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BloodRayne Review

GAME INFO
publisher: Majesco
developer: Terminal Reality
genre: Action Adventure

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
PII 733, 128MB RAM, 64MB Video Card, 2GB HD
ESRB rating: M
homepage:
www.bloodrayne.com/

release date: Sep 13, 03
» All About BloodRayne on ActionTrip


The action adventure market is crowded with titles these days, with developers and publishers trying to create the next Mrs. Croft, but as many publishers are finding out, making a decent action adventure game is no small task. Majesco was obviously feeling confident when they enlisted Terminal Reality to create BloodRayne, though. The folks at Terminal Reality are no strangers to the genre, with one pretty damn scary action adventure called Nocturne under their belts. Their latest project is a fast-paced action oriented blood-fest known as BloodRayne. The game is brimming with violence and animated boobs - yes, animated bouncing boobs. It's got plenty of eye-candy and some really good action. So is it good enough to warrant your attention?

Read on...

As the half-vampire BloodRayne, you have sworn your life to protect humanity from the supernatural. (Bad monsters, as opposed to good monsters like you.) Your latest assignment: Seek and destroy the nefarious vampire Jurgen Wolf before he can use powerful occult relics to unleash untold horror upon the world. Jurgen is a Nazi of course, and our heroine BloodRayne is employed by the secretive anti-Nazi society (Brimstone) to thwart his evil plans.

BloodRayne is a product of her human mother's rape by her vampire father. Born with powers of a vampire without all the weaknesses (Where have I heard this story before? Oh yeah! Blade! - Ed), and just like Blade, BloodRayne is on the edge and very hard to contain. She puts the hurt on Nazis like you wouldn't believe - chopping off limbs, snapping spines and sucking their blood to feed. Her only weakness is water. BloodRayne doesn't like water - in fact, if she stays in it for too long, she dies. (It makes one wonder about hygiene and all, but that's beside the point.) By making her vulnerable to water, the designers have in fact found a clever way to limit BloodRayne's movement, and make the game appear less linear than it really is.

But even with this clever trick the designers couldn't really disguise the game's obvious linearity (even though they claim it is not). Gameplay wise this is not a downside as BloodRayne doesn't really try to be anything but a straight-up linear action game. There is a lot of fighting, shooting and gallons of blood being splattered across the walls. Luckily, the action is as smooth and interesting as in any action adventure out there. In fact, it is even comparable to the feel of Max Payne. There are just so many things that Terminal Reality's new Infernal Engine can do. Visually, it does a wonderful job of creating different types of environments. Scary settings, outdoor areas, cool looking Victorian style houses - there are just loads of tricks that this piece of code can pull off. The bump mapping effects on the models look awesome, the camera work is fluid and it doesn't take away from the action. The models look detailed and very well animated, and the real-time shadow effects are eye-catching but not too intrusive. In a word, the engine boasts some very solid visuals for an action adventure game. Amongst other things, it can go from slow-mo to full speed in real time, and it does so while still rendering some mean motion blur effects. And all the while, the frame rate was rock solid on my XP2200/Radeon 9700 Pro rig. The water surfaces look beautiful and the reflection of the moon in the water adds a special flair to the outdoor areas. Because of the excellent animation, bump-mapping and the engine's proprietary bullet-time effect the action looks smooth and very appealing. You'll just love doing a high jump and then a mid-air twist only to land behind a Nazi soldier and suck every drop of blood from his pulsating neck artery. Even the sounds get muffled and distorted as you suck his blood or beat the living crap out of him in slow motion! Very cool.

As far as the controls are concerned it all works very fluently and intuitively. BloodRayne can use both of her hands to fight. You'll be controlling the left hand with one mouse button and the other one with your right mouse button. What this does is give more freedom during fights to choose between melee type of attacks (BloodRayne has two nasty blades strapped to her wrists), and ranged weaponry, which includes all manners of fire arms like bazookas and chainguns. I should also mention that the physics engine works very well and that almost every object in the game is destructible. Granted, I've seen all of this done better in some of the upcoming games at E3, but for a title that's already out in Europe and will hit the shelves in the US on June 10 it is pretty damn amazing. More importantly, the fluid mechanics of the gameplay work perfectly with the advanced technology which powers the Inferno Engine. Ergo, the action segment in BloodRayne is probably only topped by Max Payne.

The levels themselves are decently designed. As I said, the game is linear but the designers have provided a nice enough combination of indoor and outdoor environments and some very interesting boss creatures to keep the player interested at all times. The level design and puzzles are not nearly as versatile as in say, Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, but they're tough enough to provide a decent challenge for the player. The same goes for the AI routines. Nazis are fairly smart and I couldn't notice any serious flaws in their behavior while playing the game. The AI code never took my attention away from the action, which is good enough for me.

The only thing that this game truly lacks is a half-decent story and professional voice acting. Action adventure games are as much about the story and character development, as they are about cool action and dazzling 3D effects. Unfortunately, BloodRayne is completely lacking in this department. The story is mundane, uninspiring, and above all, is not conveyed well. It never really grabs your attention as the game never bothers to truly explain any of the character's motives, much less explaining the story's chapter jumps. One minute, you're fighting swamp monsters with your vampire teacher and the next thing you know, Nazis with ancient relics come out of nowhere and you're supposed to fight them for some reason. Not only is the narrative disjointed, but it's clich' as well.

The plot has done virtually nothing to further my interest in this game. Tolkien once said that people are usually attracted to the history behind a story, and the realization that there is a huge wealth of information and proceedings that led up to the events in it. BloodRayne has virtually none of this. You don't feel a part of the game world, and you don't know why you are there. The history behind it all isn't properly explained and the narrators have failed to create a living and breathing fantasy world.

Not to mention that the voice acting is amateurish at best. Rayne sounds flat and boring; quite the opposite of what I would imagine her character is supposed to sound like.

In summary, great action, smooth controls and a very good 3D engine can only do so much for a game. Ultimately, you have to have a decent story in there and some good voice acting to make the entire thing believable and immersing. Without these crucial components an action adventure game can never truly become great. BloodRayne is a decent action-adventure that should provide players with some fun moments, albeit without any background or meaning to it. I had fun with it, but not as much fun as I could've had if the story and voice acting were even half-decent.

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HIGHS
Great engine, smooth controls, great action sequences;

LOWS
The story is disjointed and weak. The characters don't have any depth to them. Voice acting is appalling, and so is the soundtrack.

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