Review by Daltone



Graphics: 6

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 6.5

Overall: 6

BloodRayne is a game with a premise that intrigued me from the start. It was touted to contain two of my favorite Video Gaming themes - vampires and hectic gun play. However, mediocre reviews and somewhat bland screenshots put me off from buying it brand new, so I waited until the price dropped before picking it up. Overall, I'm rather glad I hesitated.

The game opens in 1932 with a cutscene giving you the back-story - you are Rayne, a half-human half-vampire crossbreed called a Dhampir, recruited by the mysterious Brimstone Society to deal with supernatural threats. The plot takes you from the swamps of Louisiana to Argentina and finally to Germany in your attempt to stop the Nazis from harnessing the power of a great evil linked with the sunken city of Atlantis. Sure, it's not going to win any awards, but it provides an interesting backdrop for the game to take place on.

You first take control of Rayne in Louisiana in what is basically a training mission. Guided by fellow Dhampir Mynce you are introduced to the main mechanics of the game. At first Rayne seems to move too fast and jump too high to give a comfortable feeling of precision. The combat feels ungainly as you repeatedly pull the "L" trigger and hope to connect with the brain-dead foes. Then, after about half an hour, it clicks. There's no other way to describe it - within the space of about 20 seconds I went from hating the controls to loving them. I realized the controlling Rayne is all about excess. Jumps that once seemed uncomfortable are suddenly made majestic as you glide hundreds of feet through the air.

A sick pleasure can be taken from darting in and out of groups of enemies lopping off limbs and cleaving heads as you go while Rayne dispenses a (limited) number of one-liners. Once you've got the hang of the basics, the more advanced moves come naturally. "X" causes you to leap onto an enemy and feed, restoring your own life in the process. "Y" puts you into a berserk bloodlust where time slows and you do masses of damage. "B" flips you round 180 making killing those pesky foes that turn up behind you less of a chore. " A" jumps, and pressing it twice causes a horizontal corkscrew attack - useful for breaking down walls. Finally, "R" will fire any guns you're carrying (up to two can be used at a time.) As you progress through the game you gain extra abilities such as a variety of vision modes (notably an Aliens Vs Predator-esque aura sensing mode and the ability to shift into bullet-time.) a chain to skewer your prey and a special non-bloodlust attack.

So far, so good. Unfortunately, things don't stay that way for long.

The levels themselves never rise above the generic, despite best the efforts of the designers it would seem. The half flooded Louisiana setting is hamstrung by some awful texture work and the excessive use of life draining water (running or holy water I could understand, but all water?) to force a challenge into the game. The German bases are collections of drab corridors and re-used rooms whilst the Temple section of the game seems to have been heavily influenced by Alien Vs Predator (again.)

The puzzles are usually simplistic hit the switch or collected the item affairs , which in one sense is a good thing as it stops them distracting from the genuinely satisfying gunplay. You are always pointed in the right direction by your radar, meaning that brain can be shifted into neutral.

The action its self, while fun, is for the most part a tad on the easy side. Most fights are swift and bloody affairs with any hits incurred by you usually being the result of the slightly suspect hand-to-hand collision detection. The only part that caused me any major frustration was the section entitled "Temple Guardians" which frankly seemed unfair. Killing all three of the tough as nails creatures seems to require more luck than skill as the auto aiming has some serious issues. Regardless of the great salivating 6 armed monstrosity bearing down on you it will decide to point your guns in the direction of some smaller, yet closer, creature. Luckily this is only a problem at a few points during play - most often when you're trying to use heavy weapons (such as the rocket launcher) and need to make sure you aim at the right thing.

The graphics on show are a mixed bag. Rayne is beautifully textured and pretty well animated to boot. Everything else, with the exception of the occasional 'special' character, seems to be bland and, as my brother put it, "very PS2" in comparison. This is especially noticeable whenever Rayne feeds on another character and the camera moves up close. The lighting effects, though sparse, are pretty impressive too, as is the Battle Royale influenced cut away to a photograph being stamped and the character's name and rank coming up whenever you kill an officer . Special mention goes to the bizarre breast physics on display. During cut scenes they'll occasionally start bouncing up and down as if the earth had violently shook.

Sound wise - the effects are good, as is Rayne's voice acting. Some of the German accents are a bit off, but it doesn't hurt the game. Music is, for the most part, absent. When it is there it's of the quiet non-offensive techno variety.

Despite the cool premise, BloodRayne never manages to quite fulfill its potential. It's not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination and is definitely worth a look if you can find it at a reduced price. There is a sequel being made now. If it manages to fix the problems of the first game we could well have an action classic on a level with Max Payne on our hands.


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Last updated: Sunday, March 28, 2004 07:13 AM