Usually, I keep myself open to playing anything. Besides sports games, I will venture into the most doubtful of games to try and find that really crappy looking game that is actually pretty good. When BloodRayne: Betrayal came my way, my impressions were actually opposite than they usually are for smaller titles. The BloodRayne series has been through hard times, releasing in 2002 for 2nd generation systems and enjoying a mixed amount of success. The original game took place in the 1930’s, and had a female vampire fighting Nazi’s more or less. The sequel still had Nazi’s, but was set around the time of 2000. Originally, the game was a 3rd person game that, honestly, looked pretty bad even for it’s time. When I saw that this game took a more traditional approach, I had high hopes.
I bet you know what I am going to say here. That’s right: “Boy was I wrong”. Do not get me wrong, the game looks fantastic. Betrayal went old school with the design; in a little bit of a Castlevania: Symphony of the Night meets anime. For an arcade game, it looked like you wanted to play it. Once you get past the visuals though, immediately you will notice the crappy controls. Rayne controls as if your main character was a clumsy toddler. She runs everywhere, which would not be a problem if changing direction did not involve a lengthy skidding animation. This skidding actually sort of has a function, but even that does not work well. Skidding and then pressing one of the face buttons will allow Rayne to do a back-flip, which in turn allows her to jump higher. A lot of the time this will not work on the first try, or the game makes you do it on a platform that disappears. It would not be a problem if she didn’t take so damn long to skid.
Combat is another place where BloodRayne: Betrayal crashes and burns. This is in large part due to the shoddy controls, but is also due in large part to the enemies. This game tries to make up for the fact that it is incredibly linear, by piling in a ton of enemies all at the same time to compensate for it. I am not complaining about the difficulty of the normal enemies in game, but since Rayne moves so slow it is hard to try and keep up with them. All that aside, it is also the enemies themselves. For instance, you have your regular enemies and then you have annoying enemies. Mosquitoes are hated enough in real life, why do we need to fight them in this game? Well maybe they are not exactly the same thing, but they are just as annoying. They dive at you and will always knock you over if they hit you.
You can grab almost any enemy to suck its blood and regain health, but just trying to catch one of these things is a process which turns out to not be worth it. Another irritating enemy are the electric frogs. They jump at you, and since Rayne has a chronic case of hypoglycemia (maybe) she falls no matter what hits you every time. The vast amount of enemies on screen also caused issues with the frame rate which slowed down some battles to a ridiculous extent, and had the game completely freeze a couple of times.
The many many enemies flying at you are aggravating, but they are easy to deal with for the most part. The trouble is when you get to boss battles, in which a ridiculous difficulty spike just pops up and bitch-slaps you in the face. It would be one thing if all of the bosses were equally as hard, but in Betrayal they all get drastically harder at about the 3rd one in. To explain, imagine if you would, a situation I am about to describe. You are on a giant crab robot that is climbing down a endless pit of doom. If you fall off, you get hit with damage so it’s only feasible to stay on its head. Every ten seconds or so, there are twin geysers erupting from where you are supposed to be standing. Remember those mosquitoes I was telling you about? They are there too, along with random other enemies. The arms of the robot turn into saw blades as well, just in case you happened to survive the rest of the stuff. That is not even the hardest boss in the game, but by that point it already feels like overkill.
Rayne has some abilities to help you through the majority of the enemies so it’s not all a one sided fight. You can dash, which does not allow you to avoid attacks but does allow you to go over them. Dash is usually used to get to a faraway ledge that you can’t jump to. Rayne can also suck the life out of her enemies, which gains you health. The only enemies you really can’t do this with are the bigger enemies and bosses, as well as the electric frogs. If you do not suck them completely dry, they will turn green and pressing another buttons will make them explode. The rest of her attacks are simple button mashing “fun”. She also does that back-flip thing which is only slightly useful outside of jumping higher. Rayne has a gun with very limited ammo, which is useful when trying to defeat other enemies with guns. Both ammo and health can be upgraded by collecting hidden red skulls.
One point in the game that is worth mentioning as being pretty different is the levels in which you control a bird through a spike filled area that a person could not get into. One button needs to be almost constantly pressed to keep the bird up, as it is the flapping motion. Press this button too much, and you will fly into the spikes on the ceiling. The bird can also attack by way of sonic cry of sorts that kind of sounds like a Pterodactyl. You can also dash, which allows you to fly past laser beams that do not seem to allow you to pass through flying at normal speed. This portion of the game was pretty cool to play, as well as challenging because of the bird’s limited functionality and inability to regain health via vampirism.
The bottom line is that BloodRayne: Betrayal could have been a good game, but it is not one. The game looks fantastic, and at first you will find the issues with the game such as controls do not bother you. Give it a very short time and these issues will eat away at your gaming experience until you throw your controller or headset at your monitor and almost break them (true story). If you are really intent on playing Betrayal, I would absolutely recommend checking out the demo before committing yourself to a purchase.
There used to be an embeded media player here, but it doesn't work anymore. We blame the Tumbeasts.
[Video via YouTube]