Tacky vampire action from Terminal Reality.

10It’s really hard not to collapse into a black hole of cynicism when playing Bloodrayne. It’s even more confusing when the game doesn’t entirely suck. See, once you dig past the tiresome layouts and endless jumping segments of the early Louisiana levels, a startling revelation occurs: there’s finally some pretty good game design going on. BloodRayne’s subsequent trek through Argentina and, eventually, a German fortress is surprisingly well-paced, with some tense battles against a fairly wide variety of Nazi and demonic foes.

Tactical thinking suddenly leaps into play as the you’re forced to pick key targets and use BloodRayne’s prodigious vampire skills such as the Matrix-esque “time dilation†or her explosive “bloodlust†to cut down the high-powered baddies all the while using lesser minions for food (health) or as human shields.

It’s quite a rush to nail a Nazi general with a rocket, leap two stories to chain-grab his bodyguard in a death embrace and then swivel him into the path of the streams of tracer fire that endlessly pursue you. The later bosses are more personable foes, and the gore isn’t wasted when you finally get an opportunity to slice ‘em down. Unfortunately, there’s a few quibbles with the game that hurt the quality overall. The hand-to-hand combat animation is stilted, and the ridiculous high-speed “walk†of the characters in the cutscenes is bizarre. It’s also hard to tell the difference between most of the guns in the game during the heat of battle.

BloodRayne is a schizophrenic title, caught somewhere between its teenaged visual aesthetic and some moments of truly solid game design. If you can dig past the first four hours of dreadful level design and pacing, and endure the godawful cinematography of the cutscenes, you’ll find a pretty wicked diamond in the rough.

System Requirements: Pentium III 300 Mhz, 128 MB RAM, Win 95

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