by Kiran Sury
reviewed on PS3
My Eyes Are Up Here
Most gamers are probably only familiar with the BloodRayne series in passing, if at all. Perhaps they played and enjoyed the decent if uninspired action games on the older consoles, or maybe they regret watching the terrible Uwe Boll movie adaptation. Either way, itís almost certain all of them were drawn to it for the same reason: the tits. Rayne is a hot female vampire who isnít afraid to bare her ample assets, and who doesnít love the occasional redhead? With BloodRayne: Betrayal, however, developer WayForward has moved past the sex appeal and delivered a hardcore 2D action game that stands on its own two boobs. I mean feet. Feet!
Rayne has always been hot, and she survives the translation to 2D intact. In her current incarnation, her curvy body, youthful face and hair ribbons make her a loliconís wet dream. Thankfully, WayForward has done the same for the rest of the graphics as well, Betrayal looks absolutely gorgeous in HD. The enemies have the same meticulous hand drawn look, enemy design is varied and creepy, and colors are crisp. I just hope you like the color red because youíll be seeing a lot of it. Rayne rains blood like its confetti at a ticker tape parade (sometimes making it a bit hard to see), but it always looks good.
The soundtrack, on the other hand, is more of a mixed bag. Composed by Jake Kaufman, it features generic rock that sort of fits the violence, but quickly becomes ignored. However, two particular pieces stand out. The first is the music that plays on the menu screen, the second sets in when you hover over the BloodRayne icon on the XMB. They are hauntingly beautiful classical piano pieces that were so simple yet elegant that I put my controller down and just listened for a while. These pieces were apparently courtesy of Mr. Kaufman as well, and if so, he is to be applauded. I only wish he had chosen to make the entire soundtrack orchestral Ė the dips and swells in the music would have matched the vampire theme perfectly and accentuated the combat in a way an electric guitar simply canít. Then again, if you hate classical music, ignore this entire paragraph, you barbarian.
Rayne Likes it Hard
Game critics like comparing BloodRayne to the Castlevania series, and in many ways they are right. I think it is more similar to a third game, though, namely Shank. Betrayal forgoes the exploration and RPG elements of Castlevania in favor of mostly pure combat. Controls are simple, one button attacks though the game is far from a button masher. Timing and directional attacks give rise to combos that are absolutely necessary to take out the crowds of enemies you face. Rayneís vampiric nature comes in handy too, granting her the handy ability to grab humanoid enemies and suck their blood for health. Let go early and they become infected, turning into walking bombs you can detonate at the press of another button. She also has a gun that acts as a screen-clearing device. It has limited ammunition, but packs one hell of a punch. Rayne has no block, but her dodge move makes her impervious to any attack Ė just make sure you time it right. On the other hand, itís a bit annoying that enemies can still hurt you when youíre knocked down.
Dodging is crucial to the game in more ways than one. Piles and piles of enemies ensure that only those who master the combat system will be able to make it past the first few levels. The game starts off rather easy, but quickly becomes very challenging. Unfortunately, it also becomes unforgivingly difficult when platforming comes into play. Rayneís jump is high, but usually just not high enough to reach a platform above her. Instead, you have to run past the platform and back flip on to it. The move looks cool, but adds an unnecessary complication to moving around. Rayne also often has to reach platforms that are too far away. You have to jump and then dodge towards it to make it. That by itself isnít so bad, but combine that with smaller and smaller platforms, moving platforms, and a time limit and you have an exercise in rage and futility. Itís a pity that the platforming sections can be so aggravating Ė tough combat is doable, but missing a jump for the umpteenth time is just too much. BloodRayne would have benefited greatly from more forgiving platforming and easier difficulty settings for the casual gamer looking for a good time with a hot broad, not anger management classes.
The extreme difficulty encountered later in the game makes it hard for me to recommend BloodRayne: Betrayal unequivocally. The first few levels are a blast to play, and even the hard combat becomes enjoyable when you master the moves. The 15 levels offer stat-upgrading skulls for you to search for and collect, and leaderboard lovers will enjoy replaying the levels for higher rankings. Yet the platforming can be a serious turnoff, and moreís the pity, because good platforming would have brought the game close to perfection. Betrayal gets a cautious recommendation Ė thereís a lot to love here, but be warned of the difficulty. BloodRayne will drain you dry.
Great graphics, music, challenging combat.
The game is just too damn hard in some places, and the platforming sucks. An easier difficulty is definitely needed. Orchestral score would have been preferred.