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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

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I've always had a bit of a soft spot for vampires. From Bram Stoker's chilling classic Dracula to more modern fiction such as George R. R. Martin's very evocative Fevre Dream, stories about vampires have the power to make one's spine tingle. Perhaps it's because vampires are so much like humans, but have their lethal, supernatural powers; or perhaps it's because of the suspense, atmosphere and romantic settings of the stories in which they usually appear. I think it's a combination of all those factors that make them appeal to me.

On the other hand, maybe the popular appeal has more to do with all the blood that gets sucked and splashed about by vampires. That appears to have been Terminal Reality's main motivation behind the creation of BloodRayne, anyway.

Set in the 1930s, between the two world wars, BloodRayne is all about a young female dhampir (a human-vampire cross) who works for a secretive Brimstone Society. Her duty in the game is to rid the world of the rising threat posed by the Nazis, who are intent on ruling the world through the use of supernatural powers.

Gameplay: not Castle Wolfenstein again, surely?
It's not been long since I finished playing through Return to Castle Wolfenstein, a game that involves ridding the world of Nazis who are intent on using supernatural evils to rule the world. Next thing I know, I find myself reviewing BloodRayne, which involves ridding the world of Nazis who are intent on using supernatural evils to rule the world.

Forgive my feelings of déjà vu. It might just be my imagination, but I do detect a certain lack of originality here... It's especially apparent in the latter stages of the game, where you find yourself running around snowy castles fighting Germans. It wouldn't perhaps be too bad if this revisitation of an old idea were particularly brilliantly executed, but unfortunately that isn't the case.

The key difference in BloodRayne is of course the eponymous heroine. Rayne takes centre stage at all times and is able to perform some pretty spectacular acrobatics. BloodRayne is a kind of cross between Tomb Raider and Return to Castle Wolfenstein, with all the restraint removed (this isn't a game for the squeamish). Unfortunately, much of the fun and variety of those other two games has been removed as well.

BloodRayne is a game in three parts. There's even a story that runs right through it, though it's so ludicrously implausible and badly thought-out that I can almost hear Bram Stoker's coffin spinning like a tumble-dryer. This game does not represent classic vampire fiction. I won't embarrass you with the details, but the first part of the game, set in Louisiana, involves Rayne running around a flooded village, killing all the people who have caught a plague which turns them into zombies. She also has to hack up a number of very nasty spiders that pop up from under the ground, and at the end of each level she must destroy a 'biomass' mother-creature thing that spews more spiders at her.

Being a dhampir rather than a full vampire, Rayne is not hurt by being in the light, and she is not killed by water. It does makes her sizzle a bit, though, so she needs to avoid bathing as much as possible. Needless to say, this means that many of the levels in Louisiana are amply filled with the wet stuff.

Once the unpleasantness in Louisiana has been dispatched, that's it. You finish with that game and start on the next one. That's what it feels like, anyway: there is no credible story link to join the Louisiana stage with the Argentina and Germany stages that follow it. I'm all for variety in a game, but there does need to be at least some semblance of continuity.

The Argentina levels all take place inside buildings (and, at the end, a mine), so there are no geographical cues; you could be anywhere. This section is by far the largest in the game, and involves quite a lot of travelling back and forth between levels; it's quite easy to get lost, because most of the time you're stuck in a maze of corridors. The objective here is to take out a lot of key German officers. These are the ones at the centre of the plan to unleash supernatural evil on the world, but it's all gone a bit wrong for them, and nasty creatures are invading their soldiers' bodies and turning them into (you guessed it!) zombies.

Next, it's on to Germany, where the objective is just the same (eliminate officers), but this time set in a snowy half-ruined castle. The story is sufficiently silly as to end up with Rayne having to fight a devil (the Devil?), who has been reconstructed from a number of loose body parts. Honestly, you'd think those Nazis would have learnt not to mess with such things by now.


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