Review by Jacen Solo

"Blood will be raining when you play..."


What’s up with the current influx of vampire themed games anyway? In the last few months alone we have had Buffy, Blade and Kain shown up. While they vary in quality, all of them deal with vampires one way or another. Now, we have Rayne. WHEN WILL IT END?!

Gameplay: BloodRayne is played from a 3rd person perspective, just like all the games mentioned above. You’ll take control of Rayne, a sultry woman dressed in a red and black leather outfit. Just like Blade, Rayne is half-human, half-vampire. She has all the strengths of a vampire (speed, agility, strength) but none of their weaknesses save for the bloodlust (not entirely original, is it?). You’ll guide Rayne through lots of different stages ranging from the bayous of Louisiana to the cold decrepit castle in Germany. As you progress, you gain new abilities like Dilated Vision (think Bullet Time except you can have it on for as long as you want) and Extruded Vision (zoom). While I do like Dilated Vision, Extruded is useless. You get it too late in the game for it to be of any use and since the game usually takes place in cramped areas, you’re better off going hand to hand than sniping the enemies. Dilated vision, on the other hand, really comes in handy. It slows time down to a crawl, which makes dodging bullets and other stuff easy. Apart from that, it also showcases the game’s ultra cool physics engine. Rayne can dismember her enemies with her twin blades and when you do that in slow motion, you can truly behold the care the developers took. Body parts fly all over as Rayne gets to work on the enemies. Interactive environments make the furious gun battles all the more cool to watch (and more importantly, play in). Glass will get shattered as they’re shot, banners will be torn as bullets pass through them, tables will break if you hit them…the list of things you can interact with goes on nearly forever.

Rayne is similar to Kain in that she restores her health by feeding on her foes. Unlike Kain who can only do so when his foes is weakened, Rayne can do so anytime she likes as long as the foe has his back to her. A simple button tap is all it’ll take for Rayne to jump on to the hapless victim and drink his blood. You’re not helpless as you feed either. Rayne clings to her victim as she feeds and because of that you can use them as human shields while you drain them. Also, you can use your guns even when Rayne’s feeding (although the aim’s kind of whacked). All this is fine but I don’t like the game’s over reliance on it. The ONLY way in the game to gain health is to feed. So in other words, you’ll be pouncing on nearly every enemy you come across. This get dull fast as you have to stop to feeding every few steps or else you run the risk of dying.

Rayne’s level design also needs some work. Running around levels with nary a guide on where to go gets dull fast. Sure, you can see where you need to end up but the route you should take is never known. A map could have fixed this problem easily but alas there’s no such thing in the game. Also, most of the level objectives are rather droll. You’ll spend the majority of the game just killing selected officers before moving on to the next area…with the same objective. While fans of senseless killing may not mind this, the majority of gamers who want imaginative tasks will balk at the mundane and repetitive missions. And to make matters worse, sometimes you need to backtrack repeatedly to get to your next objective. While it’s not really an issue in small stages, some of the areas in the game are huge and require numerous loadings to pass through…

Another issue with Rayne is that the guns in the game are mostly underpowered. Apart from a select few, most of the guns have the damage potential of a peashooter. Hell, when I shoot a guy point blank in the face I want him to die! Not shoot me back! Also, the bosses in the game take an obscene amount of firepower to bring down, even on the easier difficulties. Again, that’s mainly due to the guns being too weak. Apart from using guns to kill you can use Rayne’s dual blades. But cool as they make look, they are awkward to use effectively. Rayne swings them too fast to connect most of the time and so if you want to use them, you have to continuously mash the button in the hopes that you’ll get lucky and land a hit. But despite its downfall, you’ll WANT to use the blades because they are use to access some of the best effects in the game-the decapitations. Rayne can slice arms, legs, heads, torsos…you name it. It’s fun to watch in slow motion as you slice an enemy in to and watch him try to drag his upper body to safety…

