Giant Bomb Review

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Bloodforge Review

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Bloodforge is the half-baked XBLA God of War clone you never asked for.

There's no shortage of rip-offs in video games. This is, after all, an industry largely based on iteration and building on concepts laid down by those that came before. Sometimes developers stray a little too close to their inspirations for comfort, and get branded with the scarlet letter that is the "rip-off" label. I certainly wouldn't argue with most people's definition of a video game rip-off, but in the case of Bloodforge, I think an entirely new distinction is in order. Rip-off, as we know it, barely covers this hackneyed hack-and-slash snoozer from Climax Group (Sudeki, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories). There is no obfuscation here, no attempt to mask the brazen thievery from Sony's God of War franchise and Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian series. It is a Transmorphers-level mockbuster of a video game.

Who would have thought someone could create an anti-hero more one-note than Kratos?

How blatant does it get? Well, for starters, the lead character's name is Crom. Granted, in this case, Climax isn't so much riffing on the god of Conan lore as the original Gaelic deity that Howard loosely based his god upon. Much as God of War used fixtures of Greek mythology as blade-fodder for its angry hero, Bloodforge pulls figures from pre-Christian Irish and Anglo Saxon mythology for Crom to cut his way through. Not that there's much of a history lesson here. What Climax does with these figures is even less historically relevant than God of War's various storylines. Basically, there are gods, and you hate them, so you kill all of them over the course of roughly four hours.

The reason you hate them is nearly identical to the reason Kratos hated his own gods. At the outset, you're betrayed by an unseen god for unknown reasons and tricked into killing your own wife. Crom, being the shouty barbarian that he is (he shouts everything), immediately sets out looking for vengeance, while a mysterious and sultry witch in a totally not evil-looking mask guides him by telling him things that most certainly are true and totally won't lead to some absurdly telegraphed plot twist down the road. Certainly not.

At least if you've played God of War, you'll know how this is all going to play out. Gods are slayed in order of least-hated to burning rage of a thousand suns, and in between you murder a gaggle of grunt soldiers and vile-looking creatures while using a few different weapon and magic types. It's literally the same formula, except employed with almost impressive levels of ineptitude and apathy toward making any of this fun.

The first problem (and there are many) is the combat. Crom has multiple weapons, but none of them are particularly pleasurable to use. The swords, hammers, and hand blades you're offered are hamstrung by sluggish-feeling combat animations that make trying to use a specific combo or maneuver all but fruitless. Of course, you don't need to use any of the combos. Just mash on the two attack buttons and periodically dodge out of the way of enemy attackers, and you'll do just fine. Unfortunately, unlike God of War, which does a decent job of masking its sometimes button-mashy combat with responsive controls and animations that make you look like a bona fide bad-ass, Bloodforge's combat is just a slog. It's not fun to look at, and it's not fun to engage with.

The effectiveness of this crossbow borders on hilarious.

The enemies you're presented with do little to alleviate this. I'm not just talking about the usual three-hit-kill grunts, but even the big guys. The giant-sized grotesqueries and more tactically minded bad guys are just as one-note as the first guys you kill in the game. Their attack patterns don't vary in the slightest, and every attack is telegraphed by a big honking animation that practically screams, "HEY, USE THAT DODGE BUTTON BECAUSE I'M TOTALLY GOING TO ATTACK YOU NOW, OKAY?" at you. The only thing that makes later enemies more challenging is that they take forever to kill. That's it. There is a huge difference between making an enemy tough and making an enemy a laborious chore to kill. Pretty much every bad guy in Bloodforge skews toward the laborious chore category.

To make matters worse--or better, or both, I don't know--the combat is also just a wee bit broken. You see, in addition to blades, Crom has a crossbow he can use to nail enemies from afar. It's a bit of a chore to use, in that you have to at least be sort of facing an enemy to fire it off, but the benefit is that it never runs out of ammo. In a game that wasn't kind of awful, you'd expect your foes to be smart enough to navigate a devious plan such as, oh, I don't know, running around in a circle forever with only periodic moments to stop and shoot your crossbow until everyone is dead and you haven't taken a single hit, but in Bloodforge? Oh my goodness no. Most of these guys will just keep running around in a circle right with you, letting you shoot them over and over again until they're stunned and you can run up and deliver the final, incoherent deathblow.

