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The GoodRayne is a half-vampire secret agent, who judging by the way she dresses and uses a pole, moonlights as a stripper. Sure, it's a bit lowbrow (and by a bit, I mean as much as it possibly can be), but it takes this concept and runs with it. From the cheat code that gives her H-cups to the porny noises she makes when biting, BloodRayne 2 is cheap and tawdry through and through.
The harpoon is back from the first game, but is no longer used to reel people in for a bite. Now, you can grab people and throw them. Besides the improvised bowling games, you can throw people off railings, through windows, into fire, onto spikes and pull large objects down on top of them. In one of the flashiest new features, there are a number of trigger points where throwing a guy into the right hazard triggers a brief cutscene where he smashes through another window on the landing or something. All it’s lacking is landing on a car and setting off the alarm. This is the basis for the new carnage-points mechanic. There is a slider over the health and rage points which moves to the right whenever you do fancy kills, meaning pretty much anything with the harpoon. When it hits the right, Rayne's health and rage are increased permanently, which is indicated by her saying a new line with each upgrade.
The rage meter is semi-new. It's closely related to bloodlust in the first game, but bloodlust was only drained by blood rage and rage attack. As before, it is built up through direct attack on enemies (meaning fatalities and slashing and kicking). Rage is drained not only by blood rage, by dilated perception now consumes it at a slower rate, meaning no more making the game even easier by running around with dilated perception on all the time. There are also a bunch of new powers.
As before. dilated perception makes the whole game run in slow motion. You can now upgrade it to superspeed, where you move at regular speed and the rest of the game is slow motion and freeze time where nothing moves but you. These use rage progressively faster and are useful at a number of points unlike most of the other upgraded powers.
Extruded vision, which was essentially sniper mode, is out. This isn't really needed with the new weapons system and was the basis of a rather unfair final boss fight in the original. Its position of the d-pad has been taken by blood rage, which now has several progressively more powerful versions throughout the game. The first essentially just makes you even faster and more damaging. The final is blood storm, which is a red cyclone that just kills everyone in your vicinity.
Aura vision from the first game is back, though with a slightly different color scheme. This lets you see all your enemies, even through walls, see objectives and see what you can climb and grind on. It can be upgraded to ghost feed, where Rayne apparently sends out her soul to attack one enemy while her body is otherwise engaged. I never found any place in the game where this was necessary or even particularly useful, but it sure looks cool. Enthrall is the third upgrade, which switches enemies to Rayne's side. It is similarly neat and extraneous.
Speaking of climbing and grinding, Rayne's repertoire has expanded a bit. Rather than climbing boring old ladders, she's now shimmying up vertical poles and sliding back down, more in the manner of an exotic dancer than a fireman or an Iranian noble and swinging around horizontal ones to launch herself like the aforementioned prince, though unlike him, she can perch herself on top of the pole to use her guns. She can also hop onto stair railings and such and grind down like Bob Burnquist in platform heels, cutting down anyone in her way.
Combat is greatly improved. The first game basically had you stand in front of someone and repeatedly mash the attack button. Actually, you'd usually just bite them since they couldn't fight back. This adds kicking and a bunch of combo moves and biting can be countered by guys with melee weapons if you attack from the front, meaning you'll have to disarm them or try to get behind. There are also a good number of unbitable vampiric enemies.
There quite a few puzzle sequences. I use the term puzzle loosely as most consist of throwing enemies into something until it breaks, but to keep it interesting, there are a number of variants on this, like enemies that keep blocking or a big, unthrowable guy who will flatten you if you stand still.
Boss fights are for the most part quite clever. Most of them involve some sort of puzzle, though rarely anything difficult. This mainly serves to mix things up, unlike the first game where, with about two exceptions, boss fights consisted of activating blood rage and jamming on the attack button. I think Slezz, toward the middle of the game is the standout here. It's a giant, grotesque female demon (with full nudity) that throws exploding people at you. It’s hard to top something like that.
Instead of the variety of firearms from the original, Rayne now uses the same pair of Carpathian Dragons (blood guns) throughout the game. Instead of different guns, she now has different firing modes which are earned throughout the game. As the name implies, they use blood for ammunition, which is drained from enemies. If the tanks run dry, they suck blood out of Rayne. Modes cover most of the original weapons with everything from machine guns to shotgun to mines to rocket launchers represented.
The BadThe game is technically quite rough in a number of ways. It has some fairly common problems. It's clearly a multiplatform game and doesn't really look any better than its PS2 counterpart. Like many games, it seems to have trouble with proper shadowing as well. There are plenty of instances where Rayne is running across a catwalk and casting a shadow on the wall, but the catwalk has no shadow, leaving hers oddly floating. The angle often makes no sense in regards to the lighting as well and it may suddenly pop to a different direction.
