BloodRayne is a third-person action title starring a secret operative whose mission is to wipe out opposing threats to world security. As female agent BloodRayne, players will be able to tap into her natural talents for hunting down enemies by using her traits as both a human and vampire. Armed with two wrist-mounted silver blades, Rayne can slice and dice would-be assailants as well as throw projectiles or use various firearms.
BloodRayne's primary mission will take her to an underground temple in South America, where it is rumored an elite group is trying to unite three parts of an ancient talisman to control the world. As she fights to prevent this, BloodRayne will need to consume the blood of her victims to sustain her life and increase her power. To fight her, the supernatural enemies will plan ambushes or call for reinforcements if the odds are not in their favor.
As BloodRayne becomes more proficient at killing, her abilities will increase as well. Talents include speed, agility, vision, and the ability to slow time to attack multiple enemies at once. The amount of blood she drinks also makes her stronger, beginning with Bloodlust and culminating in Bloodrage. Cinematic cut-scenes highlight certain actions for dramatic effect as well as further the story as the operative gets closer to her goal.
BloodRayne is a third-person action game where the heroine sucks the blood from the neck of a headless Nazi zombie while muttering moans of delight. That pretty much sums up the spirit of this shock-schlock gore fest. Released on consoles last year, BloodRayne now arrives on the PC. It's often sloppy or silly, but it does feature loads of outrageously bloody action.
BloodRayne's story is "Grade-A" nonsense. Borrowing liberally from the Indiana Jones movies and, even more so, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, BloodRayne pits you against Nazis who've been delving into the supernatural to find the ultimate weapon of terror. You'll get to hack hundreds of zombified Germans apart and even battle a Nazi high priest in a motorized pulpit armed with a machinegun. The main twist is that you fight these enemies as a human-vampire hybrid named Agent BloodRayne, who looks like an extra from an '80s heavy metal video in her leather dominatrix outfit.
For a game about vampires and the occult, there are almost no scares in BloodRayne. The best horror writers know the power of suggestion and that the most disturbing evil comes from what real people can do to each other, not from silly monsters. In BloodRayne, it's all about the gross-outs, as obscene-looking monsters spurt out baby critters right before your eyes and blood sprays from dismembered German soldiers.
The game starts out in the Louisiana bayou, where the locals have been turning into shambling zombie-like monsters. There you make your way from one little island or half-submerged house to another, nimbly running along power lines to stay out of the water (one of BloodRayne's only peculiar vampire weaknesses). BloodRayne is numbingly repetitive, offering up the same situations ad nauseam. Buildings and rooms in each locale tend to look the same, with a handful of models and textures seemingly used over and over. Combat encounters usually play out the same way, too, with another scampering creature right around the predictable corner.
Once you're done sloshing through the bayou, you head to secret Nazi bases where most of the rooms again look alike. In fact, you backtrack through certain big segments of one base, making the repetition that much more blatant. In addition to being tedious, some levels feature timed puzzle-like encounters. You also play through a cheap knockoff of Half-Life's Xen segment that's filled with lame jumping puzzles. Showing its console roots, BloodRayne only lets you save at the beginning of each level, not in the middle of one, so one mistake at these tasks can mean you have to restart the entire level.
By now you're probably thinking, "Man, this game sounds like total crap." Actually, it's only half crap, because for all its egregious faults, BloodRayne does offer loads of over-the-top, throw-in-the-kitchen-sink action. BloodRayne can hack monsters apart with giant blades attached to her wrists. She can kick creatures to mush. She can harpoon guards, draw them to her with a chain, and then climb on them in sexually suggestive positions and suck their blood to replenish her health. She can also lug around an arsenal of firearms. For total overkill, she gets a Matrix-style bullet time feature and a berserker mode.
BloodRayne is all about the gory combat. You can kill a German guard as he's about to throw a grenade; he'll drop it at his feet, and his limbs will explode in all directions, landing with meaty thuds and splats. More often, you'll just wade into hordes of enemies and dice them apart indiscriminately. Rayne technically has different combat moves, but combat usually end up feeling like a bunch of button mashing. On the bright side, the control scheme has been ported well for PC users: You can easily control everything with a standard WASD/mouse shooter setup, though the camera is a bit clunky and can get in the way.
Like the rest of the game, BloodRayne's presentation feels half-hearted. On the one hand, the developers took the time to put convincing German WWII propaganda posters on the walls and made sure BloodRayne's breasts jiggle for those who are titillated by cartoon characters. The monsters usually look suitably nasty and bloody. On the other hand, they lack variety, and the game's repetitive settings blur together. The few pre-rendered cutscenes are visually dramatic, but most of the in-engine cutscenes are clumsy or boring. The audio does a great job with all the slurp-and-splat sound effects, but the Germans all speak English, and BloodRayne herself sounds terminally bored as she utters pathetic one-liners with horrible timing.
These problems and the lackadaisical level design keep BloodRayne from living up to its full potential, but if you just want loads of brainless, bloody action, this game won't let you down.
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