BloodRayne 2 Review
Underneath BloodRayne 2's problems is a stylish and gory action game with enough kills and thrills to keep you entertained.
Stop us if you've heard this one before. A half-human, half-vampire antihero, along with a long-haired, trench coat-sporting associate, goes to war with the largely underground society of vampires who are looking to come up in the world and turn the human race into their slaves. No, they didn't make another lousy Blade game. It's BloodRayne, that other half-human, half-vampire hunter of bloodsuckers everywhere. Originally debuting in 2002 as the busty, redheaded alternative to Wesley Snipes' comic book-inspired vampire hunter, the original BloodRayne game put you in control of the title heroine Rayne, who hunted down Nazi's, vampires, and Nazi vampires in the 1930s. The game featured a fairly straightforward story and style of gameplay that, while not spectacular, proved to be a pretty entertaining experience for fans of comic book-style action games. BloodRayne 2, the suitably named sequel, punches up the stylish action of its predecessor, giving Rayne a whole new slew of enemies to chop up, as well as a whole host of new ways in which to do it. Regrettably, the game still suffers from being just a tad too straightforward for its own good, and it ultimately feels a little unrefined. However, this is still a fast and fun action game, regardless of its problems.
When we last left our vivacious, vampiric vixen Rayne, she had just put the squeeze on her evil vampire father, who had been working with the Nazis and doing all manner of evil deeds. At the beginning of this game, which is now set in modern times, Rayne is on the hunt for her siblings in her expansive family. It seems that Rayne's dad had been quite the rolling stone, fathering scads of both pure-blood and half-breed vampires all over the world. However, Rayne soon stumbles upon a reunion of sorts between her father's many children, who are conspiring to produce a "vampire apocalypse" of sorts, by unleashing an insidious new weapon called The Shroud. The Shroud is basically a blood-fueled blanket that covers the sky, allowing vampires to walk around in the daylight and essentially do as they please. Obviously, this aggression will not stand, and it's up to you, as Rayne, to quell this vampiric uprising and prevent humanity from becoming vampire cattle.
Rayne's basic gameplay focuses largely on style over substance, though it isn't necessarily shallow. Rayne comes equipped with a pair of arm-mounted blades as well as some rather nasty kicks, and both her slashes and kicks are assigned to specific controller buttons. Simply pressing one or the other in succession creates some basic combo attacks, but by holding down the left trigger button on the Xbox, or the L1 button on the PS2, Rayne will target a specific enemy and gain a whole new set of dodges and counterattacks, which come in especially handy against some of the quicker boss enemies. When distance is required, Rayne has a chain she can use to latch onto an enemy and simultaneously send him or her flying in any desired direction. Rayne also has access to a pair of blood-powered guns called the Carpathian Dragons. The Dragons require blood to work, and if you run out of ammo, they'll begin draining Rayne's blood supply. Thankfully, there are more than a few enemies scattered throughout the game who are willing to donate to the cause.
By enacting Rayne's "feed" attack, so long as an enemy is vulnerable (meaning it isn't holding a large weapon with which to smack her down), Rayne will pounce on the poor schmo and dive straight for the jugular. This is how Rayne gains health throughout each level, and in the process, she can also reload her blood guns by pressing the fire button while drinking up. Once you're done with your blood donor, you can either just toss that enemy aside, or kill him or her in spectacular fashion by using one of Rayne's execution moves. By performing one of a few different button combos, Rayne will do anything ranging from simple stabbings to out-and-out slicing and dicing of an enemy, sending limbs, torsos, and heads flying every which way. These moves are gruesome and hysterical, though unfortunately, there aren't a ton of them--only 12 in all--so they do get a little repetitive after a while.
Fortunately, this is not the only method of execution the game provides you, as Rayne has several contextual moves she can use to put the pain on the bad guys as well. For example, Rayne can slide down certain pipes and rails, and while she is sliding, you can make her extend her blades outward, thus sticking any enemies that might be standing along your slide path. Another example comes from Rayne's chain attack. Several puzzles in the game require an object--like a wood chipper or a garbage truck--that is blocking your path to be clogged or jammed in order to pass. How do you do this? By sticking a baddie with your chain and flinging him into the aforementioned object, resulting in a bloody mess. There are also all sorts of sharp objects you can fling enemies into outside of kill puzzles. Rayne is also a fairly nimble little minx, and she can hop, skip, and jump all over levels with Prince of Persia-like precision. Every single level in the game contains at least a few lengthy jump puzzles, which feature bars she can hang from, pipes she can climb up, and so on and so forth. From these bars, Rayne can angle herself in such a way so she can shoot enemies from her perched position, thus making her tough to shoot. Aiming this way is a little tricky at first, but it works well enough once you get used to it.
The remainder of Rayne's abilities comes in the form of special moves and powers that are tied into a meter below her health meter. These abilities include a special aura vision that lets her see enemies in other rooms as well as secret entrances; a time-shifting ability that lets you slow the action down into bullet-time, and even lets you speed up Rayne so she's significantly faster than the rest of what's onscreen; and special blood rage and fury abilities, which power up Rayne's attacks quite a bit and make her pretty much impervious to harm for as long as the bar stays powered up. These moves are all inherently useful, but unfortunately, they're too useful. None of the enemies in the game--save for some of the bosses--are tough enough to stand up to Rayne normally, let alone when her special abilities meter is at full strength. So really, all you need to do is save your blood rage mode until you're up against a particularly strong enemy, and most times you'll be able to slice right through that enemy in no time. Some boss enemies require specific attacks and patterns to beat, but many of them can be easily defeated with simple button mashing while the blood rage or fury is turned on.