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BloodRayne Preview (All)
game: BloodRayne
posted by: Shawn Rider
publisher: Terminal Reality
date posted: 09:10 AM Thu May 30th, 2002

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Sometimes it only takes one game to bring a company to the forefront. What Grand Theft Auto 3 did for Rockstar Games last year is just one of many examples. Majesco has been around since 1986, but this year everyone will know their name, due in large part to one very exciting title. BloodRayne is being sold as a \"supernatural action/horror\" game, but that barely sums it up. BloodRayne is a perfect evolution of the action genre, and it's fast-paced, blood pumping action combines the best elements of what modern games have to offer.

Developed by Terminal Reality, makers of Fly!, 4x4 Evo, and Nocturne, BloodRayne is a third-person action/adventure title that combines some of the hottest current trends in gaming in a satisfying narrative structure. Last year Max Payne brought \"bullet time\" to our attention, and this year at E3 there were loads of games, ranging from Dead to Rights to the new Bruce Lee title, using the effect. BloodRayne also makes use of bullet time, but does not rest on that single, albeit very cool, trick to make the game interesting. Bullet time is combined with several modes of vision, ranged weapon and melee combat, and a healthy dose of hit combos to round everything out. And the icing on the cake is that all of these effects serve the storyline, which not only makes them seem natural but creates a much more compelling gameplay experience.

Now that we've thoroughly jumped ahead of ourselves, let's back up and take it from the top. Agent BloodRayne is a half-human, half-vampire special operative working for a secret syndicate between the World Wars. She is sent on a mission to discover (and presumably stop) the cause of mutated humans and swamp creatures in the bayous of Louisiana, and quickly discovers that these aren't your typical backwoods, geetchee style monsters. These are products of an experiment headed by Jurgen Wulf, who is trying to secure powerful occult relics that will give the fledgling Nazi party ultimate power and lead them to their goal of ruling the world. In her travels to defeat the evil plot, BloodRayne will visit a German U-Boat installation, a mysterious temple in Argentina, and a vampire-packed castle in Germany. Needless to say, there will be plenty of opportunities to use every trick, technique, and weapon in your arsenal. Luckily, there are a lot of them.

BloodRayne packs eight weapons at any given time. Many of these are guns: machine guns, submachine guns, rifles, and pistols. She can also pick up grenades and take control of stationary (and way powerful) guns she finds laying around the levels. In addition to all of these weapons, she always carries a set of blades that attach to her wrists. These blades are upgradeable during the game, and they are a lot of fun to play with. Using the blades increases your rage meter, and, when combined with hefty doses of human blood, allow BloodRayne to go into a bloodrage ? and that's when you realize that even Agent BloodRayne's stilletto heels are edged. BloodRayne has a half dozen ways to cut you up before you hit the ground.

As mentioned, BloodRayne is half-vampire, so, naturally, she sucks blood to gain life. BloodRayne can latch onto a Nazi's neck, suck his blood, and simultaneously use him as a human shield. If that's not ruthless, what is? Nazis scream in terror as she approaches, and when she goes into bloodrage the screen becomes a ruddy nightmare of action.

As if BloodRayne needed any more assistance, she has three different vision modes to assist her. She can slow down time in order to dodge bullets. This works very similarly to bullet time in Max Payne and provides a similar satisfaction. BloodRayne can literally juke in and amongst shots from a Nazi machine gun until she's close enough to latch onto the bad guy's neck and go to town. She also has an aura vision, which allows her to see which of the baddies are the juiciest. This helps when making the crucial decision of going in for the bloodsuck or just slicing an enemy up. The last vision mode is a retinal zoom, which is handled very stylishly in the game. Because of her vampiric powers, BloodRayne needs no binoculars or scope to zoom in ? and when she zooms her eyes you can see the reflection of her retina.

Controls on all of the systems were very solid. They all follow a similar scheme, using joysticks to handle movement and camera, direction pad to toggle different viewing modes, and shoulder buttons to cycle weapons and pull off attacks. BloodRayne has superhuman strength and agility, so you can jump to places that seem much too high. This aspect of the movement really takes a little getting used to because it opens up a whole new world of techniques and possibility for taking out the bad guys. Level design, from the portion I played at E3, is excellent. I found a couple of ways to reach goals without ever feeling like I was just aimlessly roaming. The environments are very interactive ? if a guard turns on the alarm you can turn it off; if you slice up a bed, feathers come flying out.

BloodRayne is the kind of game that easily becomes more than a simple action-adventure title. The stylish 1930s setting and vampiric antihero are pretty much guarantees that there will be devout BloodRayne fanatics just based on the concept. Couple that incredible concept with rock solid gameplay, great graphics, and a beefy narrative aspect, and you've got yourself a hit. BloodRayne will make other third-person action titles look incomplete.

In all, BloodRayne looks to be a standout hit this fall. It will hit PC, Xbox, PS2, and Gamecube on or around Halloween 2002. Keep a bloodshot eye open for it and watch your back.