Mmm! Lovely sexy vampire lady who doesn't wear many clothes! Initial hopes were high for the new BloodRayne, but then, like with so many attractive ladies, it all goes a bit wrong when she opens her mouth. "I never drink... wine," she wisecracks lamely, in dialogue that tries hard to be sexy but is about as arousing as a naked Jimmy Saville covered in cold sores.
This Parental Guidance level of inoffensive sexy chat continues throughout the game, which combined with the gameplay, makes us want to go to sleep. Rayne's initial in-game action sees her running through a mansion. A grey, marble mansion full of identical grey, marble rooms for you to run through, again and again. Not a brilliant start.
Through this bland mission you learn about Rayne's skills. Swords and kicks are her staples, but she has one quite unique feature that sets this game apart and places it very slightly above most run-of-the-mill action games - she has a thirst for blood. What this means to you, the player, is that instead of simply hacking all the enemies to death, it's best to keep some alive to suck the blood out of. Sucking blood boosts your energy bar, see, and chopping them into bits fills your Rage gauge.
Rage gives Rayne access to special moves, and these again are actually a bit interesting! Obviously there's a 'bullet time' one, which is useless at the start as it just slows down everything, so it's like playing the game in really boring slow motion. It can be levelled up and enhanced, though, with her other Rage skills - stronger attack and defence, remote viewing and mind control - also becoming more useful as you cut enemies up into chunks and spray their blood about the place.
Not that these enhanced skills make the game easier. The 'Aura Vision' means that instead of there being an obvious door for you to go through, you now get a hidden door that you have to search for with your magical vision, then go through. When powered up you can send off a ghost version of yourself to feed or mind control enemies, but these are all diversions. The sad fact is that BloodRayne 2's core fighting element isn't really that good.
You can spend a minute or so engaging in a rather bland exchange of blocking and slashing, or you can press Y to grab them and suck their blood out. It's quicker that way and you get a health boost. When fighting with a sword rather than your lips and teeth it's hard to know when you've made contact with enemies - so you never know how much damage you've done, or whether the game thinks it's your turn to block and its turn to attack. It's a bit of a letdown really.
The bloodsucking is another way the developer has tried to make the game sexy - like
when Rayne wraps her legs around a female enemy and starts sucking away at her neck. As a fighting game it's not particularly impressive, but as soft porn it's rather good! Not that she ever gets naked, mind. And sadly, for such a high-profile lead character, Rayne isn't that impressive in action. She's a bit rigid, and quite cumbersome when navigating the leap-around platform bits. Yes, she can grind and shoot at the same time, but making her jump, stop, rotate, stop, jump again, stop, swing and jump just to get from one swinging beam to the next is really quite a chore.
There are also quite a few familiar themes. Even sexy vampire babes have to play missions where you climb around scaffolding to find a switch to cut the power to a locked door. Boring. It's a boatload of clichés, too - all the females wear suspenders, all the bad guys are goatee-bearded vampire characters and the plot's cheesy and naff. It's all a bit old-fashioned underneath the sexy bits.