Review by bbears
"You play as a vampire but move like a zombie..."
BloodRayne Betrayal is the third BloodRayne game and the first to be a 2D action platformer. The first two games were 3D action adventure games that cheaply tried to emulate the at the time new and successful Devil May Cry games. These games were moderately successful and even spawned a couple of crappy movies. I played the first one and thought it was fun but nothing special. But when I heard of this game coming to the XBLA, I was definitely excited. This genre is one of my favorite and the hype pushing the gore and style of this got me excited. Unfortunately, even though this game has fun combat and plenty of style to go around, the controls are absolutely horrible. The awful movement in this game cripples it and quickly turns it into a chore.
BloodRayne Betrayal has a sort of comic book cell-shade style that looks really good. When I first saw it I wasn't immediately impressed, but it does quickly grow on you. Especially when you see it in motion. Typical of this graphics style, there really isn't that much detail in the environments or character models. But the high contrast and flashy animations definitely keep your screen very busy and rarely leaves you thinking that the game looks dull. Sound effects are also good, and contribute to the constant stream of chaos that this game tries to keep up. I do think the music is a little a off. Although it is not bad or annoying, the up beat synthesized rock music seems really out of place.
This is where BloodRayne clearly fails. Almost every aspect of the control scheme has issues. The platforming sections are an absolute nightmare. Making precision movements in midair, which is frequently asked of you, is near impossible. The back flip which is essential in some of these sections really needs a running start, but frequently you will have to do this difficult move quickly and onto small platforms. Not mention everything just feels sluggish. Twitch reactions are often needed in this game and lag in the controls is ruining to the whole formula. Other problems with the controls are you can't move once you have started an animation and directional kicks, when trying to put an enemy in certain spot, are much more difficult than they should be. Bad controls don't only make a game frustrating but also can completely throw off the pace when you get stuck in section that should be easy.
Although I do remember some of the story from the first game I have no idea what was happening in this game. BloodRayne is supposed to be a half vampire half human bent on stopping all bad vampires. Pretty standard stuff and this entry makes no attempt to progress this.
BloodRayne is fairly standard 2D action platformer. You progress relentlessly forward with your blades, gun, and special moves. The combat is mixed up with platforming and boss battles, which are the best part of the game. The most unique sections are when you play as bird. These sequences are short lived and a nice change of pace from the rest of the platforming. While as the bird you must negotiate many obstacles quickly while adjusting your altitude by pounding the A button. Most of the combat is done with the blades. With these you can make short of almost anything and early on you feel overpowered. Especially when your gun, although limited in ammo, one shot kills a most enemies. It is not till later on that more challenging enemies make you use the the combat system more in depth. One of the cooler parts of the game is stunning enemies and then sucking their blood for health. You also learn a couple special moves along the way such as turning enemies into exploding bombs and a cannon. The platforming however is mind numbly frustrating because of the control issues as I discussed already. The result of this is that game has a start and stop feel. You will blow through hordes of enemies only to spend ten minutes trying to make one jump that is supposed to be simple. Like I said the boss battles are the best part, they are creative and make you use your skills more so than any other part of the game.
BloodRayne Betrayal was a game that I really wanted to like, but the awful controls ruined it for me. At $15 dollars on the XBLA this game is not worth it. I don't know if this game wasn't properly tested but it has been a while I have played a modern game with controls this bad. If you are looking for a new 2D action platformer your better off digging through some old Genesis cartridges than wasting money here.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 02/06/12
Game Release: BloodRayne: Betrayal (US, 09/07/11)
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