Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Publisher 2: AQ Interactive
N Amer - 07/03/2007
Vampire Rain Review
The premise sounds like something you might see in a Hollywood action flick. Vampires are growing in numbers at an alarming rate, this is happening right under the clueless populations nose. As is the norm, vampires are quicker, stronger and more deadly than a normal person, so a team of highly skilled mercenaries is sent in to some of the more volatile locations with instructions to eliminate prime vampires (older more powerful). Doing so will eliminate any other vampire this chieftain had made throughout its history. Of course, the focus is more on stealth than straight up run-and-gun gameplay. This is due to the vampires, even the most basic ones, being so powerful, that they will kill you with one swipe even after you have unloaded a full clip into them. Now, the title suggests something about rain, and that is true, in the rain, a vampire's senses are dulled and they cannot easily detect humans. So unless you wave a giant sparkler and scream at the top of your lungs, maybe, just maybe, you will be able to complete your mission.
That is until you actually begin playing the game.
Ok, in the game you initially start off weaponless, I say that because your basic sidearm is useless against the undead found in the game. You must use stealth tactics to avoid detection and complete your task of eliminating the level's main vampire. Now what makes this whole concept so difficult is that the design of the game is geared towards frustration. First off, the vampires have increased senses that are dulled in the rain, but that doesn't stop them from still seeing you from incredibly far distances and then running so incredibly fast to catch you that escape is impossible. Couple this fact with the ability to not open doors or hide without that same vampire stalking you down and finding you no matter what. Now, at this point, this would be fine, if the developers would have made the playing field more even by equipping your with weapons that could kill said vampire. As it is, you do not get any really good weapons (and I say that loosely) until further into the game. This makes getting anything done almost impossible.
"You put him out of his misery, too bad you still are miserable."
Now before you say "but that just sounds like a challenging game" understand this. You will be seen by vampires when they are not even on your own screen or view sensor. And they will relentlessly hunt you down unless you take what appears to be the single unknown path through what appears to be an open-ended environment. And when I say this, please understand this means running in what appears to be an open area and then hitting the invisible barrier the programmers deemed "out of bounds." In essence, the game tricks you into believing that each level is full of possibilities to get from one end to the other unnoticed. In reality, you must (through trial and error) find the single way to reach the end. This coupled with the fact that your character moves around in very (Splinter Cell) sneaky ways, crawling along building ledges, shimmy up pipes and otherwise do some cool sneaky moves, but it is all in vein with the unfriendly and skewed exploration factor. Sure you can get on the rooftop, but once you are up there any other movements draw vampires to you.
Yes, you have found a gaming low point if you are playing this title. A cool premise and innovative idea, marred by poor graphics, poorer sound, and inept gameplay. I'm sorry to sound so harsh, but I really had my hopes up for this title and it let me down, so very, very far. Let me explain.
Controlling this mess is as much fun as going to the dentist. Since the game is stealth based, apparently designing a targeting reticule was never much of a priority. The aiming in the game is painfully slow, no matter the situation. During those points of the game when you actually have weapons that will kill a vampire and you are engaged in combat, the whole control scheme feels like you are moving in water. The triggers fire the weapons, but don't even think about using cover while doing so. Apparently a game based on a tactical stealth team does not include shooting from cover easily, that would make too much sense. Instead our hero "Lloyd" is about as sneaky as my six-year old trying to make a shake in the blender at 2:00am. Jumping from cover to cover is sluggish an ineffectual. Lloyd may be a trained agent, but apparently Stevie Wonder was his trainer.
"You're dead in, like, three seconds."
Factor in some very bland and unintentionally funny dialogue and you got yourself a last-generation game, but only if the graphics stink. Oh wait, they do look like a last generation system, provided you are comparing it to the first series of games that came out on the PS2. The graphics are so muddy and poorly developed, that you would be hard pressed to find as bad a graphics in another 360 game - seriously. The rain effects are barely passable by today's standard and the sooty, disconnected look of the game really makes you wonder what the folks at AQ Interactive were thinking. This game would be a slap in the face if it was developed for the Xbox, much less the 360. Vampires look moderately gross when they change to their aggressive form, but all is for naught when talking about the A.I. These pathetic creatures are so stupid that if you get the opportunity to pick one off from a distance (with the sniper rifle later in the game) its chit-chat partner will continue to speak to the headless vampire in front of him. Furthermore, some vampires will run you down, and then circle you several times as if locked in a programmed pattern. You, of course, can't do a darn thing, move one way or the other and he will be all over you instantly, this is poor development at its worst.
Like I said above, you eventually do get some weapons that do damage to the vampires, but it is too little too late. The UV knives that seem to work the most effectively, disappear after each use, and the sniper rifle gets old fairly fast. But to make matters even worse (as if it were possible) the rules the game has set up early in the game are thrown out the window when you fight the bosses. And mind you, the first boss shows up way late in the game and for some reason is not as powerful as the average vampire roaming the streets. In fact all of the alpha vampires are weaker than the mindless morons outside talking to their headless friends. And then for some odd reason, the vampires start carrying weaponry of their own, and then the uneven A.I. kicks back into high gear and vampires pick you off with guns from thousands of feet away (an embellishment, but its really far).
"You should be playing Prey right now."
So let's recap: the vampires are impossible to shake once you are detected, there appears to be only one way through the level despite the appearance of an open-ended, free-roaming area. The vampires' A.I. is horribly uneven, the graphics look six-years old and the audio was apparently recorded by a group of over-actors who like needed to record everything in a single take.
Now you can also play this game on Xbox Live and play the standard set of multiplayer games playing as either humans or vampires. This is where the most fun will be had, and even that isn't much fun with such disjointed graphics. There is deathmatch, capture the flag, but all of it is done so poorly, with the slow controls, and grainy graphics, you will want to stop and play the same style online games on any other number of first-person shooters available on Xbox Live. Only difference is, you will enjoy playing it on another game.
|Review Scoring Details for Vampire Rain|
Bad, just plain bad. The control of our man Lloyd is sloppy and slow, the stealth movements aren't really that stealthy, only by trial and error can you even complete a level. Vampires are super tough early and then just as stupid the next moment.
I can't tell you how bad the game looks. And I certainly don't want you going out and buying or renting just so you can fully understand. The levels are uninspired and even seem to repeat throughout the game. Movements are unrealistic and certainly don't elicit any confidence in the lead character. Grainy, dark graphics don't do any sort of justice a game with the word vampire in the title.
Grade Q movie voicework (Z would mean some sort of fun) with some words being stressed out of context. The voice actors apparently were drinking tequila and hamming it up in one of the developers bathrooms, since that's where it sounds like it was recorded.
Unnecessarily hard. The baddies have all sorts of advantages and you have the fighting capabilities of a dead cat.
What should have Metal Gear Solid meets Underworld turns sour right quick. The idea is solid, the end result is soft.
If this was the only game you owned, you would play online. Only because human opponents aren't as stupid as the vampires in the single-player game.
360 games sell at $60, value games sell at $30-40, but this one is not worth the price of admission – at any price.
Highly skilled black ops unit squares off against the undead in an action game that may just make you so irate you will throw your controller in disgust
Reviewer: Mike David
Review Date: 07/20/2007