Gaming is, of course, no different. For ages vampires have been in games, either as heroes (The Legacy Of Kain) or as villains (Castlevania), vampires are as integral to gaming as butter is to a damn fine omelette. I don't know why I said that. Terminal Reality, the creators of BloodRayne, decided that vampires need a new face in videogaming, and created a heroine, that, like Blade, is half-vampire, half-human.
Does it work? Or is it a knock-off of existing material?
Well, like most good things, it's a bit of both.
Rayne is a Dhampir, the offspring of the union between her vampire father and her human mother, a creature that is, as the game describes "A vampire with none of the weaknesses." She's super-fast, super-strong and super-violent. She's been travelling the world in search of her father, leaving a bloody trail of dead bodies in her wake.
The Brimstone Society, a secret conglomerate of experts who work together to bring investigate and cull supernatural activity, decide that a Dhampir would make a fine addition to their ranks, and take Rayne on. Now called Agent BloodRayne, she is sent on a mission to Louisiana to look for look into rumours of "mutants" in the swamps.
The game moves around the world, from Argentina to Germany, as Rayne searches for the source of the evil that goes down farther than she can ever imagine.
In the end, though, the story doesn't have much relevance on the gameplay, as it's just an excuse to mercilessly massacre Nazis by the bucketload, yay!
The guts of the game is killing and maiming the bad guys, and the game does it excellently. By tapping L a few times, you set off a combo of slash attacks that decimate enemies in their footsteps. If you don't want to get in close, you can fire off a few rounds at long range, and then reel them in to finish them off by drinking their blood. Either way, they end up the same way – dead. The environment is mostly destructible. I say mostly, in that any objects – beds, boxes, bookshelves, tables, chairs, curtains, lamps, alarms, games, doors, etc – can all be smashed to pieces, if the game so lets you. Walls are a different matter, but I suppose it wouldn't be a game without boundaries.
After cutting a few people up, your Bloodlust meter grows steadily larger, until you're able to set it off. By activating your Bloodlust, the game slows slightly, your moves become faster and you can fire off faster, more brutal moves to cut enemies to pieces. It's great fun to see a soldier explode into a shower of body parts after a satisfying execution of a combo.
As the game progresses, Rayne gets different visions to help her find her targets, kill them easier, and view her surroundings. Amongst the visions available is: Aura, a night-vision and target sensor that shows enemies as different colours dependant on their current status (aggressive, passive) and health; Dilated perception, a Matrix-style slow-mo mode that allows you to pick off enemies easier, dodge attacks, bullets, and navigate tricky terrain easier; Extruded view, a zoom-mode that allows you to sniper targets silently.
As Rayne is half-vampire, she can regain health by feeding on the blood of the living. This is also a handy way of shielding yourself from others attacks. When you latch onto an enemy's neck, you can spin them round, putting their body between you and the mass of bad guys, meaning that they take the bullets instead of you. This lowers their life, obviously, so you won't get as good a meal out of them, but it's better than nothing, most of the time.
The first few levels of the game are boring, the usual tutorial missions, easing you into the game and showing you Rayne's array of attacks and skills. They aren't the best looking, unfortunately, and, repeatedly, I felt myself thinking how the game wouldn't look out of place on the N64. However, the Louisiana levels are badly made, consisting mostly of water and walls that need to be broken down to proceed. This wouldn't be a problem, except that Dhampirs are susceptible to water. It causes them to, somehow, die. Thus, you spend most of the first levels sprinting about in water looking for a way to break down the wall in order to get into a house, only to die. Over. And over. And over.
Once you get past these teething problems, however, the game gets significantly better, as you just have free reign to terrorist Nazis for the rest of the game. And that's where the fun truly starts.
The game's difficulty spikes. The first few levels are hard, and then the boss battles are even harder. Then it kinda gets easy for a bit, and then the boss battles are hard again. It seems inconsistent to stroll happily through a level only to be brutally ripped to pieces by a boss. The different levels are laid out in sections. Whenever you move to a new section, you can save, and if you die, you start back to the start of that section. That's fair enough, but some sections may consist of three or four boss battles, so it's amazing if you make it out of all of them alive. It keeps your interest, however, and the game is addictive, so you want to complete this section, just to proceed. What would have been better though, was if they broke up the sections a bit, but then it might be too easy for some.
