Developer : Terminal Reality
Release Date : June 30, 2003
There are plenty of vampire hunting games around. Just look at the long-running Castlevania series, or the recent Buffy: The Vampire Slayer release. When it comes to games where you actually play a vampire, however, there aren't too many of those. When it comes to memorable games where you play as a vampire ... well, there really aren't many at all. BloodRayne hopes to change that.
You play the part of BloodRayne, a sexy vampire who wears tight, form-fitting clothing and carries a huge blade on each wrist. Technically, you're a half-vampire. The other half of you is human, and I suppose that's the explanation for all of the kick-ass moves you can pull off. You'll be able to kick all sorts of undead, freak insect, and Nazi terrorist butt with an assortment of guns, jumps, kicks, and of course, blade handiwork. Doing it all has never been so easy.
The only problem is this: you can pretty much unleash all of the cool, devastating moves by tapping the mouse button rapidly. Combat usually consists of running up to the target, mashing away at the mouse buttons, and retreating for a few moments before going back in. It can get a little tiresome after a while, and the braindead AI doesn't help. Admittedly, zombies and freak Nazis probably aren't very smart, but they never really present much of a challenge.
That's not to say that it ruins the game. There are a lot of other cool things you can do, and while none of them are usually necessary, they're always available. You can make Rayne perform a gravity-defying spinning kick by simply tapping the jump button after she's already in the air. This can be useful for breaking weakened walls or simply extending the length of a jump. She can also use any of the guns she finds (including revolvers, rifles, shotguns, AK47's, and more), and while you usually don't have a lot of ammo at your disposal, they really do pack a punch. Additionally, Rayne carries a nifty little grappling hook so she can pull enemies closer to her before beating them to a pulp or sucking their blood. Sucking blood is also pretty important; if you're low on health, you can replenish some of it by finding a quality human body near you.
Rayne can also utilize the nifty "Blood Rage" ability whenever her Rage meter is full. Turning on Blood Rage makes Rayne super strong, slowing down everything around her while she unleashes a flurry of attacks. Blood Rage is an excellent way to dispose of bosses and other tough creatures, but Rayne can also turn on various "visions" at any point. One makes everything turn blue but points out your main goal as well as notifying you of any nearby enemies a la heat detection. Another makes everything slow down, much like when Blood Rage is enabled. Messing with these visions can be a whole lot of fun.
The whole game has a very old-school feel to it. You know how in older NES games, when you had to go through all of the levels and beat all of the bosses, but you were never required to do half of the things that were possible, as long as you got the job done. That's how BloodRayne can be. Even though the enemies are stupid, the level goals are never all that innovative, and the puzzles are never too challenging, you just have a really good time playing the game and figuring out cool ways to take out enemies with your large repertoire of moves.
The game is split up into several main locations, from a small French town to secret Nazi organizations, but each of these locations are split into smaller levels. Usually, each level focuses on a region such as a graveyard or a building. Sometimes you simply have to find the exit in a level, but other times you'll have to find keys or defeat certain enemies before moving on. The quality of the level design seems to range from "good" to "all right," as some of the levels have a drab, boring look, with plain architecture, but others are well-designed and contain clever elements.
The graphics aren't bad by any means. All of the characters are extremely stylish and well-detailed (even adorned with, ahem, bouncy physics), and animation is as smooth as butter. The cut scenes are a little hokey, but for the most part, they work. All of the enemies look super cool, and some of them are really hideous - I was actually pretty frightened the first time a huge, deformed bug climbed up through the ground two feet away from me. The environments themselves are well-detailed, and while it seems a lot of textures and models were reused throughout the game, they're always put to good use.
The sound has a few flaws, but is good overall. The background music will satisfy, with its gritty, gothic feel. The sound effects are also fine; whether you're hearing the clicking of footsteps over a wooden floor or the "slurp" sound of a head being decapitated, it always sounds lovely. The voice acting is a little weak, though. While the voices fit perfectly, I really question the dialogue - some of it is really lame, and it just sounds bad hearing the voice actors say it. It's more of a fault of the writers than the actual actors. I don't think you'll need to worry about turning up the stereo while playing this, though, as the good does outweigh the bad.
Overall, BloodRayne is a good adventure with a few flaws. The enemy AI is pretty dull. The combat can be boring unless you take it upon yourself to mix it up, and while that can be done easily enough, you never really have to put any of Rayne's cool abilities to work, which is a bit disappointing in itself. Some of the level design is pretty good, while some of it is merely okay. The graphics and sound are pretty solid, though. I had quite a bit of fun with BloodRayne, being able to use all of Rayne's cool abilities and progressing through the neat environments. While the game certainly isn't perfect, it is certainly above-average. Don't hesitate to check it out if you're interested.
Score : 7.0/10
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