reviews\ Oct 19, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Bloodrayne - GC - Review

Vampires.  Mutated beasts.  Angry Nazis.  And a sexy girl who can kill them all.  Is this another episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?  No, it's BloodRayne, Majesco and Terminal Reality's new action-packed third-person shooter.

Wait a minute...did I say shooter?  This game isn't just a shooter.  It's also a little bit of a slasher, but not in the vain of arcade games like Gauntlet Legends.  The gameplay is closer to Onimusha, Devil May Cry and, believe it or not, Max Payne.  There's the endless slashing element of Onimusha; Rayne's (the lead character) moves are undeniably cool; and the fast-paced weapon battles are incredibly exciting.  These three elements are blended together so perfectly that you may want to e-mail other game companies and say, "THIS is how you do it!"  Finally, a game developer has given us proof that two gameplay styles can be successfully merged into one spectacular game.

Both gameplay elements are presented in a simple, yet complex way.  The L button is used for all of your hand-to-hand attacks, and the R button is used to fire all of your weapons.  I know what you're thinking.  "How can two buttons be complex?"  It's what the game does with those two buttons (and the other buttons on the GameCube controller) that make BloodRayne so great.

Rayne seamlessly pulls off each attack as naturally as Mario jumps, as easily as Sonic spins.  Nothing feels wrong or out of place.  You can start a combo, slice and dice some enemies and begin firing your weapons at any time.  Regardless of where Rayne's hands are, she'll immediately fire, sending bullets in every direction.  Visually, this is by far the best part of the game.  No matter what you do, Rayne never moves in an unrealistic matter.  If you jump toward a door that can't be knocked down, Rayne will flip away from the door and roll backwards when she lands.  When running and jumping, Rayne lands into a roll, gets back and continues running.  There's nothing that stops you from doing what you want.  If nothing else, BloodRayne would deserve praise for its incredibly smooth gameplay.  Whereas most games are bogged down by some control issue(s), BloodRayne is enhanced by not having any at all.

Depending on the type of control scheme you choose, the camera may or may not be somewhat controllable.  The right analog stick can move the camera up and down, left and right, strafe or do nothing at all.  There were times when I wanted to be able to pan the camera around my character, but since the game almost always moves the camera in a play-friendly position (i.e., one that doesn't disrupt the game), it never became a problem.

BloodRayne packs an impressive arsenal of weapons (31 in all!), including grenades, pistols, shotguns, machineguns and an extremely powerful rocket launcher.  Rayne automatically targets the nearest opponents -- if you're using two weapons, you can target two enemies at once!  You collect and discard the weapons as you go along.  If an enemy has a weapon that you want, all you have to do is kill him to get it!  When the bullets run out, Rayne discards her weapons as if she were in a John Woo movie.  That's alright though, because she can always disarm another inept vampire to prove her superiority.

Physical attacks (that is, attacks made with Rayne's razor-sharp blades) are not only a blast to execute, but they are also the only way to fill your Rage meter.  The Rage meter is similar to any other "super-power" meter that you may be familiar with.  When full, Rayne can unleash her "rage," increasing her attack power and speed.  Her speed is so fast that the world around her appears to have slowed down (like in Jet Li's The One).

This is only one of Rayne's powers.  She can also slow down the world when not enraged, though it's not as effective.  After hanging out with Mynce (Rayne's friend and mentor) for a little while, she'll show you how to see enemies through walls.

One of the coolest things about the game is that there are no health recovery items.  To replenish Rayne's health, you must suck the blood of the Nazis, vampires and other mutated freaks.  While getting a bite to eat, Rayne can reposition her dinner and use it as a shield to block enemy fire.  Rayne carries around a handy harpoon, and when a tasty-looking human/creature isn't within her reach, she can use it to pull the enemy close, Scorpion (from Mortal Kombat)-style!  (I wish you could see the smile on my face as I wrote those last two sentences.)

Rayne has five regular and five Rage attack levels.  This isn't an RPG, but its level-up style is applied here: the more enemies that you kill, the faster your level will go up.  Each level adds an additional combo move, giving you up to five hits for both the regular and Rage combos (which can be performed very easily by pressing the L button five times).  You can continue pressing the L button even after the combo is finished to quickly launch another set of attacks.  In addition to the combo levels, new moves will be added to Rayne's list every now and then.

While it may look a little futuristic, BloodRayne's story takes place some time before World War II.  The Nazis aren't strong enough to take over the world alone, so they employ a plethora of super-natural creatures (vampires, giant spiders, mutated humans and other creepy, un-dead things) to do the dirty work for them.  We all remember what happened when Nobunaga Oda joined forces with the demons, right?  The outcome wasn't good.  Demons can't be controlled, and neither can these un-natural creatures.

Since Buffy hasn't been born yet, there's only one woman who has the power to take down the Nazis and save the world from permanent imprisonment: Agent BloodRayne.  Rayne is a half-breed: half-human, half-vampire.  Her vampire side exists only by satisfying its own needs (blood).  However, her human side is caring, and somewhat compassionate.  Deep down, she has a heart, and she doesn't want anyone to get killed unless she's really, really hungry.  But as gory and as violent as this game is, Rayne never sucks the blood of someone who isn't evil.

Other than that, there's not much else to the story.  Rayne will make a few clever remarks during the game's movie sequences, complete with voice-overs.  Speaking of which, Rayne's voice is actually good!  It matches her character pretty well, and the acting isn't bad at all.  The other characters' voices aren't as impressive, but you hardly hear them talk, so it's not worth complaining about.

There's so much that I have to say about this game that I honestly didn't know when to quit!  I urge every gamer to go out and buy/rent this game as soon as possible.  It is so incredibly entertaining that you will definitely not want to put it down.  You're guaranteed to love BloodRayne if you like Onimusha, Devil May Cry and/or Max Payne.  But even if you don't like those games, I still recommend that you play this BloodRayne.  It is the perfect example of what a third-person action game should be.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 9
BloodRayne packs an amazing amount of depth, challenge and excitement.  Terminal Reality might have just single-handedly saved the third-person action genre from extinction.  They took everything that's good about other action games, mixed them together and made a game that's just as entertaining!  I'm going to be playing this one for many months to come.

Graphics: 8 
Smooth animation, decent textures and nicely detailed characters make for one attractive game.

Sound: 7
While BloodRayne's voice acting is above average, the sound itself isn't overly complex.  The music does not match the outstanding gameplay, that's for sure, but the sound effects aren't too bad.

Difficulty: Medium
BloodRayne has three well-balanced difficulty levels (Easy, Medium and Hard), giving gamers of all skills a chance to reach out and bite someone.  For new players, there's an easy tutorial mode that quickly shows you how to perform all of the basic moves.  It only takes a couple of minutes, and is well worth your time if you don't like reading manuals.

Concept: 8.9 
Two words: stellar execution.  Anyone can come up with a great concept, but very few can turn that concept into a classic video game that's worth playing again and again.  Terminal Reality came up with a great concept, worked really hard and created a game that's like a good bag of potato chips: once you start eating, you won't stop until the bag's empty.

Overall: 8.8
Draining blood has never been so much fun!  Aside from Dante, the star of Devil May Cry, no other half-breed can compare to Rayne.  She's cool, she's tough and her moves are awesome.  More importantly, the gameplay is fabulous!


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