Reviewed: October 2, 2011
Released: September 7, 2011
Lara Croft brought sexy to video games back in the 90’s but when Rayne, an ultra-sexy red-headed vampire Nazi-slaying vixen arrived in 2002, all bets were off. Since then we have seen several mediocre game sequels on console and PC and a horrible series of movies, so bad that they now go straight to DVD. I had all but given up on the franchise, but Majesco is determined to keep trying and I’m always ready to give them another chance, so here we are with BloodRayne: Betrayal. |
Sadly, “betrayed” is exactly how I felt when I fired up this XBLA game and found I would not be running around in traditional 3D environments as has been the case before. Instead, I found myself in a side-scrolling platform game with stylized cel-shaded graphics. Betrayal looks more like a Flash game for your web browser or a mobile app at best, but then again, I have much better looking games on my iPad.
Dismissing the visuals I tried to invest myself in the gameplay which is very Castlevania, both in aforementioned visuals and in its rudimentary gameplay, which quickly devolves into furious button-mashing enabling you to shoot and hack and slash your way through some ultra-difficult levels. Enemies get tougher and come at you in greater numbers as you slowly make your way through the 15 stages that lead up to and take you inside a gothic castle. There are plenty of old-school platforming sections, a variety of puzzles, and some kick-ass boss fights that will test the mettle of veteran gamers.
Combat and controls are fairly simple. Rayne has her traditional weapons from past games; her wrist blades and her pistol, so you have a bit of ranged ability before you have to get up close and personal. Rayne will also need to feed on the blood of her stunned enemies to regain health and stay alive. She can also infect her foes and use them as weapons – pretty cool. Probably the hardest move to master is the one you'll use the most, the tricky reverse jump. You'll need this for simple navigation as well as platforming puzzles.
Oddly enough, the longer I played Betrayal the more I forgot it had the BloodRayne name attached to it. I slipped into the mindset that I was playing a re-skinned version of Castlevania with a new female character. The graphics started to get a bit cooler the further I got into the game with greater detail and some cool textures and flash special effects. The animation was still a bit jerky and the camera got crazy at times, and I would have preferred a more traditional gothic soundtrack than the heavy metal themes used for the background music, but that is what the volume setting is for.
Betrayal’s 15 stages will keep most gamers busy for 8-10 hours, and you’ll have plenty of reason to return, especially if you are a collector or an achievement hunter. There are collectible skulls that you can use to upgrade Rayne’s health and ammo and online leaderboards will have you competing with your friends for scores based on kills and completion time.
I was all hot to play BloodRayne: Betrayal until I actually saw it. I literally had to force myself to play this game, grumbling throughout the first 2-3 stages, but eventually the Castlevania-style gameplay and unique stylized graphics overcame my shattered expectations and I started to appreciate the game for what it is – a kick-ass, old-school platformer that will deliver hours of challenging fun regardless of its title.