BloodRayne 2 Hands-On

The vampire hunter Rayne is back in action in BloodRayne 2.

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After debuting on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 in October, BloodRayne 2 will ship for the PC early next year. The sequel to the 2002 action game BloodRayne, this title follows the continued adventures of Rayne, the half-human, half-vampire vampire hunter. The original game was set during the 1930s and 1940s, amid the background of World War II. The sequel picks up in the modern day, as Rayne continues to hunt down the half-vampire hybrids that her vampire father (whom she dealt with in the original game) spawned all around the world.

Rayne looks better than ever, and you can even admire the curvature of her spine.
Rayne looks better than ever, and you can even admire the curvature of her spine.

We were able to play only the opening levels of the PC game, but it feels like this will be a fairly straightforward port from the console versions. The control scheme has been adapted so that you'll use the keyboard to move and access Rayne's special powers, while the mouse controls the camera. The traditional WASD system allows you to move Rayne, but you'll need to tap other keys in certain combinations to execute combo attacks.

In the first mission we played, Rayne had to battle her way into a European mansion to eliminate one of her siblings. Her enemies were goth-looking henchmen and henchwomen, some of whom were armed with melee weapons and firearms. Our vampire huntress still relies on a mixture of melee weapons and gunplay to deal with the undead. Her primary weapons, aside from her martial-arts skills, are the blades attached to her forearms. With these, she can slice and dice through the opposition, and the results can be a bit grisly at times as body parts fly. She can also draw upon a pair of vampire firearms that are fueled by blood. Whenever fired, they drain their blood reservoir, and if the reservoir empties, they'll start to drain Rayne's own blood supply. The solution to this problem, of course, is to feed on enemies. By hitting the "e" key, you'll cause her to leap onto an enemy, bite into his or her neck, and then drain him or her of blood. As soon as the target is drained, Rayne executes a flying dropkick to dispose of her victim, and then she's ready for action once again.

Another neat new weapon that Rayne has at her disposal is a harpoon attached to a chain. Using the harpoon, you can spear an opponent, and then give the chain a tug, much like you would with a whip. With a little practice, you can use this technique to hurl enemies in different directions. Of course, the game will give you plenty of places to hurl them to, such as raging fireplaces and the sharp horns of an animal head mounted on a wall. This is a handy way to dispose of tougher enemies, or to quickly whittle down numbers if Rayne is outnumbered, which she usually is.

Rayne also has several vampire powers, such as blood rage, which increases the power of her attacks; a special vision aura that has the ability to detect hidden objects; and a time dilution effect that works much like the slow-motion effects from The Matrix. These really came into play when we battled an early boss--a fellow vampire-human hybrid. By using blood rage, Rayne was able to inflict increased damage. Meanwhile, if you lock on to an enemy, Rayne can dance all around him or her, leaping quickly to the side to attack from the flanks. Indeed, the easiest way to defeat this formidable opponent is to avoid his powerful frontal attack by hitting him from behind.

As you can probably tell (and as she likes to boast), Rayne is a bit of an acrobat. Not only does she have some martial-arts moves, such as some fancy spin kicks, but there will also be moments in the game when you'll have to use her acrobatic abilities to reach certain places. For example, she can twirl on a bar to build up momentum, and then leap for a higher bar. She can climb up pipes and back flip onto platforms below. Rayne also has the ability to "grind" down cables and banisters, slicing enemies with her blades along the way.

Her special vision aura lets her detect hidden objects, and it also highlights enemies.
Her special vision aura lets her detect hidden objects, and it also highlights enemies.

In terms of graphics, the PC version does look a bit sharper than the console versions, thanks to the increased resolution. However, it does not appear as if the textures have been improved by any significant measure. Still, the game does feature some neat graphical effects, most notably in the fact that Rayne probably has the best back definition of a video game character to date--you can practically count the vertebrae in her spinal column. Rayne continues to look quite the vampire vixen, and the environments she battles in are detailed and full of destructible objects.

The final version of the game will offer more than 30 melee combos, as well as 12 finishing moves. Meanwhile, the experience system will also allow you to upgrade Rayne's weapons and abilities. The game looks to be on track, and we can expect BloodRayne 2 to ship for the PC early next year.

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