Unfortunately, the gameplay in BloodRayne is every bit as derivative as the plot.
Terminal Reality has somehow made a boring game featuring a sexy vampire, buckets of blood, and Nazis. BloodRayne may feature the va-va-voomiest bloodsucker in gaming, George Romero-style gore that includes lots of decapitations, and everyone's favorite goose-stepping bad guys, but gameplay is so predictable that you'll be stifling yawns even as you tear open jugulars.
The story isn't going to win any awards for originality, either. You play as Rayne, a half-vampire (otherwise known as a dhampir) working in the 1930s for the secretive Brimstone Society. It has taken the sultry young lady under its wing and turned her into agent BloodRayne, a warrior helping the organization protect humanity from creepy things that go bump in the night. She's also got a bone to pick with evil Nazis searching for arcane artifacts and with her long-lost vampire father, who started her not-so-happy family.
Sound familiar? Rayne is really just a female version of Blade, the Marvel Comics vampire hunter popularized in the movie series starring Wesley Snipes. The Brimstone Society angle varies only slightly from Terminal Reality's 1999 effort, Nocturne, which was also set in the pre-World War II era and featured a US government agency of paranormal investigators called Spookhouse. The antiquity-hunting Nazis have been borrowed from Raiders of the Lost Ark. And Rayne herself is the stereotypical game babe, complete with a heaving bosom and buns of steel that would cause Lara Croft to throw an envious look her way.
Of course, you don't need an original story to make a great game. But, unfortunately, the gameplay in BloodRayne is every bit as derivative as the plot. This is a stock action adventure game, with a strong emphasis on action and lots of jumping challenges involving Rayne's deadliest foe, water. Levels are of the "kill these enemies, then kill those" variety where you plug away from point A to point B, with an occasional series of leaps to point C. Puzzles involve little more than finding the occasional object or figuring out that you have to knock down a wall in order to move forward.
The settings are equally uninspired. You visit just three places over the course of your Nazi smashing--the Louisiana bayou, rural Argentina, and rustic Germany. Each comes with just a few different levels, so you can wrap up play in well under 10 hours (there is no multiplayer mode). Your investigations take you to a castle, a swamp, a temple, a laboratory, and even a military barracks. The only thing that's missing is a sewer. Nothing really stands out, though little touches like the moon shimmering over water and lightning flashing in the background leave everything feeling somewhat creepy.
Showers of bloody gore are all that really make BloodRayne stand out from mundane action adventure games like the more recent releases in the Tomb Raider series. Rayne butchers her way through the opposition, employing more than two dozen weapons to slice and dice her mutant, mutant spider, Nazi, demon, cultist, and vampire foes. The in-game armory includes precision pistols, shotguns that can make ne'er-do-wells explode in a gooey mess, and more intimate devices like Rayne's harpoon (which can pull victims to her much like Scorpion's spear in the Mortal Kombat series) and her huge wrist blades. Get going with the latter duo and you can flat-out shred enemies, going so far as to cut off limbs and heads.
Yet all this carnage isn't very interesting. The limited novelty in being a killing machine wears off after you discover that there is little to do aside from plowing ahead and clicking buttons. And the control system is awkward with either a mouse-and-keyboard combo or with a gamepad, particularly because the camera never seems to give a good angle on the action. Jumping puzzle sequences can be absolutely maddening, as you can never quite nail your landings.