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Score: 8.6 / 10
Letís be perfectly clear about two things:
the original BloodRayne sucked and its sequel BloodRayne 2 sucks even
more. Because Rayne is a half-vampire femme fatale, the sucking is
definitely a good thing.
BloodRayne 2 (BR2) picks up many years after the events in the original
as Rayne uncovers a vampire plot to hold the world in eternal darkness
and farm extremely fat humans so thereís always plenty of blood to go
around. With the help of the super secret Brimstone Society, Rayne
hacks, dismembers, and slices her way though the opposition to
ostensibly ďSAVE THE WORLD!Ē What BR2 lacks in
storytelling it more than makes up for in
the action department.
For the most part, the original gameís shortcomings have been addressed
in BR2. The camera still isnít great but the control over it feels more
precise; some inconsistencies have been ironed out; the endless cycle of
picking up guns has been dropped; and thereís decidedly more strategy
involved this time around. For an action game, strategy
usually comes to whom to kill first. There is still that aspect but when
faced with bunches of enemies some kind of strategy is in order. Rayne
has far more options available to her than previously, like rail sliding
and interacting with the environment to create some serious chaos.
Even at the point of feeding there are constant decisions to be made.
Suctioning blood from enemies is the only way to keep Rayneís health bar
stacked but Rayneís stock Dhampir Guns also need blood to keep the ammo
up and if Rayne wants to use some of her cooler moves like Super-Speed
and Ghost Feed she has to keep her Rage meter up. To keep that bar
filled Rayne has to perform brutal fatality moves. The regular slicing
and dicing with Rayneís massive gauntlet blades produces quite a bit of
gore with seemingly random lobotomies, torso separations and limb
removals keeping the blood constantly sloshing around the screen, but
enact a fatality and really watch the gibs fly (particularly when using
Dilated Perception when it can be seen in slow motion).
There is also a role-playing element similar to the Hunter: The
Reckoning series. As Rayne earns Carnage points by solving killing
puzzles on impaling enemies on handily-placed sharp objects in the
environment. Once the Carnage meter is maxed out Rayneís Rage and Health
meters increase in capacity. Itís similar for Rayneís guns Ė the more
she uses them, the more proficient and deadly they become. Itís possible
to proceed through the game without an eye on boosting these stats, but
itís a lot easier if you do.
In a not so obvious way, all this addresses another issue many had with
the original: the tedium that set in feeding all the time. With so many
options available and constant re-evaluations about the situation I
didnít feel the creep of boredom even if most of the enemies are
pushovers (at least early on).
Thanks to the new game engine, BR2 is a visual feast. Itís an extremely
graphic and brutal game but thereís a sense of due care and attention to
everything is much improved, particularly Rayneís harpoon that can be
used to hurl enemies onto sharp objects, into fans, off ledges, or into
each other. Rayne also has some new moves, which mostly amount to
acrobatic stunts to navigate levels (and even then Rayneís ready to
attack at a momentís notice). The graphics engine is excellent, even
with the occasional clipping problem, but I canít say the same of the
audio, which is evenly spread between good and not-so-good. During the
cinematics and CG cinematics is good but during the action some sound
effects are way louder than they need to be or donít match with the
action on-screen. (Someone yelling, ďMy arm!Ē when youíve just clipped
his head off doesnít work. And come to think of it, how does he yell
without a head?) The subtle effects still come through though, like
Rayneís soft panting as she feeds.
BloodRayne 2 will please fans of the original and bring back those that
game the original short shrift because of its problems. Clearly, the
developers listened to the complaints and critiques and made a better
game, and is a good example of what every sequel should strive for Ė to
outdo the original. Itís definitely not without its faults but
BloodRayne 2 is a title worth playing.