Preview

Captain Blood Preview (Xbox360)

There are some things in life that defy logic. Spelbound's body-contorting Britain's Got Talent victory, David Haye overcoming an ogre-faced giant, and a developer's decision to send out bug-ridden code. Captain Blood's gaming lifespan has already stretched across two generations without seeing the light of day, so when our hands-on unveiled a number of poor design choices, the disappointment quickly set in.

Ship. Cannon. Ship. Cannon.

That's not to say there isn't potential in Captain Blood. It's universe, based around a trio of novels, captures all of the necessities that make a pirate tale so compelling. Daring sword fights, frantic sea battles, and enough treasure to make all that time in a cramped ship seem worthwhile. The Captain himself is on a quest for redemption, after being charged with treason and sent out as a slave, before escaping and re-branding himself with the lead title. Unfortunately, in a showcase year for the hack and slash genre, it takes more than a decent premise to receive praise.

The Captain isn't a dislikeable fellow by any means. Blood, aided by his trusty ally Jeremy Pitt, gets what he wants through force. Unfortunately, this force amounts to an on-screen translation of a family food fight, as it feels like you're softly checking how tender your foes are by poking them with a fork, rather than chopping through their limbs with any real power. We've been spoilt with huge combos that rip through entire groups of enemies in titles such as God of War III, but here everything feels so weak and ineffective. Even against larger opponents, completely going to town on their torso's feels like it should leave them with a close-knit shave rather than life-threatening injuries. To make it worse, the hierarchy of your enemies is so obvious and so contrived, that you'll wade through entire groups without ever manually attacking. The execution button does all the work and removes any skill from the game whatsoever.

The further we got with Captain Blood, the more errors we started to find. The much-feared pirate wields a huge pistol to take down foes, but without any kind of targeting system, this is often rendered useless. You have to fire and hope your gun is pointing towards an enemy pirate, or else you become open to counter-attack. Certain sections also allow you to take control of Pitt, Captain Blood's faster, sleeker and completely stolen side-kick. It's almost disrespectful to Ubisoft that developers 1C Company have plagiarised the stylised 2009 Prince of Persia character design well beyond showing admiration; more like a child copying in an exam. We ploughed through a boss section with this character, and were underwhelmed when predictable QTE's were brought into play to make the action more 'exciting.' Needless to say, it's been done bigger, better, and with more imagination many times before.

Boom! Headshot

With gripes hindering this latest showing, it may come as a surprise that some entertainment can be found when the game changes pace. Manning the cannons of the ship you so deftly hi-jacked and unleashing a barrage of fire on invading Spanish pirates is great fun. Your cannon balls rip through their sales, sending the incoming ships off course and prone to further attack. A few well-placed shots and they'll flounder on the surface before plummeting to the depths below. With the vibrant Caribbean water acting as their grave, this level provided a hint of beauty that wasn't available elsewhere in our time with the game. In fact, the visual appearance from this later level looked like it was the 360 version, while previous sections could have passed for the originally planned Xbox title.

Anyone who steps out to sea with Captain Blood should expect a simple, no-frills adventure. There's a decent amount of upgrades to improve your physical moves or your arsenal, and the script never takes itself too seriously as you battle against anyone who steps in your way. At this early stage, aside from the glaring bugs, animations are not smooth and need to be ironed out if they're going to make the combat seem worthwhile. It's not acceptable to have your character complete a move, stop, complete another, stop again, and continue. For this to have any chance of making an impact players will want to see a free-flowing battle system against characters who don't arrive simply wearing red or blue coats to determine how tough they are. With such lazy design, it's almost as intelligently implemented as the red and blue coats of Butlins, in that, any moron could do it.

Hmm... now that you mention it, he does look familiar

It's difficult to understand how Captain Blood has made it this far. Nearly six years ago the game was announced, so somebody out there still believes it's a good idea. At this stage, this title features long periods of dull action that's intermittently broken up with a flash of excitement. It must be reiterated this was still early code, but how many chances can a game get before it's classed as a sinking ship?

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Comments

By BoneArc (SI Elite) on Jul 26, 2010
BoneArc
if i have time i will pick it up , nothing special though