Gameplay rating: 7/10

Graphics: Rayne has some nice effects and the game never slows down (unintentionally of course). The levels are huge (most of the later ones anyway) and decent texture works. I do have a problem with the repetitive levels though. While the stages may take place in different countries, the stages (especially the ones set in military installations) all feel alike. This is partly due to the texture work and also because you face the same enemies (Nazi soldiers and officers). On the other hand, the game has some sweet textures to its credit. Daemites and the vampires you meet only look decidedly gross while still being cool. Rayne herself is nicely done (albeit not as nice as the model in the Xbox version) with hair that moves and for those horny males (you know who you are…) jiggly breasts. No, it’s not as crazy as in DoA3, but its noticeable nonetheless.

The stages are mostly big, featuring some impressive architecture (the temple stages should be singled out). While they may be big, there’s rarely any fog to be seen. Granted, Louisiana has massive fogging but that’s due to the level being set in a swamp, not to hide draw-in. As I mentioned earlier, the frame rate stays constant throughout the game, never dropping even in the busiest of firefights, which is impressive considering that can mean tons of stuff happening on screen at once.

Graphics rating: 8/10

Sound: I like the music in Rayne. It has a pulse-pounding tempo to it that lends itself well to the overall theme of the game. There’s never a quiet moment in the game, as the music never lets up, even during calm areas.

While some people say they liked Rayne’s voice, I personally feel that it sucks. The actress who did the voice seemed to be uninterested when she did the voice over. All the lines come off as flat and emotionless. Some may counter that that’s the point but to that I say: isn’t Rayne supposed to be somewhat cocky? How can somebody be cocky if her voice has no emotion in it? The voices for the enemies, I like. They’re funny in that they shriek, scream or cry in terror as Rayne decimates them. Another cool touch I like is how the voices in the game slow down if you use Dilated Vision mode. It’s nice to see the developers went the extra mile…

Sound rating: 7/10

Controls: While the game controls rather well, the animations need work. Badly. Rayne’s attacking and jumping animations feel disjointed. They don’t flow smoothly from one move to another and always come off as awkward looking. Even the cool moves like the side flip look decidedly amateurish compared to that seem in games like Devil May Cry of Metal Gear Solid 2. Also, her slashing animations with her blades don’t look good as well.

They lack punch or the ‘oomph’…for the lack of a better word. Rayne swings her blades too quickly and haphazardly for me. Her speed in which she swings her blade also lessens the believability of them since they appear to have neither weight nor momentum to back them up. It’s just a series of animations with little to no connection to each other.

But if you look past the shoddy animation, the game control’s remarkably well. Moving Rayne through the stages is a breeze and never felt like a chore. But one thing that irks me is the auto targeting system. Sometimes, it’ll target enemies that lose little to no danger to you at the moment while letting those with panzerfausts (German rocket launchers for the uninitiated) have the way with you. Maybe manual targeting would have helped, but there’s no way to tell for sure.

Controls rating: 6/10

Summary: Rayne comes to the show amid a deluge of vampire related titles. While certainly not the best (that honor goes to Xbox’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Rayne is far from being the worst *coughBlade2cough*.For the goth PS2 owner who’s looking for a fix after finishing Kain’s quest, Rayne is a satisfying meal. Action gamer who wants a stylistic game should also check Rayne out since it offers a lot of bang for you buck. Still, Rayne is not a game for everybody. The copious amount of blood and the usage of foul language (read: the infamous f word) mean this is definitely NOT a game for young gamers. Also, gamers how want a strong, engaging storyline should also look elsewhere since Rayne’s plot isn’t that interesting.

PROS:
-Lots of stages
-Dilated Vision mode is fun!
-Impressive attention to detail
-Some nice voices

CONS:
-Repetitive Gameplay
-Clunky animation
-Rayne’s voice
-Stages feel too similar

Total Score: 7/10


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/15/03, Updated 02/15/03


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