Blood Wake represents
the Xbox's first offering to the vehicular
combat genre. Read on to find out if it makes
the grade in our detailed review.
A wonderful thing about Microsoft
and its (now) vast power in the gaming industry
is that they've got unthinkable resources
to attain developers and games. One of the
things that a lot of people love about Microsoft's
game selection for its new system is the
abundance of exclusive material which has
found its way onto the Xbox. The newest game
that will attempt to grace your friendly,
neighborhood Xbox comes in the form of Blood
Stormfront Studios is the developer
who first came to Microsoft with the idea
for a vehicular combat game that takes place
on water. The story goes that Microsoft was
looking for a game that shows off the Xbox's
ability to render incredibly realistic water
effects while still pumping out some very
quick frames per second. This idea evolved
into what is now known now as Blood Wake.
"... Blood Wake is a truly excellent Xbox game."
It is clear the moment that
Blood Wake boots up that a ton of time was
spent on making the game look as polished
and visually stunning as possible. The water
featured in the game is easily the best you
will ever seen on a console. You can go ahead
and throw out Wave Race: Blue Storm and Splashdown
once you've seen Blood Wake. You won't be
going back any time soon. The incredible
amount of bump mapping that was allotted
to the water is truly a sight to behold,
and is a true sign of the next generation
nature of the game.
Another aspect of Blood Wake's
visuals that will absolutely floor you is
the boats, both enemy and friendly. You'll
notice scratches on the bow and stern, you'll
see nuts and bolts, which are holding the
boat together, and you'll even bear witness
to the very pistons of the engine hard at
work propelling you through the gorgeous
ocean blue. Other graphical details include
ships sinking to the bottom after you've
pummeled them with a mixture of lead and
Despite the graphical prowess
of the ocean, the other graphics in the game
seem to take a bit of a hit thanks to the
water's beauty. Sadly, the land and terrain
featured in the game come off as a bit muddy
and drab. The textures of the land don't
seem to come off as polished as the other
visuals in the game. Thankfully, the overall
graphical vision of the game remains intact
and truly flexes some bonafide Xbox muscle.
"... an amazing looking, and an even better playing, Xbox game."
The weather effects that are
packed into the game are also something that
are completely new to console gaming, at
least in execution. You'll see the storm
overhead dictating the motion of the water
beneath you and your ship will react accordingly
to each forthcoming wave. You'll see crackling
lightning along with serene sunsets, both
of which will reflect light off of the water
The physics Blood Wake are definitely
some of the most realistic seen on a console
to date. With every explosion comes an expanding
ripple effect that will affect the motion
of your boat whether you are stationary or
racing forward, or backward for that matter.
Turning in the waters of Blood Wake certainly
takes some practice due to the realistic
movements of the bow and stern of your boats.
No arcade physics here.
The game's story is broken up
into 28 action packed missions. These vary
from recon, escort, search and destroy, search
and capture, and a plethora of other objectives.
Each will help you venture deeper and deeper
into the story of Blood Wake. The basis for
the story centers on you, Shao Kai, a former
soldier for the Northern League until one
day you are attacked by your evil, older
brother and thrown from your ship [What a
jerk. - Ed]. Your nearly dead body is then
dragged aboard one of Ped Zeng's patrol boats
and this is where the story begins.
From that moment on Ped Zeng
undertakes you as his right hand man and
teaches you the tricks of the pirate's trade.
You are now a member of the Shadow Clan,
a group of freedom-loving pirates who live
on trading, smuggling, and outright piracy.
Their main target comes in the form of the
Jade Kingdom, headed up by Lord Sri Brana.
Throughout the game you'll have the opportunity
to fight against, and alongside the Jade
Kingdom. Their ships are relatively slow
and under-armed but they for then make up
for it with sheer numbers. The last remaining
faction in Blood Wake comes in the form of
the evil Iron Empire headed by your evil
brother, Shao Lung. The Iron Empire was recently
an overshadowed faction of the Jade Kingdom
has now emerged into power under the sinister
leadership of your brother.
Throughout Blood Wake's story
you'll see alliances form and break and key
characters rise and ultimately fall into
a cold watery grave. Your character will
slowly work his way up the ranks until ultimately
taking command of one of the three factions.
Which one? Go get Blood Wake to find out.
There are plenty of twists included in the
game, which make the story quite engrossing
for an action title. Sadly the story is conveyed
through poorly constructed illustrations.
Some FMV would have really gone a long way
in the story aspect of Blood Wake.
