Review by c magnum

Reviewed: 01/05/03 | Updated: 03/19/03

This game is unashamed of its excessive violent and sexual contents.

It is very obvious that this game is trying to sell based on sexual appeal, violence and gore. The game designers created a vampire lady whom they claimed is a “super sexy, super lethal and supernatural heroine who have the looks and moves to make gamers lusting for her”, as the main character. Her job in this game is to tempt the hot-blooded male gamers and to cut her enemies into million pieces. Well, she is attractive to a certain extent but I do wish that the game designers did not try this tactic to sell this game instead. This kind of tactic just simply makes it seems like a desperate effort to appeal to the gamers and causing this game to sink into a lower class of games, which instead of attracting most of the gamers, will repel them away instead. This is very unfortunate because actually, the core of this game; the gameplay is pretty good and enjoyable, though it does get repetitive. It is very similar to Soul Reaver in terms of gameplay with the addition of using firepower and minus the soul sucking ability and the horrible precise platform jumping.

Story 3/10 – Rayne, the heroine of this game is a half human, half vampire who has all the strengths of a vampire with none of its weaknesses, she is the product of the rape of her mother by her vampire father. Thus, she created a path of destruction, killing many vampires in order to find her father. During the search for her father, she was recruited by the Brimstone society to help eliminate any supernatural threats that will destroy the world. So she was sent to Louisiana on a mission and the game begins from here.

Frankly speaking, the story here is very generic because there are no twists, no details, no emotional scenes and superb ending. The story is very predictable; Rayne discovered the evils works of Nazis and seek to impede them from creating more chaos, there are no surprises in the progress of the story except for one minor one regarding a mysterious commander. Also, there are not many details and information added to the story, like the exact evil deeds of the Nazi Officers that Rayne is sent to kill, what and where exactly is Brimstone society, why the Brimstone society chose Rayne to be their agent, how they convinced her to join them and information on her father. There are too many questions unanswered and the lack of details makes it difficult to be engross into the story. Also, it is hard to feel for the characters because no emotional scenes are depicted in this game. Another thing is the lame ending, which I can concluded that most probably, there will be a sequel, so I guess you can the idea what the ending is like.

Despite the weak story, the game designers should be given credit for coming up with a logical story to function the progress of the game. For one thing, Rayne is purposely designed to be a half vampire instead of a pure one so that she has no constant need to suck blood, she only need to do that to replenish her health when she takes damages. This will prevent the game from becoming irritating as you do not have to constantly look for targets to suck blood on, just imagine you are desperately looking for a target to fill up your life bar and there is no one alive in sight and the life bar is slowly draining, well, you get the idea. Also, this adds humanity to Rayne’s character in which though she kills in very cruel fashion, she do not kill innocents just to satisfy her bloodlust, she only kills the evils, so it is easier to like this character, though it is hard to feel for this character. Also, the story gives reasons for Rayne to venture onto various areas of the game to complete her missions, so I can say that the story do fulfill its basic functions.

Gameplay 6/10 – The gameplay lies heavily on action instead of puzzles. In fact, this game is something like a hack and slash platformer with a gothic theme, mixed with some easy puzzles. Rayne will go to several different levels to complete her missions, which ranges like assassination of the Nazi Officers, getting from one place to another and finding or destroying some stuff. Most of the time, these missions will just require Rayne to kill her way through her enemies to get to her goal. This is where the fun of this game comes in, the dispatching of the enemies (though some players may feel uneasy about this, which is perfectly understandable since some enemies are human and they are killed in various cruel ways.)

