Goths eh? Despite the fact that The Sisters of Mercy and their pasty-faced black coat-wearing ilk have long since been resigned to bargain bin obscurity, our American cousins are still under the impression that spraying patchouli oil about the place and looking miserable is 'cool'.
Hence here's Dallas-based Terminal Reality's BloodRayne - a third-person action game starring a sexy leather-clad vampire dominatrix taking on hordes of hellish nazis bent on the resurrection of a terrifying demon who can lay waste to the earth. OK, so the plot doesn't exactly have the sophistication of Jane Austen, but the ability to dispatch Hitler's barmy army in unthinkably gruesome ways, is hugely enjoyable and laugh-out-loud funny.
BloodRayne, you see, is a tad on the gory side. With two large razor-sharp metal blades attached to her arms, any lightning-quick acrobatic jumps and spins can neatly slice and dice nearby enemies, sending chunks of man-flesh arcing into the air and spraying walls with gushes of crimson liquid. BloodRayne can also pick up and fire enemy weaponry, including shotguns, grenades, machine-guns and pistols - useful for completing the missions which vary from an assault on an undead-infested German castle, to a raid on a Nazi submarine depot.
Fancy A Pint?
A major advantage that BloodRayne has over wimpy 'alive' videogame characters such as Lara Croft, is that whenever she finds herself short on health, all the garlichating heroine has to do is feast upon the warm blood of any fresh victim for an instant inhuman pick-me-up. Also, if you wade through enough enemies in hand-to-hand combat, BloodRayne can be sent into a Bloodrage - an intensely violent state where she literally makes mincemeat of any unfortunate souls who cross her path.
In addition, BloodRayne has supernatural powers that can be called upon to help you in particularly tough battles: Aura Vision allows you to see enemies in the dark, Extruded Vision can be used to scout ahead and Dilated Vision is a bullet-time effect allowing you to perform more accurate kills and watch the gibs fly in glorious balletic slo-mo.
Enemies in BloodRayne include your classic "Schnell, Englander Dog!" Nazis, as well as unearthly spider-like swamp creatures, zombies and scary, floating demon heads, which you meet in the later levels. Graphically, BloodRayne doesn't render anything particularly mesmerising, but the Infernal Engine seems solid and smooth, with large indoor and open-air environments, and detailed character textures. Also worthy of note are the sound effects, which accompany the ultra-violence with the thuds of bodies hitting the earth, gun shots, splattering blood and ear-bursting screams of agony from BloodRayne's victims.
Terminal Reality has acted like a magpie in the development of BloodRayne, stealing shiny ideas from other games - you have the Tomb Raider-style action hero, the Max Payne-style shoot-outs, the vampires from Soul Reaver and the Nazis from, well, every other title at the moment. It's basically a console game, but none the worse for it, with mouse-look added to this PC incarnation. We'll have to wait and see if Terminal Reality manages to sort out the sometimes-iffy Al, and the distinct lack of any mid-level saves (very annoying), but the wickedly satisfying blood-thirsty kills should ensure BloodRayne has loads of bite.
There's nothing like a game to open up your mind to a whole new world of ideas and groundbreaking concepts. What if vampires existed and a halfhuman hybrid decided to use its powers to combat evil? What if the Nazis had dabbled in the occult, raising zombies and so on? What if Atlantis was yadda yadda yadda? You get the idea. Blood Rayne hasn't got an original fang in its sharp set of dentures. You've got a main character who's a bit of Blade, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, 2000 AD's Durham Red and Bloody Mallory (from a cult French action/horror movie). You've got a ridiculous plot that bastardises Wolfenstein, Indiana Jones and one of Terminal Reality's previous games, Nocturne. You've got some spectacular slo-mo action straight out of Enter the Matrix and Max Payne. And yet, it could have been brilliant if it had all been put together right.
Since BloodRayne is also being released on all the major consoles, it comes as no surprise that it's a very simplistic, non-stop action beat 'em up/shooter, which would be completely unremarkable were it not for your vampiric powers. What does come as a surprise is that the whole first section of the game is so awful and frustrating there's a good chance most of you won't get to the good bits. Well, the better bits at least. You start off in a foggy Louisiana swamp, fighting some unconvincing zombies with guns and some generic spidery monsters. And it goes on forever. To make things worse, coming into contact with water depletes your health and, because you can jump vast distances, it's almost impossible to judge jumps to avoid it. Then there's the matter of not being able to save except in between minisections which, considering the hard bosses you have to encounter, is nigh on criminal. If I wasn't a professional I would have given up. Once you're through it though, the action jumps five years later to 1938 (yes, that's right, the whole ordeal didn't even have anything to do with the story) and things improve. The swamps give way to a Nazi complex in Argentina, where you have to hunt down an a series of high-ranking officers and uncover the obligatory secret experiments. The lack of water is the first improvement, so you can concentrate on dispatching soldiers in the most gruesome ways imaginable, as well as topping up on health by having a good gnaw on their jugular.
There's nothing better than sucking blood, especially when it's done as stylishly as this. It's action all the way, as you spin and hack with the blades on your arms or use the array of machine guns available. When you reach a certain point you can activate your Blood Rage, which turns the screen red and you into a feral killing machine. You also unlock new movements as you progress as well as new modes of vision. There's one that acts as a sort of night vision (and points the way helpfully to your next objective), the bullet-time mode (not sure how that's a vision type) and. later, a sniper zoom view.