I say incoherent because Bloodforge's camera is the worst. This camera, not any of the in-game enemies, is your greatest foe in Bloodforge. It's bad enough when you're just running around and the camera starts bobbing back and forth behind you like it's being held by a drunken film student, but when you're actually trapped in one of those circular bad guy arenas that you can't escape until everyone's dead, just trying to keep the camera at a reasonable angle on whatever it is you're trying to kill is a severe hassle. And I'm not just talking about using the aforementioned crossbow trick. I lost complete track of Crom in the thick of a group of monsters I was trying to stab so many times that I eventually stopped keeping count. I topped out at 23.

While the camera can shoulder a good bit of the blame for that, Bloodforge's monochromatic art style doesn't do much to differentiate what's on screen, either. Crom's sole defining feature is an animal skull he wears as a helmet. It's white-ish, which stands out a bit from the black and brown tatters he's draped in. Unfortunately, it doesn't stand out enough from the black and brown tatters every other character is draped in. When you're surrounded by a group, it's basically just a giant blob of black and brown with spurts of red popping up whenever something gets stabbed.

Look at the pretty color!

Even worse, you and your enemies barely stand out against the world which is, yup, you guessed it, frequently very black and/or grey. Usually each individual world will be tinged with a bit of green or blue or whatever to signify how totally different it is from the other worlds, but ultimately none of it pops. There are some decent character designs here (even if they do look ripped straight out of everything from modern Conan adaptations to Frank Miller's 300), but the entire game's color scheme is just too bland to make any of its halfway decent art stand out. I get that the game's artists were probably going for a kind of bleak stylishness, but it just doesn't work.

Look, it's not as if God of War is some wholly original property that doesn't crib from its own mechanical and narrative inspirations. But there's a difference between "inspired by" and "outright stolen from." Bloodforge falls squarely in the latter category, and to make matters worse, it can't even craft a halfway competent action game out of the myriad things it stole from much better action games. You can cobble together all the great ideas in the world, but if you haven't got a clue what to do with them, then all you're going to end up with is a creatively bankrupt mess like Bloodforge.

Alex Navarro on Google+
63 Comments
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Posted by Klei

Bummer. The visuals were really cool. Now make Bloodforge 2 playable and fun. Shouldn't be too hard.

Posted by tyler1285

Just don't make Bloodforge 2.

Posted by Napalm

So, Bloodforge II: Bloodforger confirmed?

Posted by Morningstar

Thanks for playing it so I dont have to =)

Posted by august

I never asked for this.

Posted by zombie2011

After Fez and Trials Evolution, they give us this turd.

Posted by AiurFlux

I tried to watch the Quick Look that Jeff and Brad did of this massive clusterfuck of diarrhea. Quite literally 7 minutes in I was on the verge of getting a massive headache because of the wobble cam. Kane and Lynch 2 did it as well, and all footage I saw of that game made me feel ill as well.

Why in the fuck do developers insist on making people ill shaky cams and limited FoV? The fuck is this?

Posted by UberExplodey
Posted by SpunkyHePanda

Can we get Alex his review caricature variants? He's earned them.

Posted by SuperSambo

On paper this game sounds terrible, and surely MS played it before pumping the 'Arcade Next' marketing money into it? Why was this not replaced with Fez, or Walking Dead?

Posted by SlightConfuse

this game looked ok from the quicklook,might pick iy up if it ever gets cheap.

Posted by Triumvir

I'm shocked! SHOCKED, I say!

Posted by Bgrngod

@Napalm: Nope, not yet. But they did manage to somehow confirm Bloodforge III: The Bloodforgiest already. Not sure how that works exactly.

