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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Action
Min OS X: 10.2    CPU: G4 @ 733 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 2000 MB    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

August 20, 2003 | Richard Hallas

Click to enlarge

Sound: Bloody awful
There are no problems with the game's music, except that it's absolutely terrible. If you like a thumping drum-beat combined with some irritating, out of tune samples that loop round and round, then this is for you. Otherwise it doesn't seem to have much to offer, and adds nothing to the atmosphere of the game. Luckily, in-game music only crops up occasionally and doesn't tend to last very long.

Much more important is the speech, which is where various problems do occur. I found that, aside from some lines of dialogue for which the sound gave up entirely, it was very common for the speech to be clipped (so that the last word goes unspoken), or for two lines to be overlapped. Luckily there are subtitles, so you can at least tell what's being said. Occasionally, Rayne's 'ambient sounds' (grunts, gasps and so on as she jumps around) may be played twice, more or less simultaneously, producing an odd echo effect; another bug.

One for the boys
BloodRayne is rated 'Mature'. I think it's time for a new rating to be introduced: 'Immature', to mean 'for overgrown adolescents'. BloodRayne is the sort of game that the young men who installed Tomb Raider's 'Nude Raider' patch would want to play.

There are two really obvious examples of this game's attempt to fulfill its 'sexy' moniker. First, there's the surprisingly kinky-looking way in which Rayne sucks blood from her victims, and the sounds of slurpy satisfaction she makes while doing so. Second is the developers' fixation with two prominent points of interest on the female anatomy; there are three significant female characters in this game, and they're all more-than-amply proportioned. In the in-engine cut scenes, there's actually some quite good lip-synching with the speech, but it might as well not be there because you rarely see the ladies' faces. The camera unerringly focuses closely on the midriff, and every opportunity is taken to have a female character run and come to a sudden stop, or turn rapidly, in order to cause motion in her chest area. Clearly the designers have spent a lot of time making the jiggling look as convincing as possible.

No doubt these aspects were designed to make the game appeal to 'the lads', but honestly it's been overdone; the results are either amusingly laughable or embarrassingly pathetic, depending on your point of view. Anyway, the cheap thrills come across as a marketing gimmick that has been misjudged, and detract from the game rather than enhancing it. And that's before you consider the excessive amounts of blood...

Conclusion: take a Rayne-check
My harsh comments about this game may give the impression that there's nothing to recommend about it, but that's not true. Buried deep beneath all the conceptual and performance-related problems, there is actually quite a fun game here. There are many well-designed levels (though the endless corridors in the Argentina section do become tiresome), and in most respects the graphics are excellent. The vision modes are a nice idea and work well. The basic concept of playing a vampire-type character is a good one, even if its execution is rather prosaic. I did find myself having quite a bit of fun at times, so I can't say that it's a terrible game in itself.

But overall the whole game is really too derivative. Rayne can use guns (hardly original), but most of the time she's just hacking bodies to pieces with knives, and I found that this got very repetitive and tedious. I enjoyed Return to Castle Wolfenstein for its variety and strategy (plenty of sniping from a distance and avoiding detection) and Tomb Raider for its exploration aspects and puzzles, but BloodRayne is just slash, slash, slash from start to finish.

So, while it has good features, it's a B-grade game at best, even if its implementation were perfect. I don't know how well it plays on other platforms, but on the Mac the performance is just unacceptable; maybe G5 owners will be able to enjoy it. Note also that it's a play-once single-scenario offering: there's no multiplayer support of any kind.

Aspyr has done wonders for the Mac games scene in recent years, and I had every expectation that this would be another high-quality offering from a company with an excellent reputation. But sadly a turkey is a turkey no matter who has reared it, and I'm not going to pretend otherwise. If the performance problems were fixed then BloodRayne could become a reasonably fun B-grade FPS, and would be fair value if sold at half its current price. But as it stands, I'm afraid that it's definitely one to avoid.

Impressive graphics
Good quality level design that improves as the game progresses
Interesting and original 'vision modes'
Excessively violent and bloody (if you like that sort of thing)

Killer performance problems (in this Mac version at least)
Gets repetitive, especially in the endless maze-like Argentina levels
Only low-res 640x480 graphics supported
No multiplayer mode of any kind
Only possible to save position at the start of a level
Play-once single-player experience is not very engrossing
Ludicrous, incoherent and totally unoriginal storyline
Ultimately boring: too much hack-and-slash, not enough of anything else
Excessively violent and bloody (if you don't like that sort of thing)

Having given the game a bad review, I must now sheepishly thank Aspyr for supplying the screenshots that accompany this article. BloodRayne has no screen-grabbing feature, and unfortunately I found that none of the usual utilities for taking shots would work with the game.

Publisher: Aspyr Media


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