Rayne can slash her targets into pieces, or should I say many pieces, with the silver blades attached to her wrists, and as she attacks with her blades, her bloodlust meter will increase. When her bloodlust meter is full, indicated by her glowing red eye shown in the health meter at the left bottom corner of the screen, you can trigger a state called the blood rage in which time slows down, Rayne is moving faster as compared to her surroundings, doing super combos and inflicting more damages. In fact, the blood rage is absolutely essential in defeating the bosses. Besides using her blades, she can also wield firepower to dispatch her enemies and she can use two guns at a time, shoot while running or in the air, which are really cool. She will automatically aim at the nearest enemies she is facing or you can enter the sniper mode (you only get this ability later in the game) to aim at your target from a far distance. My main complaint on using the firepower is that the lightest and heaviest guns seem practically useless, they can hardly kill any enemies, doing minimal damages. Only the special weapons are really powerful and come in very handy like, the pauzerfaust. One more way to kill the enemies is to suck their blood till they drop; this move is very useful as you can replenish Rayne’s health if her health meter drops, or use the victim as a temporary shield. After the introduction level, you will get a harpoon used to catch the mobile meals from a distance and to feed on them and the harpoon is a useful weapon for attacking at a range without the use of firepower. Sometimes, if you are lucky, and your enemy is unaware of your presence, you can perform the stealth kill with the blades, effectively cutting your enemy into pieces at one shoot. Throughout the whole game, Rayne will acquire new abilities and combos that prove to be useful, as the levels get progressively harder. However, there is not much difference between the combos acquired and the original moves except for the amount of damage done, and not to mention these combos can only be executed during blood rage only. Thus, the excitement of getting new combos is not present in this game at all and after playing this game for a while, things may start to get a little boring.

Another thing about this game is that the player is strongly encouraged to create as much carnage as possible, meaning the player should try to use the blades instead of the fire power since fire power is relatively useless in this game and it does not fill up the blood rage gauge. And as you know, using the blades implies many severed body parts, blood fountains and tortured screams. While using the pauzerfaust is useful, this weapon also blows enemies into pieces, so you guess, more blood and gore. Even the soldiers have tendency to accidentally blow up themselves and their comrades. Some players may like this but to me, this is excessive and redundant and only serves to keep certain players entertained throughout the game as the gameplay gets progressively repetitive.

The puzzles are minimal in this game, which are mainly finding some batteries to power on the elevators, finding control turkeys to open the doors and figuring out where to go. The finding errands are not very tedious, usually the items are not too far away from where you want to use them on and there are less than ten such puzzles in this game. Also, you can use the Aura sense or the radar on the right bottom corner of the screen to check which direction to go and find the items. Figuring out where to go is the more difficult part of the game even though the aura sense and radar do provide some help. For one thing, each level is pretty huge and there is no map, so it is easy to get lost. Also, some doors are locked or unopenable, so you have to find another way in by breaking the windows and jumping though them (sometimes, you have to look up to check if there are any breakable windows on the second or third levels of the buildings) or by breaking through the weak walls and wooden doors using the rebound kick. This provides some challenge to the game making it more interesting.

The bosses of this game are no pushovers and require great skills in strafing, avoiding attacks and choosing appropriate timing to use the Blood Rage, and sometimes, strategies to defeat them. Sometimes, it can be very frustrating to try and beat them. Maybe, for some gamers, they will like this kind of challenges.

As I had said before, this game is something like a platformer; so jumping between platforms is a norm in this game. But don’t worry; there are no ridiculously tedious and difficult jumps required, so you don’t have to be very precise in your jumping. Even if you miss a jump, you will most probably land in the water, which causes Rayne to lose some health or on land, so you just have to try again. Also, even if you try again, you don’t have to go through a long route to reach the platform you missed (If you had played Soul Reaver, you will know this horrible Drowned Abbey level where if you missed one jump, which requires super precision, you have to go through a certain long route again where there are a series of platforms which requires precise jumping. Shivers). However, in some levels, while Rayne is jumping, some enemies will be happily plugging bullets into her and there is nothing she can do except to fire special weapons to kill them thus wasting ammo, so this can be quite frustrating.

The weak point of the gameplay lies in the lack of variations in the puzzle, level and enemy designs. Maybe the puzzle department is not the focus of this game, which explains the absence of innovative puzzles; so puzzle fans may be disappointed. There are only three main areas, namely Louisiana, Argentina and Germany, causing the loss of excitement in opening up new areas, which are vastly different from each other. There are not many different kinds of enemies in this game, so its can get a bit boring killing the same kind of enemies over and over again.

Controls 9/10- The controls are very responsive, there is no problems executing the moves you want. The button configuration are excellently done in which you will have no problem maneuvering about while using the blades or the firepower. You can easily switch between using the blades, the harpoon and firepower while attacking. Also, the moving of Rayne is 3rd person perspective style a la Resident Evil so there is no dizziness induced from sudden spinning of the camera when she turns, since the camera view follows the back of Rayne most of the time. The camera always keeps some distance away from Rayne so it is easy to what is ahead of and besides her. However, for people who prefer the 1st person perspective style like in MGS, you can go to “options” to increase the speed of turning to very high, so when you move the analog button to left or right, she will turn so fast that it seems like MGS controls for moving. In addition, there is the strafing option, which is useful in the case of avoiding your enemies’ bullets or attacks and going behind them for attacking. The versatility of controls, in which you can choose between three different control setups and change the turning speed, is a welcomed feature to the game.

