Splinter Cell - but with vampires. Sounds so good, doesn't it? It's no wonder that early word of the Japanese stealther made us feel like kids at Christmas. But our review of the Japanese version in issue 52 was as disappointing and upsetting as waking up on 25 December to find that Santa's not only used your stocking as a toilet but wiped his arse on the curtains too.
So we rightly ripped Vampire Rain a big old new one when we reviewed it on import, and as the Japanese version was already in English, it's our duty to simply restate the fact: this game hates you, and wants you to have a bad time.
Rain follows the exploits of a technology-draped Fisher-a-like called Lloyd, battling vicious blood-guzzlers in a rainy LA - the idea is to identify the undead with your pointy-teeth-vision goggles before taking them on in battle, pitching your own brand of blammo against their Crackdown-esque high-jumping super-terror-powers.
The actual experience though, brings a whole new meaning to the word 'dongwater'. If the drab, grey environments, lifeless characters and appallingly-realised gore isn't turn-off enough, trying to control the low-rent protagonist puts the final nail in the coffin. Moves which are second nature when sneaking about in Splinter Cell are either absent or poorly realised here - we're talking about the fundamentals, like the ability to walk over pipes without pressing a, or the not-so-ancient art of shooting downwards when you're crouching on a roof.
RAIN RAIN GO AWAY
But even if Lloyd's abilities were up to scratch, it wouldn't help much when it came to vampire-slaying - these bastards take at least an entire clip of ammo before they disintegrate into a disappointing puddle, and yet it takes only one of their unchanging two-swipe combo attacks to murderise you dead.
Truly, two strikes and you're out. Of course, as it's primarily a stealth game this wouldn't be a major problem if it wasn't for the fact that the main missions are utterly, soul-crushingly linear. Try to nip down a non-regulation alleyway and you'll hit an invisible wall and get a weary message from your commander telling you that you're going 'off-mission'. Even if it makes sense to move down one particular street, if the game has other ideas, you'll just have to fumble through the vamp-infested route that's been chosen for you. It really is as if Vampire Rain actually wants to crush any inkling of curiosity or creativity you may fancy displaying as you progress through it.
We didn't think there was much they could do to turn this stinker round in time for its UK debut, and, sadly, we were right. Vampire Rain deserves to be staked, and its dust blown to the four winds, never to rise again.
Bad to the bone - and not even in a funny way - this is a good idea, obliterated.