Platform: Xbox, PlayStation2, GameCube, PC
Developer: Terminal Reality
Review Date: 1/13/03
Rayne is a half-vampire hitwoman in the employ of a top secret organization known as the Brimstone Society. She also has a score to settle with her bastard vampire father, which sets the wheels in motion for a possible sequel. It's 1933 and Nazi Germany is trying to get their hands on numerous religious artifacts to further their cause of world domination. Agent Rayne gets assigned to infiltrate, interrogate, and execute those involved in this task. Her mission takes her from the swamps of Louisiana, to Argentina, and finally to Germany itself.
An above average action game, it succeeds mostly on the strength of its main character and her considerable combat skills. Agent Rayne is very cool and very sexy. She wields two massive blades for melee combat and can independently target two enemies with the guns she can carry. She can also kill her victims by straddling them and feeding on their blood, which is highly satisfying and quite erotic. It also replenishes Rayne's health, so players are encouraged to feed. Her leather and lingerie outfit is a bit racy and shockingly out of place for the 1930's, but I'm certainly not going to complain. Interestingly enough, Rayne's in-game model is much more attractive, expressive, and likable than the one used for the prerendered cut scenes, which is definitely a switch from the norm. But probably the most impressive aspect of the game is the voice acting, which is superb. It's so rare to hear good voice acting in video games, and it bumps up the enjoyment factor of "BloodRayne" considerably. Sadly, the actors aren't credited anywhere, but the actress who voices Rayne (Laura Bailey) is phenomenal. She hits everything right on the mark. She's smart, sexy, and emphatic without sounding forced, flat, or fake. Very nice work. The supporting cast is also very good, and the frantic screams of the Nazi soldiers validate Rayne's incredible presence even more.
The game looks nice and the level design is attractive and functional - especially when you finally get to Germany. The biggest frustration is the lack of a map to help you get around, and the only way to tell where you are is to survey the bloody corpses that you've left behind. (thank goodness for persistent bodies!) It's very easy to get lost and confused in the Argentina complex, which is made worse by the fact that alarms seem to spontaneously fix themselves after you've destroyed them. The controls are also frustrating, and while the game offers a number of different configurations, none of them feel quite right, which can make the game difficult to play and enjoy. But thankfully, the developers realized that not everyone has the patience, endurance, and dexterity of a twelve year old, and have included platform independent cheat codes in plain sight on the options screen for the rest of us. This makes even more sense for the game's target demographic, since it has a "mature" rating due to blood, gore, graphic violence, strong language, and energetic breast jiggling. Being able to cheat through a game like this actually makes it fun instead of frustrating, and you can pay more attention to honing your skills, following the story, and enjoying the scenery. I applaud Terminal Reality for this inventive feature, and without it I wouldn't have been nearly as motivated to finish the game. (perhaps this reflects an underlying flaw in the overall design and gameplay?)
As far as I can tell, the only reason the game is set in the 1930's is to once again make Nazi Germany the focal point of the game's unabashed violence. One rule of video game design is that you can always mercilessly slaughter space aliens, zombies, and Nazi's without offending any political or special interest groups. It's all rather moot since the presentation of the material, and Rayne in particular, is very contemporary. However, in a cute little nod to Indiana Jones, you find that the Germans have already obtained the fabled Ark Of The Covenant in their quest for artifacts. While the game starts out slow, and then becomes frustrating, it really starts to pay off in the final quarter. It's consistently fun to dismember bad guys in slow motion and unleash the fury of Rayne's blood rage on hapless Nazi officers. Coming from the industry, special mention must also be made that not only did this game ship simultaneously on four platforms, but that it also shipped early! That's nearly unheard of in the industry, and either the developers or the marketing staff did something right for a change. Nice work all around.