually facing AWAY from every enemy, leaving myself wide open, or until a opponent suddenly grabs me and pummels half my health away. If patching in a cam fix in not possible, at least reduce the amount of damage the enemies do. They can take hundreds of hits (from HUGE weapons) and their attacks drain my life bar to a blinking state before I even know what's going on (gotta love those off screen attacks). I'm dropping my score by .5 (and I'm being nice).
Other than those things, I think the game is fine. I must admit I have a love for fantasy hack n' slash games; however, that does not mean I like them by default (I did NOT care for Lord of the Rings: War in the North or Dungeon Siege 3).
I dig the art design and graphics (especially for an XBLA game).
The art reminds me of one of my favorite artists, Simon Bisley.
The setting is cool (if a underdeveloped). I love snakes and really like the shadow serpent spells!
The Rage ability is nice to have...especially when fighting the fat brute enemies...it's fun to stick the big sword in their gut!
I will conclude this for now.....7.0 so far.