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BloodRayne 2
Score: 88%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Majesco Games
Developer: Terminal Reality
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:
Much to the dismay of Lara Croft, Rayne is quickly becoming gaming’s new sexy symbol. Like the sultry half-vampire, BloodRayne 2 is a slick, sexy adventure, despite some nagging control and camera issues.

BloodRayne 2 features a completely overhauled engine from the first game. This means cleaner environments, better looking characters, and smooth animations. Levels are dark, gritty, and help to sell the game’s mood. Even when traveling through the mansion in the first level, there’s a creepy mystique about everything you see. Environments are also highly interactive, featuring lots of stakes, fans, and fires to kill enemies with. As expected, gore plays a big part in the game, and though it sometimes goes a little over the top, it still manages to look good without getting that goofy look seen in some games.

Background music is moody and just noticeable enough that you know it’s there, but never gets in the way of action. An eerie soundtrack plays through most of the game while a few guitar licks kick in during action sequences. Voice acting is great, but some of the one-liners by Rayne and other enemies do get a little repetitive.

After the death of Kagan at the end of WWII, Rayne has spent the last 60 years hunting down and killing Kagan’s offspring. BloodRayne 2 opens with Kagan’s children forming the Cult of Kagan -- a group dedicated to completing Kagan’s dream of an Age of the Vampire. Their plans involve something known only as “The Shroud,” a substance that, when released, would render the sun’s rays harmless to vampires. Guess who has to stop them?

Similar to the original, BloodRayne 2 is an all-out action game in the vein of Prince of Persia or Devil May Cry. A majority of the game involves Rayne taking on hordes of enemies and trying to get to the end of a level. However, the focus is more on how you kill your enemies and not how many you kill. Most puzzle elements of the game involve tossing enemies into environmental hazards. For example, one puzzle finds Rayne trapped atop a burning building. Her only means of escape is a fan duct. Unfortunately, the fan is still spinning – which means she has to harpoon enemies and toss them into the fan in order to blow it up. Yes, BloodRayne 2 revels in its gore factor, so those with really weak stomachs might want to avoid this one.

By wracking up environmental damage, Rayne will earn Carnage bonuses, which can earn increased Life and Rage levels. Unlike other games, there are no power-ups or health packs scattered throughout levels. Instead, Rayne must replenish her life points by feeding on enemies and gain Rage by pulling off combos. Rayne’s guns can also level up through use and by defeating enemies, increasing their power.

BloodRayne 2 features a number of unlockable items, including new outfits (including the requisite schoolgirl outfit), a demo reel, and a teaser trailer for the upcoming BloodRayne movie staring Kristanna Loken, Michelle Rodriguez, and Ben Kingsley.

For the most part, Bloodrayne 2 is easy – even the puzzles that require you to expertly toss victims into various machines in each area. A big part of this is because many of these tosses feel scripted. All you have to do is nudge a body in the general area of whatever you’re trying to destroy in order for the body to go crashing into it.

Enemy AI relies more on brute force and numbers rather that strategy. What little strategy you’ll have to employ is deciding when to disarm them rather than use kicks. Most enemies can be dealt with by simply harpooning them from a distance and tossing them into an environmental hazard. The only enemies that don’t fall victim to this trick are bosses, who can be just as easily handled by using the Blood Fury power.

As cool as the feeding aspect of the game is, it comes with a number of flaws. For one, health does not recharge between levels. This can become a tricky ordeal later in the game when you’re essentially facing armies of mini-bosses in succession. This is especially troublesome since you can only feed on low-level thugs with any ease. During later stages these thugs are in short supply, making for a bit of frustration.

Game Mechanics:
Rayne has a few tools at her disposal. First and foremost are her two arm-mounted blades. These allow her to pull off normal attacks as well as fatalities. These, along with her kicks, will help her to take care of close-range attackers. To deal with enemies from afar, Rayne has access to her harpoons (which are chained extensions of her blades) and the dhampire guns. Like Rayne, who gains life by feeding on her victims, the dhampire guns must also be fed in order to reload – adding a bit of strategy to the game since you’ll have to decide when to feed Rayne and when to feed the guns. New fire modes can be unlocked through use of the guns and by defeating bosses.

Rayne also has use of her vampire powers. These include things like the ability to slow and stop time, increase her defense, offense and speed. Aura Vision is another power that will likely be used the most throughout the game. This power highlights areas Rayne can climb and will also unveil paths.

The two biggest problems Bloodrayne 2 faces deal with control and camera problems. Both can be worked through, but will lead to more than a few frustrating situations. For the most part the actual handling is fine, but trying to pull off combos relies on the good old “dial-a-combo” system. A majority of the combos can be pulled off with ease (these require just tapping one or two buttons a given number of times), but others get a little tricky. This isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things since its rare that you’ll ever need some of the more advanced moves since the simple, bare-bones combos (and previously mentioned harpoon trick) get the job done. Harpooning does come with a few problems, mainly having to do with aiming.

Pressing L1 causes Rayne to target an object. Sometimes this is a close object, other times it’s a just a random object somewhere on the screen – what you hit is really up to luck. Granted you’ll usually get just what you want the first time you try, but there were times when I wanted to pull off a sick carnage move by snagging a fuel tank only to have Rayne lock-on to an enemy instead.

Bloodrayne 2 isn’t perfect, but is it still manages to be a fun game – which is the entire reason we play games in the first place.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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