October 26, 2004 > BloodRayne 2
Platforms: Xbox, Playstation 2
by Jeremy Inman
You almost feel guilty playing BloodRayne 2. Almost. Every once in a while, a game comes along that pushes the limits of what developers can accomplish with a Mature rating. BloodRayne 2 is definitely one of these titles. Take an openly sadistic, half-human, half-vampire heroine in a skimpy leather outfit and throw in two 3-foot blades capable of lopping off chunks of enemy flesh with a precision that developers have never bothered (for a reason) to include in any game prior to this, and you've got a recipe for pure, sticky carnage. The true test of a title of this nature is whether or not the game is still fun after the shock value of slicing off someone's skull cap wears thin. It turns out that BloodRayne 2 is worth getting vamped up for. No pun intended.
This is not a game for the kiddies. Even with Halloween coming up, there's no excuse for anyone under the age of 17 to have their hands on this title. Players assume control of half-vampire heroine Rayne, first introduced in 2002's BloodRayne. In the first title, players found Rayne in the 1930s, slaying Nazis and evil vampires alike in an attempt to hunt down the vampire responsible for the death of her family (and her newly-acquired allergy to sunlight). In the cleverly titled BloodRayne 2, which takes place in a modern day fictional city, Rayne is back and she hasn't aged a day (she's a vampire, after all). It's up to the player to continue Rayne's quest for vengeance by systematically eliminating her twisted extended family of bloodthirsty Bela Lagosis. And you thought your family was bad.
BloodRayne 2 absolutely pushes the limits for the amount of gore developers can cram into one title. Extra care was given to ensure that each enemy body reacts realistically to the punishment that main character is capable of dishing out and that every fountain (yes, fountain) of blood both looks and sounds realistic. The game makes good use of rag doll physics, which causes bodies to react disturbingly realistically to the effects of gravity. Knock a guy into a railing and he flips over it, cascading to the floor below. Throw him through a window and, what's that? He falls. And this is just when the body is still in one piece. Rayne comes equipped with two massive blades that she can wield with alarming precision. Instead of opting to include a few standard dismemberment animations, game creator Terminal Reality gave Rayne's wrist blades the ability to realistically slice through the competition in a very literal sense. A vertical chop down the middle can slice an enemy into two pieces that then fall realistically apart. You can even take a little off the top by nipping off your foe's skullcap. The same slice of Rayne's blade might even pass through several areas of an enemy's body, perhaps removing both his arm and his upper torso. There is a point to these gory descriptions. The game is simply over-the-top gory. And it gets worse. In order to sustain Rayne's health, players must attach to the occasional enemy for a much-needed withdrawl from the blood bank. Without getting into too much detail, Terminal Reality made sure to make it unquestionably clear that Rayne really enjoys what she's doing. Dialogue and some questionable animations shed some often unwelcome light on the game's unsettling sexual undertones.
All this nastiness aside, the question remains: Is BloodRayne 2 a worthwhile action game? Absolutely. For the majority of gamers out there who feel right at home surrounded by constant blood spatter and ceaseless dismemberment, BloodRayne 2 offers up an admittedly satisfying action experience. Rayne is your typical half-vampire, half-human hero (think Blade) and she has all of the acrobatic abilities of your typical creature of the night, along with that nagging little voice in her head - a conscience. Albeit Rayne could definitely stand to play a little nicer, she is the game's heroine. As such, she comes equipped with a rather extensive arsenal of acrobatic abilities, projectile weapons, martial arts and special maneuvers. Just to name a few genre-standard examples, Rayne can perform back flips and dodges, high and low melee attacks, a high-reaching double jump and a series of fierce combos. A few of her more unique maneuvers include both vertical and horizontal gymnastic pole navigation, a handy harpoon chain that can be launched at enemies and then used to fling them in a desired direction, and a host of vampire powers that include abilities such as amplified strength and slow motion. Combining all of these abilities leads to some interesting and unique game play. Players can hang upside down from a horizontal pole firing their dual pistols, they can slide down stairway railings with their blades extended to mow down anyone in their path, or they can swing around a vertical pole with a flourish of kicks to knock down everyone in their radius. The combinations that individual players can come up with vary greatly, and the options go a long way in keeping the game play relatively fresh.
The bottom line: BloodRayne 2's over-the-top adult content will surely be enough to scare off the faint of heart, but some truly entertaining game play, some very polished visuals, and the versatility of the fighting system will surely be enough to keep gamers entertained until the fun of completely dismembering hoards of evil vampires stops being fun.