Camp EA 2002: Hands-onBuffy the Vampire Slayer

We got a chance to play a near-final version of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer for the Xbox at Camp EA today and have returned with hands-on impressions.

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Electronic Arts is calling the game a "lost episode" from the TV series' third season, so characters such as The Master make an appearance and Buffy's relationship with the vampire Spike is much less friendly than it is these days. The supporting cast members, who are voiced by the actors and actresses who portray them in the series (although Sarah Michelle Gellar notably does not voice Buffy), appear in story sequences and provide tips and special items at key points in the game. The script and dialogue seem very well done and reflect the smart-alecky tone of the TV show.

The main four buttons on the controller map to punch, kick, jump, and stake, the two shoulder buttons are used to pull off some of the game's many fighting combos, and the select button is used to pull up items such as the crossbow (which can be aimed using a first-person camera view). The hand-to-hand combat in the game was very fun, at least in the half an hour we spent playing it. Time will tell if the combat remains entertaining throughout the entire game, which EA reps mark as taking roughly thirty hours to complete for casual players and eighteen to twenty for more dedicated gamers.

Without a doubt, the real area where Buffy really shines is in its graphics. It's a great looking game, with clear, crisp graphics, excellent character models, and great explosions and fire effects. The game definitely doesn't look like it was originally planned for the PlayStation and Dreamcast, although it was.

Buffy: The Vampire Slayer is headed to the Xbox in late August, and it's looking like it'll turn out pretty well.

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