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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Majesco

 

Developer

Terminal Reality

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

October 11, 2002

 

 

- Great amount of graphical detail
- Solid control
- Fast and furious (and gory) action
- Different “sights” are extremely useful

 

 

- Glass-like doors that can only be opened one way
- Some repetition
- More level variety please

 

 

Review: Enclave (XBox)

Review: Hunter: The Reckoning (XBox)

Review: Vampire Rain (360)

 

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BloodRayne

Score: 8.4 / 10

 

bloodrayne-1.jpg (24247 bytes)          bloodrayne-2.jpg (25040 bytes)

 

The last half-vampire game I played was Blade II and in more ways than one BloodRayne (BR) hits the jugular far better than Blade II. But first…

It’s the time between WWI and WWII and a group called the Brimstone Society recruits a shapely half-vampire known as Agent BloodRayne to help protect humanity from supernatural threats. In short order (after level 1), she’s sent to investigate gaming’s standby villains, the Nazis, who are searching out occult artifacts. It’s Agent BloodRayne against the Nazi horde…

The one-woman army approach is used to good effect here, considering how powerful Rayne is (and becomes). Swarmed by a group of five Nazis? Not a problem. Soon they’ll be trying to figure out where their arms and legs are. (If the

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phrase, “It slices! It dices!” runs through your mind, rest assured you’re not the only one.)

Rayne has a good assortment of moves, both ranged and melee. The emphasis is definitely one close combat – not a stretch considering the blades on her wrists and her particular dietary requirements. Although there is an extensive roster of guns – from the Panzershrek Rocket Launcher to the 22G33

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Assault Rifle (all fictional) – they’re mostly fire and forget. Basically, don’t worry about ammo conservation. Spraying a room with machine gun fire has its uses (and is occasionally necessary) but once you run out of ammo it’s a simple matter of offing another baddie (or breaking open a crate or gun cabinet) to acquire another set of guns. No, as I said, Rayne works best up close and personal.

Being a half-vampire has its perks and some of them include being able to jump incredibly high, run along telephone wires, and view the world four different ways. Even if you never use a gun, you’ll be able to get through quite a chunk of BR thanks to those worldviews.

 

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The first is normal view, the other three are Extruded (like a sniper mode), Dilated Perception, and Aura Sense. I found myself slipping into Dilated Perception partly because it looks cool but mostly because it’s arguably the most useful. Those familiar with Max Payne’s bullet-time feature will be right at home, but Rayne has the advantage of being able to enter this mode whenever and for however long she wants. Aura Sense helps Rayne get a bearing on level exits and boss locations, plus enemy health – if they’re red, get ready to suck and replenish your own health. Then there is the devastating Blood Rage, an attack that becomes available when Rayne’s rage meter is maxed out and activated. (Single Rage Attacks can be executed if the meter is high enough.) Not only does everything slow down as with Dilated Perception, Rayne moves faster and puts her blades into acrobatic overdrive. All but the most powerful enemies are reduced to giblets.

Managing all this action is quite easy with the left stick moving Rayne forward and back, strafing left and right, while the right stick controls the right/left movement and up/down look. The left trigger activates Rayne’s melee attacks and the left trigger gets the guns going. All the other buttons are mapped out well. On top of that, it’s the control is responsive!

In the presentation department – Yowza! It’s the small touches here that bring BR up a notch or two. Practically everything can be destroyed or marked up. This is no more evident than a confrontation between Rayne and a Nazi “priest” in a battle reminiscent of The Matrix’s lobby scene. There are other points of interest, especially the character skins and models – most notably Rayne’s “uniform” that looks like something stolen from Frank N. Furter’s wardrobe. (There are quite a few movie and game references including Raiders of the Lost Ark and No One Lives Forever with an off-color joke about a cross-eyed bull.) With all the slow-motion features you get ample opportunity to get a good look at everything. The animation is also good. Not quite as impressive is the audio but even that manages to shine on occasion. At its worse, BR’s sound is unbalanced or spotty – music too loud while voices are soft (on defaults), gunshots that are repeated with no discernable source – but at its best, you get disembodied voices that taunt Rayne or Rayne’s soft pleasurable moans as she mounts some hapless mutated Nazi goon.

 

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Enemy intelligence still relies on swarming, rushing at you with guns blazing. But to be fair, often they’ll pull the alarm first to call for back-up or run away if they’re really getting hammered. There are other enemies that stay at a distance firing away. This can create some interesting maneuvers as Rayne takes on nearby enemies while evading hostile fire. (The ability to use your victims as shields while feeding is a great asset.) However, this can also lead to enemies killing each other (including higher ranking officers) before Rayne gets the chance.

So why, with all this, does BloodRayne fall somewhat short?

For one, there is only one way to crash though a door: by jumping and performing a corkscrew move. In one case this fact led to much frustration. Most doors will open upon walking into them, some are locked, one-way doors, or activated by a switch. It’s the doors that don’t fall into these categories that need to be kicked in. Slashing it with Rayne’s blades – even during a full-on rage attack – might leave a scratch. Unloading her entire arsenal, including a couple of grenades, won’t budge the door. But give it a flying kick and it shatters like glass! It’s inconsistencies like this that drive me crazy. (Not just with BR but with games in general.)

BR takes a few cues from Max Payne and unfortunately, one of these is game length. Even starting from the beginning of the last area you saved in doesn’t add much to play time (minus any aimless backtracking). And most of the game takes place in one location, which can start to feel a little “samey” – even though I like the chance to tackle challenges in the order I wanted. But also like Max Payne, BR is fun while it lasts and it has enough style to make it worth revisiting.

I don’t know the life expectancy of half-vampires, but it’s almost a given that we’ll see a sequel (or prequel). And that’s a good thing. BloodRayne may have its faults but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.

- Omni
(October 30, 2002)

 

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