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They killed her! They killed Rayne! - Elf M. Sternberg
They killed her! They killed Rayne!
Those of us who were big fans of BloodRayne have been waiting for a while for BloodRayne 2 to come out. It's release date is technically tomorrow, but some of us more, um, frothing fans have been lucky enough to score an early release of a demo CD containing the first level of the new game.

Unfortunately, I have to report that if this is even close to the final release, then I'm not at all happy with what's happened.

BloodRayne is set in 1936. Rayne is physically about 20 but has been a half-vampire for at most fifty years; we know this because her adoptive father is still around, although we see his murder in a flashback as she takes on to slaughtering the Nazis.

BloodRayne 2 is set in "today." And that's where the problem starts. The story set up is that Rayne has been doing things for the past 60 years, routing out the last little bits of the vampire empire, and is in New Orleans (of course) to take out one of the big centers. The story opens on a mansion as Rayne starts investigating, and is soon neck-deep in vampires.

The graphics engine is a little uncomfortable. You have a free camera that you can pan all around Rayne as she stands still. If you move the camera and then move yourself, you turn away from the camera, such that your sight is soon over your shoulder. (I'm a transhumanist and SF writer; I can get away with sentences like that.) During combat, my instincts to turn towards the person attacking me worked against me and I frequently found that I could not see the fight at all.

It's a newer-generation graphics engine, not Doom III or Half-Life 2 or wank-worthy Final Fantasy XII quality, but it does give the animators a much broader palette to work with. Being a vampire game, they go for red in a big way, and sure enough, at the end of combat there's blood spilled everywhere. They worked hard to get it on the walls, the floor, even on the ceiling if you deliver a particularly brutal uppercut. There are some awkward moments-- the cut-scenes are rendered with the game engine and one can see clearly the poor animation done on hands and wrists.

But the real problem with the game is Rayne herself.

In the original game, Rayne was cute. She was badass and nasty and a mass murdereress and all the good things we'd come to expect from her, but there were a few things we liked about her: she worked alone, she dressed in very fetishy leather, she would defend her friends to the death, and when not in the heat of combat she had a kittenish bewilderment, a "what the Hell am I doing here?" look to her that was very endearing.

It's quite clear that all of that was an accident. In Bloodrayne 2 she does not work alone, but it's almost painfully clear that she doesn't care that much if Simon gets killed. The new graphics engine gives us a Rayne whose face is no longer that of a pale, wide-eyed girl but now a on-the-verge-of-world-weary homicidal bitch. In my original review I said that if you were on her good side, Rayne could be "good company." This Rayne is not good company for anyone. The camera engine lets you do all the close-ups you want on Rayne's body, but she's not as well-drawn as the original, too thin, less the lean body of a twenty-something and more the emaciated body of a starvation diet.

If the first level is any indication, Majesco has failed to capture the flame they released with BloodRayne, and instead with 2 we get a guttering little spark, nasty, vicious, and not nearly as much fun.

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed
Current Music: Katamari Damacy OST, Cherry Blossom Season

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