Bloodrayne 2
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox, PS2
Publisher
Majesco
Developer
Terminal Reality
Genre
Action/Shooter
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language
 
Grade
The Good

• Improved graphics and gameplay
• Lots of brutal action
• Music and mood works nice

The Bad

• Graphics and mechanics still need polishing
• Repetition of "puzzle" elements
• Blood-based guns an iffy decision

 
Grade
B+

The first Bloodrayne, featuring the sexy, hyper-violent dhampir (half vampire, half human) Rayne, was, by and large, a guilty pleasure. The game itself showed signs of promise but was muddled by a mediocre effort that gave some standard action tempered by a graphics engine that could use some more depth. To address these complaints, Terminal Reality has returned with a sequel that adds much needed depth to the combat and a noticeably improved graphics engine.

The story behind this sequel is set in modern days, some years after the first. Rayne is on a revenge kick, trying to wipe out the bloodline of her father. During her mission, she runs across a gathering of her siblings who are in the process of a grand plan to create a "vampire apocalypse" by manufacturing The Shroud, a veil of blood that allows the vampires to go out into the world during daylight.

The core gameplay engine is relatively unchanged from the first game. Rayne comes armed with two arm-mounted blades that players can use with the melee attack button. She can also kick, lock onto enemies, jump and even sidestep when locked onto an enemy. Since she is part vampire, players can jump onto enemies to drain blood to regain health. Rayne also has a harpoon which is primarily used to grab and throw enemies into various environmental objects. You'll soon find that the harpoon toss is needed on a lot of "puzzles" to progress in the game.

This time around, Rayne actually can perform a limited group of combos with her kicks and slashes and earns new attacks and abilities as the game progresses. She also comes equipped with a special set of guns that can only be refilled by jamming them into enemies, much like her own need to feed on blood. Her abilities range from being able to see auras (always good for figuring out where targets and goals are) to slowing down time to a Blood Rage for improved hyper-violent combat when needed. Rayne also has more acrobatic abilities, like being able to grind down a rail, jump from poles or even fire her guns while hanging from poles. It won't take too long for players to figure out there is a much larger focus on platforming this time around, but not at the expense of being too platforming heavy.

Visually, Bloodrayne 2 is a definite step up from the previous incarnation. Just about everything in the game looks a good bit better than before, including character models, effects and locations. Rayne's model shows a lot of improvement, especially when it comes to poly count, details and textures. Her animations are better, feeling more fluid and natural. Enemy designs show some interesting concepts, though most of the minions fell like your standard Goth fare. Locations are huge and have a lot of environmental details that ground the player in the gameworld. Visual effects, while not top-of-the-line, do look a lot better and work nicely for the improved engine.

Audiowise, Bloodrayne 2 falls right in line with the original. Music bounces from eerie gothic to heavy metal depending on what's going on and the sound effects feel pretty solid. Rayne's sarcastic wit and one-liners do offer a good laugh during combat and the voice acting during cutscenes is passable. The problem is that the script feels pretty stale, so no amount of good voicework can make some of the lines feel less ridiculous.

While Bloodrayne 2 is an improvement, there is still a number of things that could use some extra work for the obvious sequel that's probably already being planned. The core engine could use some extra time polishing off animations and textures. From time to time, textures pop in and out, and there are some noticeable clipping and collision detection issues. Also, the gameplay needs to be balanced to focus more on the combat. Between feeding on minions for health and ammo, you may spend a lot of time jumping from one enemy to the next, which really takes away from the full blown action that the title promises. Also, the harpoon "puzzles" are cool once in a while but get old after the fifth or sixth time you do it.

While Bloodrayne 2 is a noticeable improvement and far more suggestible as a purchase than the first title, it still ends up being a guilty pleasure. The violence is over-the-top and you really have to be into the mood than the game gives you to enjoy the action. There are many things that could use some polish, but this sequel is definitely a step in the right direction.

- - Kinderfeld

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