BloodRayne 2 First Look

Rayne is back with a vengeance, curvier and deadlier than ever.

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2002's BloodRayne was an action game with bite. We mean that literally--it cast you as a female half-vampire (or "dhampir") named Rayne, who was working with a secret society of do-gooders to fight against the Nazis. It was an interesting premise, for sure, and it will soon be greatly extended in a new follow-up, appropriately titled BloodRayne 2. We recently got a look at the Xbox version of this upcoming sequel and were impressed by the direction developer Terminal Reality is taking with the franchise.

Rayne is back for more vampiric mayhem in BloodRayne 2.
Rayne is back for more vampiric mayhem in BloodRayne 2.

The new BloodRayne is set in the present day, and the dark storyline focuses on a rather sordid familial affair. It seems Rayne's vampire father has had enough of the mortal living, and so he has decided to bring about a "vampire apocalypse" that will effectively free the vampires of the world from their shackles and allow them to gain dominion. He'll do this with a device called "the shroud," which is designed to block out the sun and allow vampires to walk freely outside at any time. Rayne's bad dad has enlisted all of her siblings as generals in the new army he's building to accomplish his diabolical scheme, but she's having none of it. You will, of course, play as Rayne across 10 acts as you try to thwart your father's evil designs and save humanity.

Rayne was all about flexing her vampiric muscle in the last game, and BloodRayne 2 will take the bloody action to grisly new extremes. Rayne's basic fighting skills have gotten a major upgrade, chiefly in the form of a new combo system that will let her evade enemies and dish out attacks of her own by using stylish backflip and dodge maneuvers. You'll be able to attack high, middle, and low this time around; this makes for some interesting (and disturbing) dismemberments, as you can imagine. BloodRayne 2 also has a lock-on mechanic that will help you direct your attacks at the desired enemy, and, interestingly, your attacks will actually differ depending on whether you're locked on or simply fighting freely.

In addition to her blades, Rayne will have access to six basic firearm types, each of which will have at least one upgrade level. The original game had you looking for ammo for all of your various guns, but oddly enough, in BloodRayne 2 you'll use blood--always a plentiful resource--to reload your weapons. This frees you up from having to go on periodic ammo hunts, since you'll be feeding on enemies often enough just to restore your health. Speaking of sucking blood, Rayne will be able to chomp down on enemies in a few stylish new ways in the new game, such as when she grabs them from behind and goes for the jugular in an over-the-shoulder fashion.

Rayne's character model is far more detailed this time around.
Rayne's character model is far more detailed this time around.
Her, uh, backside has been similarly
Her, uh, backside has been similarly "enhanced."

You won't start the game off with all of your vampiric powers--rather, you'll be able to upgrade Rayne's abilities as you bite and slash your way through the enemy hordes. As you defeat some dhampirs, your combo moves will be enhanced. For instance, after one upgrade you'll be able to fire your weapons in between back handsprings. You'll also have a number of "bloodlust" abilities that you'll gain throughout the game, some of which you may remember from the first game. The aura vision ability, for instance, gives you a bright white view that highlights enemies and special areas, while dilated perception slows down time and lets you get the jump on enemies. A new ability called ghost feed lets Rayne send a ghostly projection of herself flying at an enemy so she can feed on his blood from afar. These new abilities are separated into three levels, and you'll pick them up off and on as you proceed through the game.

Rayne's harpoon weapon will also come into play in new ways this time around. Previously, she could only use it to reel enemies toward her for easier munching. That ability will still be present, but you'll also be able to use the harpoon to whip enemies from side to side, into walls or killing contraptions. The harpoon will also come in handy when you want to manipulate certain features of the environment against your foes--we saw one instance where Rayne used the weapon to pull down a giant pallet on top of a row of enemies. In fact, you'll be able to interact with a lot more things in the background than in the previous game. This interactivity will especially come into play when you encounter one of what Terminal Reality refers to as the "killing puzzles." These puzzles require you to use your surroundings--and several unwitting opponents--to solve some sort of problem. For instance, you'll be able to exit from one seemingly inescapable room only after knocking enough enemies through a giant spinning fan, which will jam it up and subsequently destroy it, clearing a path for you to flee through.

If you think Rayne sounds pretty capable already, just wait--she's got even more abilities at her disposal. The team is incorporating a lot of Prince of Persia-style acrobatic mechanics, such as climbing and swinging on horizontal and vertical poles. Unlike the prince, however, Rayne will retain her shooting abilities while she's attached to these poles, so you'll hardly be a sitting duck when you're trying to reach higher places. She'll also be able to slide across some rails, and again she'll be able to fight with her guns and her blades while she's doing so.

Terminal Reality is striving to improve the gameplay in every way over that of the original game.
Terminal Reality is striving to improve the gameplay in every way over that of the original game.

Terminal Reality is making some really noteworthy graphical improvements to BloodRayne's sequel. The character of Rayne herself is getting a lot of attention--her new model has about 1,000 more polygons than in the previous game, and she's been made more sleek and voluptuous and generally been given more personality. The environments have gotten more interesting, too, with a lot of attention paid to making Rayne's surroundings fit the sinister tone of the series. Indeed, the few environments we saw had a cohesive design with a macabre feel that seemed to match the character of Rayne. Whereas the first game used only hand animation, the characters in the new game will use motion-captured animation, and what we saw of this had a much more lifelike, fluid look. The graphics engine itself seems to have received a substantial upgrade, too, offering up some impressive lighting effects that gave the backgrounds more character than in the last game.

From what we saw today, it seems like Terminal Reality is really pulling out all the stops to address the criticisms of the first BloodRayne and make a sequel that's superior in every way to that game. It looks like BloodRayne 2 will have a lot more depth and a lot more to do--and it'll have some replay value too, thanks to extras like unlockable costumes, new difficulty modes that let you replay the game with all your powers, and arena areas that simply let you take on tons of enemies at once. We're told that BloodRayne 2 will have a substantial presence at E3 in May, and we'll bring you more on the game leading up to that time.

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