Genre : Action
Developer: Terminal Reality
Release Date: October 12, 2004
The original BloodRayne is kind of a guilty pleasure for me. It’s the kind of B-movie plot beerslam that appeals to me: a redheaded dhampir fights Nazis and demons. It doesn’t do anything particularly well – the combat’s mostly button-mashing, the boss fights are nearly impossible without cheat codes, the platforming’s a lot harder than it should be – but BloodRayne had enough style that I could overlook a lot of its flaws. It’s amazing what I’ll forgive in a game that sticks an unarmed Nazi in a hidden closet as a “health powerup,” or makes a dismemberment check every time Rayne hits an enemy to see if she lops off part of his anatomy.
Now BloodRayne 2 is here, and it’s being accompanied by the kind of mixed-media blitz that you don’t see much of anymore. Rayne’ll be showing off her breasts in a faintly pathetic Playboy pictorial, there’s an independent comic book coming out in December, and Uwe Boll is currently figuring out how best to screw up a BloodRayne movie, starring Kristanna Loken as Rayne.
Usually, when a publisher is trying this hard, it means they’re doing their level best to make damned sure that no one pays any attention to the game itself. BloodRayne 2 doesn’t have that problem, thankfully; it’s a gory, unapologetically exploitative action game that looks and plays like the world’s best straight-to-video movie.
I mean that as a compliment, by the way. BloodRayne 2 does almost nothing that’s really new; when it comes out, it’s going to get kicked up and down the street for a lack of innovation.
It’s a lot more fun than the original game, but there’s a bit of everything in here. BloodRayne 2 features flagpole acrobatics, bullet time, dystopian cityscapes, random explosives, location-dependent fatalities, sadistic “killing puzzles,” mounted machine guns that you can seize control of, lots of people getting chucked into spinning fan blades, and a moveslist of various combinations with several unlockable moves. If it’s an innovation that some other action game has introduced in the last couple of years, it’s in BloodRayne 2.
Rayne herself has undergone a makeover. She looks a lot better, even on the PS2 version (and sounds just as good; Laura Bailey is still voicing Rayne), and the animation’s gotten more complex. Instead of simply dropping an exsanguinated victim, she flips off his chest and knocks him away. Rayne’s lost her weird-looking dive kick, but replaced it with a variety of combinations. Instead of flailing madly at an enemy, you can now tear into them with three- to six-hit combos with predetermined endings; one may end in a vicious circle slash, while another involves mule-kicking an armed opponent so hard that he drops his weapon. The main draw of the first game returns here, in that hitting an enemy with a blade still carries a random chance of instantly dismembering them.
Her harpoon’s also been improved. Instead of a simple fishing line, it’s now a sort of chain whip. An enemy hit with it can be slung in whatever direction she wants, which usually means tossing them into or onto something fatal: a trash compactor, a fireplace, a running turbine.
The biggest changes to the gameplay may be fatalities and guns. When feeding on an enemy, Rayne can hit the slash, kick, or fire buttons to finish them off in up to six different ways. Grab an enemy and hit slash, and Rayne’ll impale him before punching his head off; if you got him from behind, she’ll remove his head and arms before neatly slicing the unfortunate thug down the middle.
Performing fatalities fills Rayne’s rage meter, the points in which can be spent on her blood rage powerup, which improves the damage of her melee attacks, or the new super speed option, which lets you rush in and attack enemies before they have the chance to react to your presence. The super speed’s particularly good for attacking machine-gun nests, since by the time the gunner realizes you’re there you’re already behind him, or jumping long distances.
The gunfire fatalities also refill Rayne’s guns. Instead of just grabbing whatever was lying around, Rayne’s taken to carrying her own pistols. They also run on human blood; when you use her gunfire fatalities, Rayne jams the pistols’ barrels into her enemy’s face and sucks all their blood out. Somehow, this gives you more ammo. I’m trying not to think about it.
Rayne won’t be using her new talents to fight Nazis anymore. At the end of BloodRayne, she was about to go find and kill her father Kagan, the vampire who raped her mother. When BloodRayne 2 opens, it’s several decades later, after Kagan’s death; the story of Rayne vs. Kagan is apparently being saved for the movie.
Rayne still works for the Brimstone Society, and with her partner Severin, she’s still hunting vampires. An early mission in BloodRayne 2 involves chasing down a trio of dhampir and their gang, who’re moving slaves through the sewers of an American city. If she lives long enough, Rayne will eventually face off against her surviving brothers and sisters, Kagan’s other children, who have a plot to cover the world in permanent darkness.
I’m a bit disappointed with the decision to set BloodRayne 2 in the modern day, but the game looks and plays well enough. It’s addressed many of the real problems the first BloodRayne had, and it’s a pretty good time into the bargain. It’s not for the weak of stomach, but if you’re looking for a decent action game, BloodRayne 2 delivers.
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