Lip sync is quite approximate. Characters move their mouths roughly at the same time as they are speaking, but not in-time with their speech. It's like watching a dubbed movie.
One of the biggest problems is the glitchy AI. Many times, I saw an enemy running in place against a railing or something which was between him a Rayne and he couldn't just go around. In fact, I beat the final boss because he was running in place while Rayne refilled her health.
This wouldn't be too bad except the technical problems carry over to the controls. When people are stuck in place, Rayne often can't bite them. Jumps are a bit floaty and hard to control. I wish they had gotten the physics that affect gameplay as polished as the boobie physics.
While some enemies are harder to bite, BloodRayne 2 suffers from the same basic problem as BloodRayne 1 in that you essentially have walking health packs all over every level. In some ways it's worse because you don't have high-damage enemies this the SS guys with panzerfausts or the sewer zombies with poisonous blood. This means there are only a couple difficult parts, which are mainly when you get thrown into an event with low starting health.
There are blood fountains (called vampire lairs) hidden through the game that you can find with aura vision. They don't do anything except refill your health and rage, which is generally pretty easy to do anyway. Those familiar with the Sands of Time may expect their health bar to increase or something, but no such luck. This is a major missed opportunity for secrets. In fact, there is more or less no replayability here.
While the boss fights themselves are good, several are lengthened in a rather tedious manner by having Rayne take damage (largely unavoidable), then run around and bite about a dozen of the infinite goons to refill her health, do some more damage, rinse and repeat. The worst was the penultimate boss, who in addition to this problem, could only be damaged with a specific firing mode, which I don't think was really hinted at. This was the only boss where I had this complaint, though. I'd also complain that none of the set pieces can quite match the best of the first game, in particular the walking tank fight.
The story is choppy. Many things aren't explained like where these goons are coming from and even which ones are vampires. The editing in the cutscenes doesn't help things as there are a number of choppy cuts that make it look like Rayne teleported, making it difficult to follow what's happening. The whole mythos of the game is never spelled out or properly hinted at. It’s like the developers didn’t think it was important, which is a big issue for a fantasy setting. As I implied, this is pure exploitation and lacking any attempt at not only literary qualities, but character depth and most everything else we associate with good fiction. You may like this or not.
There are targeting problems. While it isn't an issue through the whole game, there are several places, particularly the fight against the Unraveller, where you can tell what you're suppose to target, but won't seem to lock onto it until you figure out you need to just stand there and cycle through targets. It isn't at all smart about figuring out what you intend to lock on to.
The blood guns, while cool, lack much of the panache of the human weapons used in the original. I barely touched them. After all, they don't give you health, rage or carnage and there are plenty of other ways to kill people. Not having to decide which weapons you want to take with you removes a great deal of strategy from the game and there's no equivalent to the grenades, which were some of my favorites. The final boss, while not manifestly unfair like the original lacks the thrill of the sniping, grenading and rocketing used to wear down a powerful foe.
Everything is unrelentingly linear where you are herded through a series of hallways toward your goal. This is in sharp contrast to the original, which largely gave you open areas to navigate as you see fit.
The health and rage boosts could also have been handled better. There’s no visual indicator of the upgrade. The meters don’t change, they just drain more slowly, and Rayne’s appearance doesn’t change either, which is a shame as visual upgrades to a character are a proven reward structure. I also hit the maximum upgrades only about halfway through the game. It gave no real indication of this. The carnage indicator just stopped moving and Rayne said she felt like she could go all night. It wasn’t really the proper end to an upgrade sequence.
The Bottom LineImagine Prince of Persia with stiffer controls and somewhat different powers or Tomb Raider with twice the titillation and thirty times the violence.
The game is decent. It is better than the original overall, though it does not beat it across the board in every category. Having various streets punks with occasional bondage models as enemies just isn't as thrilling as Nazis, but that was largely unavoidable. I get the impression it could have been much better with a few more weeks in development.
The various technical glitches really detract from the game, especially the poor path finding and it would have been a much tighter package if features like the guns were used more and a lot of the powers were worked into scenarios: for instance, if there were a boss where you had to enthrall their minions into killing them. This has been the standard way to structure this kind of game since at least the days of Metroid and Zelda and for good reason. It's like a poorly edited movie that goes on and on with scenes not really related to the plot.
This is a good choice for fans of vampsploitation but comes sadly far short of its potential. It isn’t good enough to have a really broad appeal, but you probably know whether you’re the sort of person who would like. The ending set up an intriguing premise for a third game, but that will sadly probably never happen.