And we’re back again with the hottest vampire vixen of yesteryear, tuned up and rereleased onto a slew of modern consoles! After reviewing BloodRayne: ReVamped (which you can read here) I figured I might as well hit up the sequel. In case you are unfamiliar, Ziggurat Interactive picked up the rights to the early 2000 hack n slash series BloodRayne and decided to slap ‘em with a host of technical updates so they could bring them back to a whole new generation of gamers. This one was more interesting to me because I never actually got around to really playing part 2 back in the day. I rented it for a night from my usual place (a nice little local rental place called Gamezone) but never got further than the mansion party, which is where the very first chapter takes place.
It is Halloween night, present day. Rayne is still with the Brimstone Society. Her liaison Severin is aiding her in her vendetta: to hunt down and kill the vampire offspring of her father, Kagan. After killing Kagan in the intro FMV, we learn that his remaining children have formed a cult that plans on bringing about a vampire apocalypse. The first on the list is Zerenski, who just happens to be throwing a lavish party at his mansion. Rayne makes a stunning ballroom entrance, walking down a grand staircase wearing an incredibly skimpy black dress. One man in the audience quips “oh ho ho, she’s definitely stimulating MY economy”. It’s the same type of goofy one-liners we’ve come to expect, although Rayne’s caustic wit seems to be a little bit subdued this time around. The story, ironically, shares a few parallels with Blade Trinity (which released that same year). While Rayne is on the hunt for the Cult of Kagan, she discovers the crafty bastards are planning to bring about true vampire supremacy by creating humans genetically altered to provide more blood for convenient feeding, and a secret device that produces a blood barrier across the sky (known as the “Shroud”) so that they may walk around during the day without fear of instant incineration. While it isn’t the most original idea, it does set the stage for the most important part: stylishly beating the ever-loving heck out of wave after wave of hapless minions.
While you’ll be slashing limbs and slicing your enemies into gory, bloody chunks, the combat itself is a departure from the lightning-quick slash n dash gun-fest of the original. Gone are the variety of firearms and ammo, replaced by a pair of legendary pistols called the Carpathian Dragons. These require blood to function; refilling them simply requires the pressing of the fire button while feeding. You can still fire them when running on empty, but they will damage Rayne with every shot fired. Honestly, I barely ever used them. They don’t deal much, if any damage to bosses and sub-bosses, and I didn’t feel like wasting time refilling them when it was more important to drain minions of their blood to restore Rayne’s health instead. They receive upgrades as you go along, which merely changes their functions from dual pistols to other types of firing modes; like shotgun blasts and timed explosive bullets, for example. The most use I got out of them was to take out long-range minions or triggering explosions by shooting at propane tanks and other explosive hazards. Rayne still has some of her special powers, like a vision mode that highlights enemies and interactive objects, time dilation, and blood rage. These powers are upgraded to more powerful versions of themselves as you progress through the story, to the point where time dilation can completely stop time and blood rage gets even more, uhhh, bloodier. Rayne even gains a power later on that allows her to “ghost feed”, sending out a spectral version of herself to munch on a bad guy so she can keep on truckin’. And by truckin’, I mean mercilessly dismembering her foes in the most gruesome of ways. I like the idea of slowly unlocking new powers via progression, but it would have been more fun to have access to this stuff earlier on.
The hand-to-hand combat is much more fleshed out this time around, trying to be as close to a 3D fighting game as possible. You can use Rayne’s iconic dual arm blades to assault enemies, or you can opt to unleash some fancy kicks if you feel like something different. You can only string a few measly hits together, but target locking onto someone gives you a much wider range of combos to use on them. Target locking also turns your jump into a series of stylish flips and other avoidance techniques. Bringing up the pause menu even gives you a full list of Rayne’s techniques, something you would normally only see in a tournament-style fighting game. My only issue with this is that the camera is often zoomed in too close to Rayne to see the baddies running up behind her, resulting in some pretty cheap shots if you aren’t quick enough. Another fun addition is the fatalities. While Rayne is feeding, you can commit around a dozen different brutal fatalities with a simple button press or two. Not only is it entertaining, but it helps refill your ability bar.
As it came out a few years after the original BloodRayne, it makes sense that part 2 looks much sharper. The character models look pretty good and the level design is much more complex than the original, featuring some fancy platforming and environmental interaction. Unfortunately, the platforming sections are easily the worst part of the game thanks to the wild camera movements and janky controls. They include shimmying up and swinging around on poles, but the movements and transitions never quite have that fluid feeling to them. It gets even worse when you’re trying to sluggishly maneuver Rayne into a position to jump and a bunch of stupid minions are opening fire on her, slowly chipping away her health. It isn’t so bad for the first few levels but as you progress they get more complex, adding nothing but aggravation.
All right, let’s talk about Rayne’s harpoon because that son of a bitch deserves its very own section. In the first BloodRayne, the harpoon’s sole use was to Scorpion-style drag her victims over to her for easy feeding. While it no longer performs that function anymore, it does serve other uses. Using the harpoon to latch on to an enemy allows you to throw them around in any direction with the flick of the analog stick. Thanks to the ragdoll physics engine, it is really fun watching people fly around banging into stuff. There are many environmental hazards around to gruesomely kill your prey with, impaling them on the likes of forklift forks, sharp spikes, or simply tossing them off of high buildings. This is a part of the game I really enjoy. The next part: not so much. There are quite a few times during the game where you will face a stream of never-ending goons until you manage to harpoon-whip them into a certain part of the environment to proceed. For example, to get past a security gate in a later level, you need to damage a group of pipes by throwing people into them, and then throw even more people into the furnaces to overload them, blowing up the whole shebang just to get past the gate. The problem with that is how unreliable the throw distance can be. When working normally, enemies will slightly home in on the nearest hazard you’re throwing them at, but often an enemy will just flop two feet from where they started. No matter how you throw them, they just can’t seem to fly any distance. On the other side of the spectrum, sometimes Rayne will whip them so hard they’ll rocket through the air like Zeus hurling bolts of lightning down from Mount Olympus. It can be tedious at the best of times, incredibly frustrating at the worst of times (which is almost always).
BloodRayne 2 also falls prey to some strangely uneven difficulty spikes. After easily breezing through the first chapter, I ran into a Kestrel vampire that serves a miniboss throughout that chapter. They’re quick little punks and the first couple of encounters pushed me to the point where I almost rage-quit. Even towards the end of the game I haven’t encountered an enemy as frustrating, though I have to add that every once in a while the basic enemies can get some lucky punches in, dealing almost half the life bar in damage. All that pales in comparison to some of the plain awful late-game bosses. The one I have in mind requires you to scale the top of a tower to destroy a ton of electrical coils in order to destroy a machine instrumental in bringing on the vampire apocalypse. Not only does an invincible boss chase after you, dishing out devastating damage with fast attacks, you also have to contend with goons, platforming, and an all-encompassing mist that deals constant damage to you. Getting stalled by scenes like this detracts from the enjoyment I had with the rest of the game, beating up and throwing around enemies with Rayne’s typical badass style.
While BloodRayne 2: ReVamped improves upon its predecessor in many ways, it also falters in some. Despite the occasional misstep while trying to reinvent itself, it is a solid game that offers hours of fun, gory combat with one of the hottest videogame characters from the early 2000s.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 7/10
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