Buffy the Vampire Slayer impressions

We had the chance to see an early build of the game based on the popular TV show.

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Electronic Arts was showing a number of upcoming games at a recent press event, one of which was Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the Xbox. As far as storyline goes, the game takes place after the third season of the TV show and it's been designed to give players the feeling of playing through a lost episode. A number of characters from the show like Willow and Giles will be making appearances in the game to provide Buffy with valuable information, items, and power-ups. In some cases, Buffy will even be required to rescue these characters from the vampires, zombies, and other types of ghoulish creatures.

At its core, Buffy appears to be a straightforward third-person brawler with a few twists thrown in to take advantage of the license. Buffy can perform a wide-array of punch and kick combinations as her default attack, but there will be plenty of weapons (in the form of rakes, shovels, and stakes) for her to use as well. However, each weapon has a specific amount of energy that slowly drains whenever it makes contact with an enemy or with an object in the environment. Fortunately, when a shovel or rake snaps, it leaves a stake behind--this is particularly useful when fighting a vampire as it can be killed in a single if the player successfully drives the stake through its heart. There are also environmental stakes (or basically sharp objects) that can be used as a means for destroying vampires quickly.

In addition to basic combinations and weapons, Buffy also has access to special combinations that players can learn how to use by looking through the journal in the inventory screen. Whenever Buffy uses a special combination, it drains a portion of the meter located just above her health bar, but this meter is easily replenished by killing enemies and taking the colored orbs that they leave behind. The inventory screen also lets players combine weapons. For example, crossbow arrows can be combined with holywater to create a devastating attack that instantly kills any vampire that comes in contact with it. In fact, holy water can even be used on pools of regular water in the environment, creating another hazard for vampires.

Though we were only able to see the graveyard stage (EA plans to have 12 missions broken down into sub-missions), the level of detail in Buffy is pretty remarkable. Textures look clean and detailed, as did the character models of Buffy and various enemies. The death animation of the vampires was particularly impressive as it used the dissolving effect seen in the show where the skin burns off the bones just before they disappear. Moreover, zombies can actually lose individual limbs, and will even continue to attack Buffy without legs or arms if they're not completely destroyed.

We'll have more on Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the Xbox as it approaches its spring release.

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