Thresh's comments in BLACK
Kenn's comments in BLUE
Upon starting the game, the very first thing I noticed was the amount of polish (now that's a word I'm using more and more for shooters these days) and detail put into the game. The intro was a nicely rendered animation with a delightfully sinister voice-over, to set the dark, brooding mood of the game. When I first started playing, I definitely noticed how the game eases inexperienced gamers into the tricks and traps of the trade. Mission update boxes chime and pop up with a tap of the Tab key, at first informing me of possible jumps to be made, secrets which might exist, and basic navigation/puzzle solving tips. Later on, it's updated with new objectives and goals, in a manner similar to Quake II's navigation computer or Sin's Mission Status box, constantly keeping the player "in the loop, so to speak.
When it comes to Monolith, it's all about action, fast action. Starting up Blood 2, I first thought I was in Turbo mode. After playing the slow-down game with Quake II, Unreal, and Half Life, it was a big shock for me to be scoot around at a Doom pace, jump as high as Duke Nukem, and have almost the same in-air control (misleadingly labeled air acceleration) as ROTT. At times it was awkward - trying to make all the precision jumps and small movements Quake and Half Life required were almost guaranteed overshoots or over-corrections, but after a little time in the saddle, it was hard to go back to a more "moderately-paced" game.
There are three obvious things which make up a good amount of any single-player game - the level design, the enemies, and the plot integration. Blood II's got 'em all. Now let's talk about whether or not they work. ;) I thought the levels were well-done, but generally not exceptional. The LithTech engine is pretty good at rendering large, outdoors areas and nice, multi-layered sky, so you inevitably see a lot of that. 16-bit rendering and textures also help in depicting varied, realistic levels. Maps include sewer systems, laboratories, warehouses, ancient cities, and more. Blood 2 does have its architectural moments, though. One of my favorites is on the CAS Revenant, a huge airship sailing through the sky. Above you are clouds and the night sky, thousands of feet below are countless city blocks.
Fear of heights?