Everyone's favorite vampire-hunting bad-boy (aside from Castlevania's Belmont clan) is back. Blade II pits you against the undead hordes from the movie in a futuristic, gritty action-adventure game. Hand-to-hand battles are enhanced by Blade's "Rage Powers"--his trademark supernatural strength. A plethora of weapons ensures the gore is slathered on heavily.
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Hoping to cash in on the theatrical release of Blade II, Activision has brought the Marvel hero to life on the X-Box. Fans of the Blade series may be geared up for a solid performance but like many games designed after a movie, often the license is expected to sell the game by itself.Blade II falls into this category, leaving much to be desired, as it's plagued with problems and has few redeeming qualities.
If you're not familiar with Blade, he's supposed to be half-vampire, half-human with increased strength and agility. The problem with Blade is he's anything but agile as the control system is cumbersome and lacking luster. Although an innovative 360-degree combat system was attempted, it ends up actually slowing down the combat to a frustrating level. One of the major issues is the right thumbstick controlling the punch and kicking. Not only does it decide if a punch or kick is thrown as you only push the thumbstick towards the direction of the enemy, but the game actually tells you to slow down. Basically, you'll find yourself surrounded by enemies with only one punch or kick happening for every two or three attempts made. In addition to making combos difficult to execute, the camera angle will give you fits as well, creating a frustrating experience.
Besides the controls, other problems also arise. The AI for one is not impressive or consistent, as enemies will usually charge you with disregard to strategy or personnel well being. Other issues like below average graphics where enemies will actually stand inside one another, as well as moderate lighting problems, also distract from the game. Even if you consider yourself Blade's number one fan and can look past most of the issues, the game is fairly short, completed in a mere eight to ten hours.
Blade II falls in line with many other movies turned into games where the main focus is the license not the gameplay. With a number of issues, including an innovative control system that misses the mark, to a weak AI and graphics, Blade II is going to be a hard sell. If you are a hardcore Blade fan, I would encourage renting it first as you'll probably be able to beat it before you need to return it anyway.
Occasionally, I'm completely mystified by the games I play. Blade II, a new game based on a film license, is one of the games that have managed to mystify me. It's got great potential, with a very' '?different?' control scheme. Like the films, killing vampires is at the heart of the matter. And, again like the films, you've got a host of Blade's most potent weaponry to fight with.
Where does this game fail? First, you fight using the right analog stick by pressing it towards an opponent. The developers chose to require you to 'tap' the stick towards an opponent for each strike. I found this scheme to be very creative, but ultimately hindering, as it means timing your tapping to a slow, rhythmic pattern in order to create combos'a frustrating process indeed. Additionally, had they designed it so that rotating the analog stick made a difference, I think it would've vastly improved the game. It's confounding how the developers could've failed to see this style of game play for what it could've been, instead reducing it to the level of an in-game annoyance. Beyond this control, the game is in all other ways a normal action title, with no other gloss or shine.
On the plus side, Blade is a very powerful character, capable of killing most enemies in the game with just a few hits, or a single well placed combo. He's got a variety of gadgets, only a few of which can be carried on each mission. Said gadgets are unlocked at regular intervals as you raise your score during the missions.
Ultimately, the music isn't all that captivating, the graphics look somewhat sub-par for a PS2 title, and the aforementioned control scheme does a good job of mucking up the fun. I reluctantly enjoyed parts of this title, but only barely enough to justify this as a rental.