Posted by Wampa1

@Bgrngod: Wouldn't that be Bloodforge with a Bloodvengeance? Followed By Live free or Bloodforge hard I'd imagine... I apologise.

Posted by JoeyRavn

I'm Crom, hear me roar.

Roaaar.

Posted by Jackel2072

i love how Alex's avatar never really changes. Good or bad Alex Navarro always wants to shoot something! 

Posted by Robopengy

I didn't think the QL looked too, too bad. There seemed to be enjoyable elements. I think I'll pick it up after I'm done with the Witcher 2 for a few hours of mindlessness.

Posted by chilibean_3

Saw the description for the review. Knew it was Alex. Alex you poor bastard. Turned into a review robot for mediocre to bad video games. Not much man left in that husk.

Posted by OneKillWonder_

I watched the QL for this, and while I am usually not one to judge games too harshly before playing them myself, this looks abysmal. Seriously, that goddamn camera was losing its mind every step of the way. Not to mention the combat looked really choppy and unsatisfying. I'm not sure what the appeal or purpose of a character action game is when it can't even get the core component of that entire genre to be any good.

Reading this review, I'm kind of shocked Alex even gave it 2 stars.

Posted by mabber36

the only reviews I read are alex's shitty game reviews

Posted by Feces_Pieces

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Thank you for playing this anal fissure of a game so that I don't have to.

Posted by aseddon130

what a shame, this kinda looked good but i was never gonna pay 1200 points for it.

Edited by Abendlaender

What I actually want to know is, how Crom's marriage was.

I mean seriously look at this guy and tell me looks doesn't like a loving husband and father. He seems so cromantic (sorry). I just want to see him come home after a long hard day of...whatever he did before, depositing his antler-skull, kiss his wife and scream his child to bed.

Posted by planetary

This reads like a one-star review. Was there anything redeeming about this game?

Posted by bybeach

Alex deserves a good game to review..give him Painkiller Reocurring EVIL. (Actually I am kind of enjoying it, but the game seems determined to start me off on a another lower difficulty for the next chapter..if I am understanding the page right).

Posted by LordKorax

Come on, man, how could you miss out on calling it "hackney-and-slash?"

Posted by darkjester74

This reads like a one star review. Oh well.

It has Alex in the by-line, so I already know its 2 stars or lower. ;-)

Posted by iAmJohn

@planetary said:

This reads like a one-star review. Was there anything redeeming about this game?

@darkjester74 said:

This reads like a one star review. Oh well.

It has Alex in the by-line, so I already know its 2 stars or lower. ;-)

God almighty, every fucking time there's a two-star review.

This game's problems outweigh its good qualities.

This game will make you wish you had died in a fire moments before turning it on.

The game is bad and has issues, but it is not broken, built on a horrid foundation or morally reprehensible. Why do you people care so much about whether or not it's a 2 or a 1?

Edited by shodan2020
Edited by DSale

I guess some people like black-and-brown 2-button smashers? I don't know who those people are, but I assume they exist. Other than the camera, the game doesn't look completely broken or totally unplayable, so yeah... 2 stars.

Posted by Nevi

The art design kinda reminded me of Slainé from 2000AD and I'm bummed it kinda sucks.

Edited by planetary

@iAmJohn said:

@planetary said:

This reads like a one-star review. Was there anything redeeming about this game?

@darkjester74 said:

This reads like a one star review. Oh well.

It has Alex in the by-line, so I already know its 2 stars or lower. ;-)

God almighty, every fucking time there's a two-star review.

This game's problems outweigh its good qualities.

This game will make you wish you had died in a fire moments before turning it on.

The game is bad and has issues, but it is not broken, built on a horrid foundation or morally reprehensible. Why do you people care so much about whether or not it's a 2 or a 1?

Thank you for quoting the relevant parts of the scale. Did you see Alex call attention to any good qualities? (The review is very well written, BTW. I just question how the score maps to the text.)

