Review by Martin G
"An intentional B-list movie atmosphere that works thanks to the game not taking itself seriously at all"
Let me just explain the concept of BloodRayne to you: a slutty and bouncy-breasted vampire armblade-murders Nazi generals and alien maggots in the Louisiana, Argentina and Germany of the 1940s. Read that a couple of times to take it all in. It has to be one of the best videogame themes ever; it could have been ridiculous, but thankfully BloodRayne doesn't take itself seriously at all and works as a delightful equivalent of a B-list movie.
That's really the game's best attribute: its charm. It takes all of five minutes to realise that the developers never pretended to establish a serious storyline or a believable setting. As usual, a story that knows how ludicrous it is and loves it is much, much more enjoyable than one that tries and fails. Rayne herself is pretty much the image of this statement: (un)dressed with a costume hard to imagine being made in the forties, she takes it upon herself for some reason or other to exterminate the most important generals of the Nazi army, who are in Argentina. Despite this seemingly consequential objective, she is happy to expose her leather-clad vamp attitude taunting and downright making fun of her enemies. During the numerous boss fights of the game, bosses recite the generic drivel all bad guys feel force to recite, while Rayne whips out her wit arsenal with such pearls as I've got my shopping list here, and we're all out of you! or Shush, honey, what are the neighbours going to say? or, in one particular instance, just a single but very expressive and colourful word. With the same self-awareness of the game, Rayne never tries to appear serious or deep, and instead has fun with a whorish attitude.
The whole visual designers, however, took their work very seriously while the rest of the team parodied the stereotypical adventure movie. Enemies look detailed and big even in the lowest graphic settings, each one having dynamic faces that move properly when they talk or scream and individual fingers that also move when they're supposed to; in the highest settings you can almost feel the actual texture of Rayne's costume's fabric. The sceneries, on the other hand, are pretty dull. The first part of the game takes place in a pretty unremarkable town and the last third develops in a good-looking castle, but the great majority of the game is spent in a Nazi fortress that is basically all concrete. It wouldn't be too bad if the level was short, but you spend so much time in it that before long all the corridors will start looking the same and the environments will cease to surprise, or even interest.
That's not something that happens to the gameplay, which manages pretty well to maintain its appeal throughout the whole game. Rayne can fight with her dual armblades or with the guns she picks off dead enemies (they can go from handguns to assault rifles, from rocket launchers to a tank's machine gun). She has a four or five move combo that combines knife-slashing and kicks, but she can perform different and vastly more deadly moves for a short time when she activates her Blood Rage, a berserk kind of state in which she can enter voluntarily after killing enough enemies.
While that's her basic combat arsenal, there are several add-ons that will affect your gameplay very importantly. Rayne has three vision modes, apart from the naked-eye regular one. One is the Aura vision and it allows Rayne to see enemies' health as well as the location of her objective, regardless of how far away it is, while another one allows her to zoom in and out for more precise shooting. The most important one is the vision mode that makes time run in slow-motion. This mode does not make your attacks stronger or give you any other advantage whatsoever, but being able to time and place your blows just where or when you have them to, being able to react and dodge enemy attacks and making accurate long-distance jumps is an immensely valuable ability all the same. There is absolutely no limit on how much you can use this: if you felt like, you could play the whole game in slow-motion. Lastly, Rayne recovers lost health by drinking her victims' blood. This can be done in close quarters by literally mounting the enemy or, if your soon-to-be breakfast is too far away, snatching them with a hook and pulling them closer.
All of the above remains pretty much the same for the whole game, which can and most certainly will end up being repetitive. The game tries to make up for this by introducing new types of enemies every once in a while. The most important advancement in this matter is the one from regular humans to daemites, some sort of disgusting parasites that replace a human's head and spine. Humans will shoot at you, try to surround you or even run away from you entirely, depending on the situation. If you cut a hand off a soldier (severed members are a given in Rayne's work field), he'll run away screaming and eventually collapse from blood loss. Daemites are mindless and jump at you like little kamikaze maggots, but they actually like being hurt and will never give up on chasing you.
I failed to notice any music at all in BloodRayne, but at least the sound effects are well done. Everything sounds when and how it should sound, and there's plenty of dialogue going on not only in cutscenes, but even in the middle of a fight Rayne insulting the soldiers that hit her, them screaming God, get her off me! when she decides to take the health she lost back. Sometimes you also get to overhear conversations between soldiers that haven't been alerted of your presence. The Spanish dubbing is good in an understated kind of way that fits the rest of the game's atmosphere quite well.
In general, BloodRayne's camp feel is ultimately what will make you play it: the light-hearted humour, the liberal use of gore and Rayne's personality all contribute to form an entertaining action game that, albeit repetitive, well worth trying out.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 02/14/06
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