Publisher: Vivendi Universal
Developer: Eurocom Entertainment
Release Date: August 29, 2003
A little over a year ago, EA games released Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the Xbox console. The developers, The Collective, did a great job in bringing the TV show to life in a video game, something that really surprised a lot of people, due to the long, long list of TV and movie game titles that have failed to capture the show/movie's essence. The Collective was able to capture not only the look, but also the feel of the show, and the end result was a game that Buffy fans and any 3rd person action fan would enjoy. This time around, Buffy has new publisher and developer handling the game, so will they be able to duplicate the magic that The Collective did? It is a bit difficult to fully answer that question based on this build, but so far things are looking very good.
Much like the first Xbox game, Chaos Bleeds is being labeled as a "lost episode" from the show, which should give developer Eurocom Entertainment a little more freedom in the game design. The game's time frame puts it in the 5th season of the show and falls between episodes 17 and 18. In hoping to add even more realism to the game, many of the actors from the show provided their own voices for the game, with the exception of Sarah Michelle Gellar though. As in the first game, Buffy's voice will be handled by Giselle Loren, who did a fine job the first time around.
Chaos Bleeds features a lot of the same environments that fans of the show know and love, as well as some new ones, to spice things up. You will visit a total of approximately 15 locations throughout the game, and you will have to revisit some locales later in the game in order to complete missions. The levels are modeled extremely well and very closely resemble their real-life counterparts. The level design itself, although a bit on the simple side, does work well with the action. Chaos Bleeds offers six playable characters from the show: Faith, Spike, Willow, Xander, Sid the dummy, and of course, Buffy herself. You don't actually get to "choose" which of the characters you want to play as, since the game switches from one to the other as the story unfolds. Naturally, you mainly play as Buffy. Each of the character models is very well done, and their facial features and expressions look very realistic. Overall, even in this build, the graphics look strong. This is a multiplatform title, and that being said, its graphics will not blow you away. Compared to other Xbox titles, some of the game's textures and lighting are pretty plain, but overall the graphics look nice. Also, the Xbox version does look quite a bit sharper than the GameCube and PS2 versions of the game. While the frame rate does have a few drops here and there, it is running at a blazing 60 FPS and should be locked to that in the final build.
The gameplay in Chaos Bleeds plays along the lines of the first one, which is a good thing, but adds much more overall. This time around, you will be able to play as 6 different people instead of just Buffy. There are also many more moves in the game now, with some character-specific moves from the show. Almost everything in the game can be used as a weapon of some sort. You see a chair, you can use it. A table? Done. The interesting thing is that most of your weapons will deteriorate as you use them and eventually cease to work or exist. For example, using a chair as a weapon will be fine, after a few uses, you will only have part of it remaining, until all that is left is a simple stake with which to attack your enemies. Leaving weapons behind is not a smart thing to do, as vampires and other weird creatures are able to pick up your own weaponry and use it against you. In this build, the combat system works well, as does the magic system. Speaking of magic, Willow is the only character who can sort of make "progress" throughout the game, as she finds new and more powerful spells, whereas the other characters merely find new weapons that can be used by all.
The controls handle the hand to hand combat well, and fighting multiple enemies at once is not a problem and makes for some fun fight scenes that closely match the ones on the TV show. The only big problem in this build is the camera system. You are able to control the camera as well as have it follow you from behind as you move around. Right now, the camera does a poor job of keeping the action in view, and oftentimes will focus solely on your characters and not the pending bad guys, who are charging right at you. Adjusting the camera manually is even worse, as it tends to spin out of control, and just getting it to point in the right direction is a chore. That is a little worrisome since manually controlling the cam is even worse than the fixed camera system. Again, this is an build, and the camera system, especially in a 3rd person game, is usually one of the last things to be fully optimized and tweaked.
The final version of Chaos Bleeds will also feature a multiplayer portion with four different modes: survival, bunny catcher, slayer challenge and domination (king of the hill variant). Unfortunately, our build did not have this included yet so we were unable to test those out.
Overall, Chaos Bleeds is a good-looking, fun playing game. The combat system is very good, and the story is also very deep and sure to please fans of the show. While 60% of the game is action, around 40% is puzzle solving, which also gives the game balance and a nice break from the action. This time around, the puzzles are much more complex than in the first one, so they will really make you use your head. If Eurocom can iron out the camera system, Chaos Bleeds will be a great title for fans of the series and action games alike. Be sure to stay tuned to WorthPlaying for a full review of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds, coming soon ....
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