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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Mucky Foot

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q3 2002

 

 

- Lots of action

- Does some of small stuff with great style

- Blade's world is fully realized

 

 

- Control bites

- Bizarre sword limitation

- Lots of repetition

- Lacks fun

 

 

Review: Blade II (XBox)

 

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Blade II

Score: 5.0 / 10

 

Blade, one of the cooler Marvel Comics characters, get his second videogame to coincide with the release of Blade II on DVD and VHS.  And it’s too damn bad he has yet to score a “must play” incarnation.  Blade II (B2), the game, suffers from poor controls, insufferable repetition, and a decided lack of fun.

 

blade-2-ps2-1.jpg (20063 bytes)          blade-2-ps2-2.jpg (18150 bytes)

 

I don’t like to slag any game.  I don’t revel in saying that a company has given up 18 months of their lives to create a game that’s less than “good” and flopping somewhere just below “average.”  It may be my Canadian nature of trying to be nice, playing fair and looking for the silver lining.  But it’s the duty of every reviewer to be honest with the reader about a game – whether it is bad or good.  It’s not that I put much weight on my own opinion.  I’m sure there aren’t any developers out there losing sleep wondering if I’ll like their new game.

 

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B2 is simply “blah!”  The main culprit is mix of wonky control and a bizarre limitation, but I’ll go over the limitation first.

 

 

Blade himself features a sword strapped to his back.  No, he can’t use it.  At least not whenever he wants to.  He has to wait until his Rage meter is built up before he can unsheathe his mighty weapon and hack vampires and other ne’er-do-wells to bits.  This makes zero sense.  If I’ve got a big sword strapped to my back and I’m being rushed by a 

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gang of six vampires, I’m going to use the friggin’ sword – Rage meter be damned!  If the sword could have been used on a consistent basis I would have been able to draw more comparisons with Obi-Wan (XB), but as B2 is, I can draw some comparisons with Blood Omen 2 (BO2).

 

But I’m jumping ahead of myself – I was going to talk about the control.

 

I can classify the whole control scheme as poor.  Most of the action has Blade going hand-to-hand with gangs of bad guys and the method of kicking and punching is horrendous.  One stick controls Blade’s basic movement while the other functions as his attack “button.”   This really does work in games like Smash TV, Hunter: The Reckoning (XB), or Robotron, but it fails here.  B2 has quite an “old school” influence, with never-ending baddies to crush, so what the hell happened to button mashing?  Blade can execute combos but it’s incredibly difficult to get them working properly because you can’t button mash anything.  You’re stuck with pressing “up” then “up” then “down”, spacing each with a split second pause.  It turns pure action into a methodical exercise.  Then there is the plethora of other attack options available – some useless and some not fully realized.

 

blade-2-ps2-3.jpg (22534 bytes)          blade-2-ps2-4.jpg (24491 bytes)

 

Blade can jump.  Yipee!  But using it as an attack strategy is wasted.  Plus, with all his half-vampire enhanced abilities, shouldn’t he be able to jump higher?

 

The glaive – a vampire decapitating boomerang – should have just been eliminated or at least relegated to power-up.  It does come in handy, maybe once.  The problem is that it takes a moment to charge-up and during that time Blade can’t move, leaving him open to attack from behind (or left or right) and eliminating the charge built on the glaive.  And 10 times out of 10 Blade will get hit before he has a chance to actually throw it.  If it’s a boomerang why can’t it just be thrown?  Last time I threw a boomerang I didn’t have to charge it up.

 

The other ranged weapons don’t do much to increase the action but there are instances of magic moments.  Blasting an oil barrel from across the screen results in a satisfying explosion – taking out any undead creatures along the way.  The UV grenade – bad sunburns are proven to kill vampires – is a satisfying weapon but it’s just not around enough.

 

Before each level starts you have a chance to equip Blade with weapons and ammo.  Not all the equipment is available from the start – most of them must be unlocked by meeting a set score (by killing vampires, collecting glyphs, etc.).

 

The design and objectives of each level are of the classic variety: kill everything, protect this guy, flip this switch, open this door.  This is similar to BO2 but B2 lacks a good story – this time centering around a possible link between organized crime and the Vampire Nation (or something) – and it doesn’t follow the movie.  It’s not as interesting as BO2’s complicated characters and their motivations.

 

Something the two games share is the repetitious nature of some aspects.  There are a few “fatality” moves where Blade gets even more up close and personal. (Q: What’s the shortest route to vampire’s heart? A: Through the top of its head.)  Emphasis on few.  They happen again and again, which is much like watching Kain suck blood in BO2.  It loses any shock value, especially when there are only a few catchphrases to accompany it that are repeated to death.  Most annoying is when Blade is in a location that puts the camera behind a solid object.  Then you get a gruesome snippet of a cutscene that can’t be skipped or seen.

 

blade-2-ps2-5.jpg (23936 bytes)          blade-2-ps2-6.jpg (20584 bytes)

 

Graphically, it’s a slight cut below the Xbox version.  You really have to work to notice much in the way of differences.  On it’s own, I don’t have anything against B2's graphics.  In fact, it’s a real highlight as Mucky Foot has thrown in lots of small details.  Hacking off limbs with the sword, the way the vampires evaporate into dust, interacting with the environments, etc.  It brings Blades world to life – too bad it’s such a pain in the ass to get around.

 

And if you think I've used more than enough curse words during the course of this review, blame B2.  It's extremely potty-mouthed -- especially Whistler, Blade's trainer and buddy.

 

Ultimately, Blade II can’t be recommended to anyone other than die-hard Blade II fans and even some of them will be turned off by the clunky control, repetition, and lack of real fun.  To its credit, Blade II is loaded with action across all of its levels – but the fun is totally blocked by the controls, which could have been streamlined.

 

- Omni

(October 3, 2002)

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