Hands-onBloodRayne

We take a look at the Xbox version of Terminal Reality's upcoming action game.

We recently had a chance to play BloodRayne, Terminal Reality and Majesco's third-person action game set on pre-World War II Earth. The game puts you in the role of Agent BloodRayne, a half-human, half-vampire covert operative who works for some sort of all-knowing secret society. She has a bunch of cool killing skills at her disposal, and we were able to sample them quite a bit at our recent demo.

We got to see a couple of environments when the game was demonstrated to us. Most of our demo was set in a Nazi military installation that was populated by all sorts of furniture and had banners hanging from the ceiling. There were also more than a couple of stationary tanks in the room, though we were assured that they will be quite mobile and active, once the level is fully scripted. We must say that we were extremely impressed with how well the game ran and how great it looked--the textures were super clear and detailed, the animations were fairly smooth, and the frame rate was impressively consistent for a game that's in a pre-alpha state. Small touches abound as well. If you walk through a banner that's hanging from the ceiling, it'll shift about when your body makes contact with it. And if you slash at it, you'll see tears form where your blade made contact with it. This particular effect wasn't fully in place when we saw it (square-shaped holes actually appeared), but we were assured that it would ultimately look a whole lot more realistic. In any event, the fact that it was physically mapped in the first place is quite impressive.

BloodRayne herself has a bunch of cool abilities that were already executable in the build we saw. Moving her is quite simple--the scheme is identical to what you've encountered in modern console FPS games, in which you control the character with the left stick and position the camera with the right. If you got used to the way Max Payne controlled on the Xbox, then you'll feel right at home. BloodRayne can also jump and flip off walls. The latter maneuver is a bit tricky to execute, and Terminal Reality admitted that it was still on the drawing board, so to speak. The way it works now, though, seems to function pretty well, once you get accustomed to it. Basically, Rayne's trajectory will shift a little bit after performing the move, which sometimes causes her to miss a wall directly opposite of the one that she bounded from. So while this works well in C-shaped or entirely round vertical chambers, its applications outside of this are a bit more limited. But as we've mentioned, DE is currently in the process of tweaking this mechanic, so expect for the particulars of this to change.

Most of Rayne's coolest abilities definitely revolve around combat, though. Firstly, she has a handful of vampiric powers that you can use to your advantage--things like a Max Payne-style slowing of time, the ability to enter a "blood rage," and superhuman vision (for more precise aim), among other things. You activate most of these by calling up the appropriate menu or pressing the D-pad input the ability is mapped to. Blood rage, though, is also activated automatically when you feed on enough enemies. Though you regain lost health by feeding on the blood of your enemies, you also gradually fill a meter that, once full, greatly strengthens the power of your attacks. And you don't have to wait until your enemies are dead to feed on them, either--if you press the appropriate button, Rayne will either pounce on her enemy (if close enough) or literally bring them to her by means of a Scorpion-style blade-tipped chord. Your default weapons are a pair of twin blades that Rayne wields to pretty deadly effect. She's also more than proficient in wielding the firearms that the German soldiers drop in decent numbers as you defeat them. All told, Rayne can carry two weapons at once, and, more often than not, she can discharge them both simultaneously at single or multiple targets. You'll be able to see the weapons she's currently carrying (they're actually modeled on her person), so deciding whether or not to drop stuff in lieu of other stuff should seldom be a complicated process.

We were quite impressed with what we saw overall, both in terms of visual polish and design, as well as the game's potential for intense, quick-paced gameplay. The enemy AI is also pretty sharp, at this point--enemies would run away when appropriate and attack you en masse in quite vicious ways. We'll have more for you on this one very soon

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