Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Publisher 2: AQ Interactive
N Amer - 07/03/2007
A couple of years ago, I was sitting on my couch playing a game known at Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. I remember getting about halfway through and then thinking to myself, “You know what this game needs? Vampires.” Okay, maybe that didn’t actually happen, but it must’ve happened to someone over at developer Artoon as their latest title, Vampire Rain, seems to be just that.
Releasing next month, Vampire Rain takes a delightfully cheesy storyline and script involving vampires taking over the world and adds stealth action to it. The interesting duality in the concept presents two different stalkers of the shadows, with you using real-world stealth tools while taking on mystical creatures of the darkness. A preview build sent over by Microsoft showcased the game’s gameplay elements as well as gave hints at its B-movie premise.
The game’s initial cutscene opens up in a colonel’s office where his assistant is informing him that vampires will soon outnumber humans. To be sure, once this happens, it will be hell on earth as the ensuing bloodsucker insurrection will see to it that man is no longer the dominant species on the planet.
You are John Lloyd, an agent assigned to a crack government team of vampire hunters, with your mission being to thin the vampire herds and restore balance. You set out with your team of soldiers and your team leader (who looks like a cross-eyed Shaquille O’Neal) into the night to Sure, it sounds like something you’d catch on Cinemax at 3:30 in the morning, but as evidenced by sleeper hits with goofy storylines (like Earth Defense Force), a little bit of cheese can go a long way.
From the get go, the inspiration that Vampire Rain draws from stealth action games like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid is pretty obvious. The movement controls feel the same, with you being able to shimmy along ledges, lean against walls, and sneak around like you can it the aforementioned games. In the preview build, your character has light weapons that he can use, but they seem to be mainly for knocking out lights to avoid detection, since vampires are much tougher than Count Chocula would lead you to believe. You gradually gain the means of actually killing some of them, with sniper rifles and UV knives giving you an edge.
If a vampire gets a hold of you, it will kill you, no question. They move extremely fast, can withstand copious amounts of bullets, and are capable of turning you into hamburger in two hits. Therefore, keeping to the shadows and staying undetected are imperative to your continued existence. You must be constantly mindful of your surroundings, as vamps can be lurking in just about any shadow, standing around like a run-of-the-mill NPC. Luckily, the omnipresent torrential downpour throughout the game (hence Vampire “Rain”, get it?) dulls the vampires’ senses, allowing you to sneak by them easier than usual.
Graphically, the game looks a lot like a previous generation Xbox game with the HD bump, which is kind of disappointing considering how Artoon was able to make Blinx (their original Xbox launch title) look so good for the time, not to mention how good Blue Dragon (which they’re co-developing with Mistwalker) looks currently. The character models don’t really pack the detailed punch that we see currently and expect from Xbox 360 titles, and the drizzly environments look drab and uninteresting.
Vampire Rain probably won’t win any points with originality (or any beauty pageants with decidedly last-gen graphics), but it still could be a guilty pleasure for those of you out there who love killin’ vampires in the shadows. Look for it next month.