|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: WayForward Technologies|
|Pub: Majesco Entertainment|
|Release: September 6, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Violence, Blood and Gore, Suggestive Themes, Mild Language|
by Matt Walker
Calling BloodRayne a half-hearted video game that only had the lead female character's sex appeal going for it would be like calling Bayonetta Game of the Year material. It's just not true. This is not to say Bayonetta is a horrible game by any means, nor is it to say that the original BloodRayne titles didn't have their faults. But the BloodRayne series simply had a lot more going for it than a lot of people like to give it credit for.
It's a downright shame that the BloodRayne franchise, with its badass female vampire protagonist, has been away this long, leaving us with only Uwe Boll's horrendous feature films as representatives of Rayne's character. In fact, I would have been pleased if we simply saw some more cookie-cutter action adventure installments. BloodRayne: Betrayal, however, is exactly what the franchise needed—a nice makeover with stylized Castlevania side-scrolling action and lots of blood.
Rayne is still a hot vampire chick hell-bent on killing all the other vampires; that much hasn't changed. Only in Betrayal, all this vampire-killing revolves around a castle that players will need to gain access to before facing numerous gory attacks and ultimately meeting the villain that waits at the end of the game.
The story is definitely better than the BloodRayne feature films, but it relies fairly heavily on the player's knowledge of Rayne right from the beginning. Yet if you want to just ignore the story entirely, you'll just need to accept that Rayne is a very angry vampire that wants to kill the other vampires and be on your way. Then again, my assumptions about what new players need to know about Rayne could merely be a reaction to Hollywood's desperate attempts to defang and literally glitterize vampires.
But enough about the story. BloodRayne: Betrayal is only minutely about the "Vampire Ball." It's much more about the action—the sweet, bloody action. It's rich with stylized violence, from the fountains of blood spewing from decapitated vampires to the bloodsucking by which Rayne replenishes her health. My favorite examples of this stylized aesthetic are during the scenes in which there are only silhouettes on screen. It's a semi-nod to old school Kung Fu films where the fatal blows were handed out in the shadows. Here it is just another example of the level Way Forward went to deliver a unique yet familiar experience so new and old fans would be able to find a common medium.
In all honesty, though, there's not much else to say other than that this game brings to mind the 2D Castlevania titles. In fact, this becomes the only major complaint I have with BloodRayne: Betrayal—it's a little too much like Castlevania. And this means situations will arise where no matter what you think you are doing, or what buttons you thing you are pushing, they simply don't seem to respond in a way that makes sense right away. I'm not saying the controls are wonky or ill-conceived; they're just a little too finicky and too reliant on the precision and rote memorization of the player. For example, you will often find yourself thinking you pushed the sequence to get Rayne to perform a backflip jump, but she just sort of skips instead. You will eventually be performing these actions with ease, but the learning curve is a bit higher than it should be in a simple side-scroller.