The controls of the game are
a bit cumbersome at first but after spending
a bit of time with the game they'll become
second nature. Personally, I found the default
controls to be too difficult to maneuver
the ship so went with the second default
option which allows for the R trigger to
act as the propulsion for your boat rather
then the preset left thumb stick. Thankfully
the game comes complete with a total of six
preset controller configurations, although
there are really only three as each pair
has the option to vibrate or not to vibrate.
Sadly, it doesn't make much
of a difference whether you choose whether
or not to vibrate, as Stormfront made very
poor use of the rumble capabilities of the
Xbox controller. Drilling a few enemy ships
full of machine gun bullets should obviously
cause some serious ruckus inside your beloved
controller, but sadly the only rumble that
you'll find is when an enemy strikes you
or you run aground. With all of the motion
that the waters of Blood Wake can throw at
you, you'd think that Stormfront could have
taken the time to add in some force feedback
into the fray.
The audio portion of Blood Wake
is a mixed bag. Certain aspects will have
you engrossed in gameplay, while other will
begin to grate on you. The music in the game
certainly gets you ready to slaughter some
pirate scum-buckets. Very well put together
rock and roll ballads accompanied by some
very well placed techno beats add a ton to
the gameplay of Blood Wake.
"The physics Blood Wake are definitely some of the most realistic seen on a console
Sadly the voice acting featured
in the game does not stay true to form. Your
shipmate will start to get on your nerves
beginning in the third mission and it just
gets worse from there. The weapon effects
in the game are a bit puzzling, as the mighty
torpedoes don't make the expected whizzing
sound as they glide through the water. In
fact you've got take struggle to hear any
weapons other then the trusty machine gun.
Some more water sound effects would have
been greatly appreciated, as it stands there
aren't very many crashing waves, even during
the most powerful of storms. As it stands,
the auditory assault that the game should
create isn't quite there, although it does
a nice job of getting the adrenaline going
with some nice tunes.
As the story progresses and
your character slowly rises up the chain
of command, the boats that you command will
slowly begin to rise in their level of prestige
(and abilities). You'll begin with a lowly
speedboat and will end up utilizing the talents
of the prestigious hydroplane. Throughout
your journey new classes for each boat will
be unlocked which means new weapons.
The weapons system doesn't exactly
stay true to the vehicular combat genre,
as you aren't able to equip your boat with
any new armaments once you enter the water.
You can collect ammunition however, which
will pump up the number of rounds you have
for each weapon. Rather than searching aimlessly
for a much needed, more powerful weapon,
you'll spend much more time strategizing
their next attack. A pleasant surprise that
adds to the enjoyment of the game, and keeps
the game more grounded in its reality.
Unlike Twisted Metal and other
games of the genre, health and ammunition
power ups will not be present in the waters
of Blood Wake unless you earn it. You'll
be forced to kill enemy ships to earn powerups,
and it depends on the difficulty of the enemy
ship how many ammo or health power ups you
attain. Take for instance a battle ship,
it will allot you plenty of each type of
power up, whereas a sampan (an easy kill)
may only you get one or two power ups. I
found the system to be a treat to play around
with as I'd spend most of my time sinking
medium sized boats to get some much needed
power ups and then trying to tackle the tougher
The multiplayer of Blood Wake
provides the gamer with tons of fun after
you've completed the single player portion
of the game. You'll be offered a host of
options from fighting against bots or with
bots in a few well-chosen modes. You'll get
to play standard deathmatch, survival mode,
team deathmatch, and a few other modes that
need to be unlocked to be played. You'll
start with a fairly slim selection of boats
and arenas and you'll have to complete certain
objectives, such as completing a level on
a certain difficulty level to attain the
desired options. The various game modes in
multiplayer as well as the inclusion of enemy
boats as playable characters adds a lot of
fun to the overall fun of the multiplayer
mode. The inclusion of bots and an altogether
excellent multiplayer mode adds a lot of
depth to Blood Wake.
As a first generation vehicular
combat title, Blood Wake certainly scores
a big hit for the Xbox however, the absence
of cooperative play and link play is a bit
disheartening. Maybe Stormfront can add in
those much-needed features for the second
Blood Wake, but as it stands we are left
with an amazing looking, and an even better
playing, Xbox game.
Would love to drive a devil boat.
Stormfront hit one out of the park with their first attempt
on the Xbox, which is something that is proving to be
quite difficult for first time, Xbox developers (of which
there are so many). With an amazingly good-looking package
and an incredibly fun game in both the single and multiplayer
modes, Blood Wake is a truly excellent Xbox game.