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BloodRayne (GameCube) artwork

BloodRayne (GameCube) review

"BloodRayne is not a taut scare game or a breathtaking artsy experience. It's an over-the-top action title with horror elements that hits all of the right marks, and sometimes that's all you need."

BloodRayne asset

Before Bayonetta broke hearts on current consoles, but after the ample-chested Lara Croft raided tombs, there was Agent Rayne. This vampiric vixen sliced and diced her way into the hearts of many games--and Nazis!--with a simple multi-platform action title with plenty of bite: BloodRayne. It's the kind of title that hints at what to expect, utilizing both Blood Omen's blood-drinking and Max Payne's gunplay.

It's difficult not to love this game. Honestly, I tried hating it. Every schlocky instance of vapid voice acting and too-convenient camera angles that seemed to zoom in on polygonal rumps and bosoms at ill-fitting moments registered in my brain as poor game design. Obviously, I was thinking with the wrong sector of my gray matter! Moments like these and cheesy one-liners spewed with Stalone-esque style serve to remind us not to take the game seriously. It's merely honoring a tradition started by the campy films of the '50s and '60s, one that's still present in many of today's flicks and video games. It seeks to entertain through copious amounts of violence, sexuality and hilariously rotten dialogue, tongue firmly planted in cheek with a seductive wink. Don't get all worked up, baby, the game says, sit back, relax and enjoy it!

Cast aside your inhibitions and you can see past, and even appreciate, BloodRayne's simple mechanics. With the squeeze of either shoulder trigger, Rayne swings her deadly blades to sever pieces of her opponents or peels off a few rounds from her current firearms. Never mind that you cannot lock onto foes and thereby simplify the hack 'n slash combat, and ignore the lack of a reticle that would allow precision when using firearms. This may sound troubling at first, but after you've chopped up scores of Nazis and gunned down hordes of demons, you'll realize how liberating it is. Without a target lock system, you aren't limited to slashing one adversary at a time. Take a swing and all unfortunate creatures caught in its path will taste cold steel. Rayne also needn't worry about a reticle, since she automatically locks on to nearby opponents. She can also dual wield firearms, even heavy machine guns, allowing her to mow down multiple targets at a go.

As you advance, crowds increase in size and enemies in variety. The surest way to thin the herd is to mash like hell while remaining aware of your surroundings and minding your health (which can only be restored by latching onto a nearby victim and sucking him dry). Given that you've butchered enough baddies, you can fly into a "Blood Rage," a special mode that boosts your speed and strength, allowing you to chop till you drop. It's a perfect weapon for tough villains and boss battles, as it can drop some of the greatest challengers in a matter of seconds.

BloodRayne is not merely a joygasm of gore and jiggly breasts, though. It actually features a few solid gaming elements, like stellar level design. The game doesn't toss you into uncomplicated hallways or basic arenas, but features fleshed out levels with hidden nooks and crannies crammed with explosive goodies. For instance, while mincing Nazis in their South American compound, I happened upon a weapon storage facility packed with guns and grenades that refilled my diminishing supply. It was a ways off the main path, which itself consisted of convoluted corridors and a few areas that could only be accessed by smashing walls. As you can tell, you need to be observant in this game, otherwise you might miss small details like cracks in the brick-and-mortar or unbarred windows that grant access to required mini-boss' bunkers.

For added violent flair, the developers provided a few other goodies like a harpoon a la Scorpion. If you hanker for blood and there's some distance between you and your nearest target, you can reel him in with the flick of the wrist. Even if you don't need blood, it can be pretty entertaining to pull a Nazi into a face-smashing kick and sink your teeth into his jugular while he yells, "Get her off!" I have to wonder if that choice of words was accidental or more of the developers having fun along with players.

Were I to say that BloodRayne was a perfect game, I'd be lying through my teeth. I almost gave up within the first few levels set in Louisiana. The combat in those preliminary missions is abbreviated enough to bore. Enemies are few in number, manifesting in groups of maybe three or four at most--a far cry from the scores you'll face in later stages. It's a horrible way to begin the game because it could scare off players who might actually enjoy the more challenging and thrilling segments that follow. Also take into account that you're still getting your bearings around this time. Fighting very few enemies with a combat system that starts out clunky is not a good combo. It takes a short time to acclimate yourself with the combat system before you begin to appreciate it. Based on this, any might be led to believe that BloodRayne is a poorly constructed title cranked out for a quick buck.

That's not the case, though. BloodRayne is another playable b-movie brimming with plenty of action and butchery, Nazi extermination and Lovecraftian monsters. It's a guilty pleasure that's as charming in its unabashed gratuitousness as it is exciting in its effective blend of hack 'n slash mayhem and third-person shooter havoc. BloodRayne is not a taut scare game or a breathtaking artsy experience. It's an over-the-top action title with horror elements that hits all of the right marks, and sometimes that's all you need.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (October 11, 2012)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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