And I think we should care because (1) words mean things, and being precise matters, and (2) if your rating scale has two scores that basically mean the same thing to a chunk of the audience, then the scale is likely either broken, or not properly communicated.

Posted by UberExplodey

@shodan2020 said:

GARSHASP!

right on, brother.

Posted by spankingaddict

Alex , stop playing bad games ! :P

Online
Posted by DoctorWelch

The review score shoulda been more like NEGATIVE 1...amirite...guys?

Posted by Bass

What exactly are the redeeming features of this game? The review reads extremely negative, which is probably true. However, I'm pretty sure that a two star game is supposed to have some sort of appeal to someone. Does this appeal to anyone? Otherwise I see this as a 1-star review.

Posted by AndrewB

It was really unnecessary for God of War to spawn a new genre of God of War clones...

Posted by toots

serious question:

if GB does say one game review a week, why pick the most obvious turd out there?

Posted by AjayRaz

fun read as always, Alex

this line pretty much sums up one of the more major problems (out of many) in Ninja Gaiden 3

There is a huge difference between making an enemy tough and making an enemy a laborious chore to kill
Posted by TheDudeOfGaming

@toots said:

serious question:

if GB does say one game review a week, why pick the most obvious turd out there?

Cause it's fun to hate!

Posted by Enigma777

I'm not trying to say that Bloodforge is not a bad game. From what I've heard and seen, it's atrocious.

However, this is a terrible review. Alex, you should be ashamed of yourself. If you didn't want to review the game, don't review the fucking game!

Posted by Mumrik

@Enigma777 said:

I'm not trying to say that Bloodforge is not a bad game. From what I've heard and seen, it's atrocious.

However, this is a terrible review. Alex, you should be ashamed of yourself. If you didn't want to review the game, don't review the fucking game!

I don't think that is how reviewer jobs work.

Most of what he says seems fair judging from what the Quicklook showed.

Posted by Dark_Lord_Spam

Just the mention of this game is making me a little woozy.

Posted by Scotto

@Enigma777 said:

I'm not trying to say that Bloodforge is not a bad game. From what I've heard and seen, it's atrocious.

However, this is a terrible review. Alex, you should be ashamed of yourself. If you didn't want to review the game, don't review the fucking game!

Which part should he be ashamed of? Reviewing a game he didn't like?

These guys review games they don't want to play all the time. It's a job, not a hobby. Alex does a good job of humorously going down the laundry list of problems with this shitty game.

Posted by Live2bRighteous

@AiurFlux:

BTW, Kane and Lynch 2 has an option to turn off the shakey cam. If you haven't tried the game out yet, turning the steady cam on can help with that :P

Posted by buffaloseven

I'm just glad Alex answered the question I left in the QL.

Who asked for this game? Nobody.

Posted by DS23

@SpunkyHePanda said:

Can we get Alex his review caricature variants? He's earned them.

Gonna have to second/Amen this. C'mon, son(s).

Posted by UnrealDP

@Enigma777 said:

I'm not trying to say that Bloodforge is not a bad game. From what I've heard and seen, it's atrocious.

However, this is a terrible review. Alex, you should be ashamed of yourself. If you didn't want to review the game, don't review the fucking game!

Dude, what about this review is shameful? You're saying the game is atrocious, but going 2/5 stars is too far? It's like you're forgetting that things in this world are subjective. Maybe you're on the high end of the scale when it comes to peoples ranging opinions about Bloodforge, here. Keep your mind open, amigo. Ugh...

Posted by Chris2KLee

Would love to see the meeting where this game got green lit.

Posted by DarkidRising

@UnrealDP: Whilst I think the review reads fine, the point Enigma777 was probably making was that he/she considers the review to be badly written, not that the review score is incorrect. There is a significant difference in these criticisms. Furthermore, , you are correct, reviewing games is their job and not a hobby, so the review content should be significantly more professional and informative than the musings of a hobbyist - Enigma777 is perfectly entitled to expect more from the written content of a Giantbomb review.

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