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Video Game Review – BloodRayne 2

Bloodrayne2_ps2_frontBloodRayne 2 (2004)

Developer: Terminal Reality
Publisher: Majesco Entertainment/THQ
Platforms: PlayStation 2, PC, Mac

Twelve years have passed since the first BloodRayne hit shelves the world over and in the years since it brought the fun back to gaming, fans of the franchise have seen a proper sequel that while not without its problems is still a worthy follow up to a great game, a series of exemplary comic books and, to the chagrin of not only video game fans but movie fans, three deplorable films directed by the king of terrible cinema; Uwe Boll.

If you are unfamiliar with Boll’s work, he is the one who took games like Running With Scissors’ Postal, Ubisoft’s Far Cry and Sega’s The House of the Dead and turned them into quite possibly the worst adaptations of video games ever committed to film. Put simply, Uwe Boll is the reason there is a collective groan whenever someone hears that another video game movie is in development.

The question I pose here though is not if the BloodRayne movies are worse than the games, the answer to that question is obvious. The question is whether or not the films truly led to the end of what could have been a successful series.

Plot

Seventy-five years have passed since World War 2’s advent and Rayne has been travelling the globe eliminating members of her vampiric family, none of which we actually see save a cutscene between Rayne, Kagan and the leader of the Brimstone Society that takes place in 1939. When we meet Rayne again, she and Man Friday, Severin (played, in addition to Kagan, by the ubiquitous Troy Baker who you may also know as Abel Nightroad from Trinity Blood or the vampiric antagonist of Generator Rex; Van Kleiss) are about to infiltrate the mansion of Rayne’s half-brother and current leader of the Cult of Kagan; Dariel Zerenski.

While this mostly serves as an introduction to Terminal Reality’s then new “Infernal Engine” with all its kill puzzles and all-in-one weaponry, it is also here that we learn Zerenski and his family are planning for something they are calling “the longest night” and “the long winter”. From there Rayne, who we then learn has left the Brimstone Society at some point (though a real timeframe is never really given), investigates the sudden yet linked disappearances of her unnamed city’s vagrant population.

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A cutting edge game. (Giant Bomb)

What she finds from there is a plot involving the wholesale slaughter of said homeless as well as anyone else these vampires can find in an effort to blot out the sky and allow vampire kind to walk in daylight. Preposterous premise aside, Rayne meets several other relatives from Ephemera; a “moody” reject from the local BDSM club who generally only speaks in whispers and disappears in shadows, Ferrill; a mutated vampire of sorts with perhaps a bigger potty mouth than Rayne to Slezz; an apparent vampire goddess who for an undetermined amount of time has made her home in the sewers where she spits out babies when not projectile lactating acid.

We eventually find that despite all our fighting and grinding (and compared to the first game, this one is one long grind) our way to the end that it was all for nought; the vampire apocalypse came and apparently can’t be reversed “because science”.

Gameplay

Like the first BloodRayne, I played this on the PS2 and while with the last game the worst I suffered were clunky controls, this game is, while still fun at its core, full of game breaking glitches that made me rage quit more than once. I lost count of how many times I had to reset the console because out of nowhere Rayne would begin running in circles.

The addition of “fatalities” is an interesting start but when core mechanics that worked for the first game, such as the harpoon becomes a less useful tool, it cheapens the experience a little. For the most part you will only use it to fling enemies into or off of things. The added “lock on” feature is not only tricky in combat with multiple enemies but awkward when performing simple acrobatic moves.

Graphically the game tries to be something lavish like Square Enix’s Hitman: Blood Money but fails when everything is virtually the same texture. Now, I know that this could be put down to the fact that it is a PS2 game but all things considered, it is a step backwards. That is not to say that there aren’t redeeming points here.

Once again Laura Bailey (who many may know from Saints Row: The Third, Monster High and Bleach) shines as Rayne. Her sharp quips and scathing one-liners still provide a sense of fun. Some of the death traps are entertaining and the addition of a Prince of Persia style acrobatics system is a good use of vertical space.

Overall

At the beginning of this review I posed the question of whether or not Uwe Boll was responsible for the downfall of BloodRayne and unfortunately this just isn’t the case. Between the demise of both publisher THQ and original developer Terminal Reality, and the shortcomings of this game, unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be room for games like this. Even Majesco’s dismal attempt to resurrect the franchise in the 2D side scroller format with BloodRayne: Betrayal seemed less like a concerted effort to give fans what they want and more like flogging a dead horse.

If there were any chances of a reboot to the series a la Wolfenstein: The New Order or Tomb Raider then I’m sure fans of the original games and even vampire fans alike would eat it up but for now BloodRayne is dead and I’m not entirely sure it should be revived until the right development team can give it the treatment it truly deserves.

Rating

I give this game 7/10.

Written by Leah MacDonald

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