Best described as ‘gun-touting vampire takes on devil-worshipping Nazis’, BloodRayne sounds more like a B-movie plot than a PC adventure. Thankfully Vivendi’s latest is a grade-A action title, with a sexy new heroine and plenty to get your teeth into.
Set between the World Wars, the game casts you as the sultry Rayne, the kind of girl who makes Lara Croft look like Laura Ingalls. Half-vampire or ‘Dhampir’, she comes with all the strengths of the fang gang but suffers few of their weaknesses, save an aversion to running water. Rayne still thirsts for blood but is also gifted with cat-like agility, perfect marksmanship and mastery of the martial arts.
Working with the Allies, through a secret group known as the Brimstone society, the idea is to stop Hitler’s hordes from exploring supernatural strategies. To help you get to grips with the controls there’s a quick bit of training, conducted by the unfortunately named Mynce, followed by a short stint in 1930′s Louisiana. From there it’s on to Argentina for a spot of investigation as you track down a list of targets while attempting to work out what the Hun are actually up to. The action is mission-based, with clear objectives set during each level, and it’s easy to pick things up as you go.
Along with her dazzling smile, a pair of wrist-mounted blades and any guns she can carry, Rayne has various vampire tricks at her disposal. She can sense the body heat of hidden enemies, suck on unsuspecting soldiers, and switch into Matrix-style ‘dilated perception’ to dodge incoming attacks. Given enough encouragement Rayne will also ‘blood rage’, opening up a horde of devastating new moves.
Having said all this it pays not to act in haste, with stealth tactics much more favourable than a frontal assault. The enemies can be crafty, especially at higher levels, and some can block and even match your attacks. Other parts of the game see you visiting the Fatherland, dicing with Atlantian demons, roasting the dead with rocket launchers and even listening to Germans trying to tell jokes. You have been warned.
Viewed in the third-person, à la Tomb Raider, the PC version looks great. The minimum requirements state at least a 64MB graphics card, though. Animation is smooth, location textures are nicely detailed and reflections and lighting are used to good effect. Add buckets of blood, bouncing breasts and flying limbs and it’s easy to see why this one comes with a ’15′ certificate. The camera can sometimes drop behind objects obscuring the view but as part of the overall package it’s easy to overlook. The audio department is equally well stocked with atmospheric music, erotic sucking sounds (ahem) and colourful language.