This is where BloodRayne shines, when you slow down time, start dodging the bullets carving through the air and throwing scissor kicks that send enemy limbs flying. It looks amazing. You never feel in control though, since aiming is automatic and the rest is pure button bashing. At least, unlike many of the recent multiplatform titles, the controls are spot on for the most part. Facing the right way can be a problem though, and the result is Rayne running backwards and sideways like an out-of-control vibrator.
The Gestapo's Last Orgy
A bigger problem is just how repetitive it all is. With no puzzles, no stealth and little variety to the surroundings, it gets tiresome fairly quickly. Corridor, corridor, load of zombies. corridor, boss. Repeat ad nauseam.
The acting too is lifeless (except for the guy who voiced the main character in Nocturne, who has a great James Eart Jones croak) with dialogue to match. Somehow when a zombie Nazi growls: I'll wear you like lederhosen, you just know it wasn't meant to be funny.
There is a certain B-movie charm to it all, though. Kind of a 70s Italian sexploitation with zombies, S&M gear, over the top gore and Nazis, that remind one of sleazy video nasties like lisa, She Wolf Of The SS (who pretty much makes an appearance as The Butcheress here) and SS Experiment Camp.
It's fun in small doses, but we recommend you give the demo a spin before buying to see if this consoley action/adventure is really for you or not.
What do you get when you mix Nazis, mutants, the occult, parasitic monsters and throw in a sexy anti-heroine, half-vampire secret agent? You get the latest game developed by Terminal Reality and it rocks. It's a welcome relief for the Xbox gamer, looking for a decent game to buy.
Everything about BloodRayne is polished; from the full colored manual & voice talents to the well crafted cut sequences. You control agent BloodRayne, a Dhampir (offspring of a human and a vampire), working for the Brimestone Society to eliminate supernatural threats. The game starts you in Louisiana, but eventually you get on the trail of the Nazi's (everyone's favorite occult hunting villains) and travel to Argentina and Germany to systematically eliminate the threat.
The level of detail in this game is high, including a Nazi complex, where I broke open a box to reveal the Ark of the Covenant. I don't know how many gamers noticed this, but they included it. The developers had no qualms about borrowing concepts from games or movies, doing whatever it took to produce one hot game. I especially liked the ability to alter Rayne's perceptions. Dilated Perception puts you into Matrix-like mode, allowing you to dodge bullets (ala Max Payne only better) and view gratuitous violence in slow motion. If that isn't enough for you, you increase the level of difficulty in the game or enter cheats to unlock modes like extreme decapitation.
The controls are easy to use and customize to fit your own style. Your range of attacks includes blades hinged to your wrists, a harpoon attack that allows you to impale and yank opponents, along with firearms and explosives that you pick up along the way. Need to heal yourself? Take a bite and suck down some blood'it kills them but heals you.
It's a safe bet that you haven't seen the last of Rayne. If you want a mature title that earns its rating and offers a great gaming experience, then this is the guilty pleasure that you've been looking for.
Sucking blood has never been so en vogue since Winona Ryder got S&M saucy with vampire Gary Oldman in 1992's Bram Stoker's Dracula. Nowadays, if you don't have a movie, TV show or vid coming out where no drop of blood goes unswallowed, like get with it already!
Looks like Terminal Reality got with it just in time with their latest action title, Bloodrayne. Not only does 'Rayne serve up every goth boy's dream girl, Nazis and a shady occult underworld, its ulndiana Jones meets gun-fu action rivals big names like Max Payne.
Set sometime in the early 1900s to 1930s, Bloodrayne, a covert operative of an unnamed organization specializing in the paranormal, is the only one standing between Hitler and an artifact harboring tremendous power. But Hitler couldn't have asked for a more lethal blockade.
Heightened touch, taste, smell and sight, as well as superhuman strength and agility come naturally to this half-vampire, thus allowing her to pounce off and up virtually anything that stands still for a second (including a Nazi shooting right at her). John Woo-style mid-air side-shoulder slides, cartwheels and more acrobatic finesse quintessential in today's action hero, Bloodrayne sports a slick repertoire the Wachowski Brothers would be proud of.
Bloodrayne's svelte body also lets her carry all manner of drop-dead gizmos--up to eight different weapons ranging from rocket launchers to a Mortal Kombat "get over here" spear--on her back, hips and ankles. And yes, double fisting any pair of weapons at once is another one of her specialties. And if Bloodrayne's mobile arsenal isn't enough, piss her off good and an ability called Bloodlust kicks in, which lets her choose whether she wants to slow time down (Slow Mo), sniper-zoom in on an enemy (Zoom), or scan who in the vicinity's got the most nutritional bang for their blood (Aura).
The last of this trinity, Aura, is an essential feature in 'Rayne since drinking blood is Bloodrayne's sole source of health. No medical packs or painkillers for this sister. She'll only drink the hot liquid of the living, even if the living happens to be missing half his body and is smart (or dumb) enough to crawl desperately away from his slasher. This point also brings up another impressive touch to 'Rayne's overall gameplay. Smart Nazis.
Nazis will struggle to release their necks from Bloodrayne's sticky fangs, call for reinforcements, continue shooting even while lying in a blood pool, or crawl away in cowardice. So needless to say, Bloodrayne will be up to her neck in killer opportunities. OK, guilty for excessive use of puns, but you get the picture.
With four expansive locales spanning Louisiana to Argentina, fully destroyable environments, hidden passages, some secret drivable vehicles (Terminal Reality's real hush-hush about this), and at only 20 percent complete with ample time for tweaks, 'Rayne's set up for success. So keep those fangs sharp and shiny. Expectations will be high this fall, and Bloodrayne doesn't wait for anybody.