I want to verify this before I go on: almost everyone I've spoke to, and almost everything I've read about this game, end up mentioning one thing, and I want to get it out of the way quickly… Rayne is a female. These "females" have breasts. Rayne, like most females, too, has breasts. There we go now that that's out of the way, we can continue.
The graphics aren't bad. They aren't fantastic, ground-breaking, or will make you dive out of your seat in awe, but they do the job. The opening levels are incredibly murky, wherein there isn't much difference between the swamp waters and the actual land. The enemies look blocky, and wouldn't be out of place in the original Alone in the Dark. It's only later, when Rayne moves to Germany, that we fully see the power of the game. There, although the colour scheme changes only slightly from browns and greens to greys and blacks, the enemies improve greatly. Gone are the deformed mutants, and in are the Nazis, with their little moustaches.
The game, in the later stages, pushes the graphics hard, forcing dozens of enemies at you without a hint of slowdown. Although they are still, however, less than optimal, it's still better than the swamps. The cut-scenes, although badly choreographed, look decent enough. Rayne, as the main character, looks the best out of all, but the others, especially the bosses, try their hardest, and succeed, on most counts.
Rayne's alternate visions work nicely, bending the world in a different way, depending on whatever one you select.
The best thing about the graphics, however, is the gore. Once you're finished with a room filled with enemies, the floor, walls, everything, is simply covered with blood, body parts and dead bodies. If you chop off a guy's hand, he runs, screaming, spraying crimson in all directions. It makes each attack all the more satisfying when they let out three times their body weight in juice. Great fun.
The music is generally ambience. It's too low to register most of the time, but there's the usual rock-fighting music, creepy stalking music, and triumphant scores. Rayne spits out witty one-liners when she kills and attacks and the Nazi's banter with each other when they think you're not listening. They also scream orders at each other whilst you're attacking them, particularly when you're feeding on one, and he's barking "Get her off me!" Funny.
All in all, the voice acting is acceptable – not great enough to be worthy of an Oscar, especially considering that some scenes deserve more emotion, but not bad enough that we don't get a sense of each character. There's a bit of profanity in there, but nothing too rude, especially now that games like GTA: San Andreas have come out that were built on bad language and sexual references.
Everything you need to know is shown on-screen, including Rayne's health, Bloodlust meter, vision selected and the direction in which the current objectives are held. The only gripe is concerned with the ammo in the weapons. In order to check up on your ammo, you need to tap the Z button, but this automatically switches your weapons, so you could easily end up doing yourself an injury by throwing a grenade instead of shooting a shotgun, and that usually ends the game for you rather quickly. If the ammo were shown on-screen, it would be better. A minor gripe.
The in-game menus are all shown all old-movie-like and are very atmospheric and compliment the game excellently.
The controls are pretty simple. The direction pad changes the different visions, L slashes with your blades, R shoots your currently-equipped gun, A jumps, B activates your harpoon and lets you feed on the enemy. X spins you round 180 degrees and Y activates your Bloodlust. The Z button switches weapons. The controls are pretty simple to get used to and completely customisable, so if they don't feel right, you can easily change them. Once or twice I hit the wrong button, shooting out a harpoon instead of slicing and dicing, but that's probably my own fault. Don't jump in fights, or the chances are, you'll get shot out the air. Besides that, pretty simple to work.
Extra features 2/10
There's nothing special to gain from completing the game. Once it's done, it's done, and that's it. Besides playing the game again, you can use the ingenious cheat menu to activate the various cheats and have good fun with them, and that's really it, unfortunately.
Play Time 5/10
The game should only take you about 8 hours to complete, not a lot, but it's about 6 hours of absolutely great blood-splattered fun. The first few hours are, admittedly, boring, but once you get through them the rest of the game is a party. It could, however, do with a few more levels.
There's no reason to replay it again, other than to try out the cheats, or unless you want to massacre some more Nazis needlessly. Which is acceptable, really.
Buy or rent? 5/10
I'd rent, as it can be easily completed in a day or so of solid gaming. That said, it should be pretty cheap now, mine was £3.99! Four quid! Excellent! So for that price, you can't not buy it. Its worth it too. All four quid of it.
All in all, a good game, spoiled by short length and a few minor issues. Once you get past the first few levels, though, it becomes a blood-bath of major proportions, and you'll have a lot of fun therein.
Percentage: (The separate scores added together) 51%
Gamespot Score: (Not an average) 6.0