My problems with the controls? Well, they are the inability to control where to land when doing spinning jump and difficulty in judging where to jump so as to land onto the wires above to tightrope. These two problems will cause Rayne to land in water many times, which is not a very pleasant experience.

Graphics 5/10 – This game is decently rendered but with many flaws. The characters have quite detailed facial features but it is obvious that more work can be done to improve on this area because the jagged edges are still very obvious. The character models are like nicely craved wooden dolls, they have nice profiles but lack the details and the life in them. While the Nazi soldiers are rendered pretty impressive especially their horrified expressions when Rayne is sucking their blood and some characters like Rayne, Mynce, the twins and Jurgen Wulf look distinctly different from each other, other enemies like the Nazi Officers and the vampires look muddled. The Nazi Officers look very different from their photos in the Target Hit List and all of them look almost the same, it is almost impossible to tell which officer is which, except by their moustache. Frankly speaking, it is better to know whom the person is you are attacking him instead knowing his identity only after he is dead. Also, there are not enough variations of Nazi soldiers and other enemies with the Nazi soldiers having only three kinds of faces, namely, the one with moustache, the one with cigar and the one without moustache, and the vampires are distinguished from each other only by the different piercing on their bodies. The movements of the characters are very realistic from the Nazi soldiers waving their hands in pain as Rayne sucks their blood, and running away in terror when Rayne just lops off their arms or slices their comrades into pieces to, the motions of Rayne when she attacks, rolls, jumps and flips. These movements can be seen clearly when Rayne uses her dilated perception to slow down time, so enjoy them. But Rayne looks like she is suffering from “Stiff Back Syndrome” in which her back is rigidly straight and she looks like she cannot turn her waist. More work can be done on this area.

As for Rayne, she looks pretty good with her hair flowing very naturally in the air when she moves and the two ornaments on the sides of her hair not only enhance her look but also swirl around impressively and realistically adding to the viewing pleasure. Her costume is nicely designed which is full of gothic flavor completed with intricate details. My main gripe with the design of Rayne is the inconsistency of her appearance in the CG movies and in-game graphics. In the CG movie, Rayne has blood red hair and looks absolutely nasty (don’t exactly attractive, I must say, it only serves to haunt one’s dreams), something like a femme fatale while her hair is orangey red and she looks milder in the game. I think that surely, it is not difficult to avoid this kind of discrepancy, how tough is it to ensure that the colour is the same and the basic facial features are the same? Anyway, my personal opinion is that though Rayne’s red hair is very nice, she looks way too vicious and angry in the CG movies to attract many people unless the person is obsessed with murderous looking womanfolk, hope that in the sequel, she will look more like her image in the in-game graphics.

The CG movies are quite good with pretty realistic expressions and movements of the characters but as I had said before, the design of Rayne could be improved on. Also, as compared to the CG movies of Silent Hill games, yes, even first Silent Hill game on Psone, the CG movies of this game is still one notch below. Then again, it is almost impossible to reach the standard of Silent Hill’s CG movies, so I am not going to complain too much.

The backgrounds are nicely detailed and the layout of the levels is realistically designed, yes, there are barracks and toilets in the Nazi hideouts. Rayne can make scratches on the walls when she slashes around and gallons of blood littered the floors and walls when some fighting takes place.

Sounds 7/10 – The music on the title screen is nice and the background music of the levels has a strong gothic feel, nothing too irritating but nothing too memorable as well. Also, the music is too soft, to the point of non-existent. The sound effects are wonderfully done from realistic gun firing sounds, slashing sounds of Rayne’s blades, screams of agony of the characters (can be pretty disturbing though), Nazi Officers and soldiers to sounds of the explosions. The voice acting is decent also but take note that the characters are very generous in the use of vulgar language.

Conclusion – This game has decent gameplay to worth a try, great for gamers who love action in their games. Prepare to feel uneasy at the excessive blood and gore in the game though. Oh, and its best to play this game when your parents are not at home or lock your room before you play it.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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