In Defense of…. Vampire Rain – Review
Heh I know I know, I mention this game and immediately people scream “WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU EVER GET THAT?!” Well, really there’s two reasons…
Last I read, the World of Darkness MMO is still slated to be released in 2012, and I couldn’t be more excited! I have been dying for some vampire-related gaming that’s NOT Castlevania. This anticipation, in part, caused me to grab Vampire Rain. a Vampire game in a modern-day setting that appeared somewhat similar to the style of WoD.
That was reason number one.
And yes, before purchasing it, I read the reviews… it has a score of 38 on Metacritic, with reviewers bashing the title for being “one of the worst videogames on the Xbox 360.” They criticized the game for its unforgiving gameplay – the enemies are too hard to kill, and the guns are ineffective. They claimed the game was “broken” because being spotted by a vampire pretty much means you’re as good as dead.
There’s reason number two!
Ironically, it was these negative reviews that served as the ultimate driving force for me getting this game. I believe that vampires SHOULD be nearly impossible to kill, especially since well, they’re vampires – being hard to kill is part of what they do!
So, going into it, I knew this game had vampires, challenging game play, and emphasized stealth and survival over mindless action. Never being afraid of what others deemed to be “bad games” before, I happily picked it up, waited until nightfall, and popped the game into my 360, thereupon I saw this:
So far so good…
The game opens in a dreary urban setting, and your team is tasked with gathering intel on the growing undead menace known as “Nightwalkers” (Vampires). Since your team was originally tasked with merely gathering information, and not combat, you are not equipped to take on the vampires wandering the streets. Therefore you and your team must use the cover of darkness to sneak by your enemies as you try to figure out what happened to the Advance Team (the guys with all the guns and were tasked to destroy the Prime Walkers/Head Vampires.)
Most of your missions are fairly straight forward – just get to a checkpoint without dying. Again, since you’re not equipped to take on the vampires, you are to use stealth. If you are seen, you might as well put down the controller, for you are as good as dead.
Granted you are equipped at the beginning of a game with a special kind of handgun that’s been modified for “Anti-Nightwalker” combat. The description of the gun in your inventory even sounds like it can do some damage:
So if it’s your first time playing this game, and you’re going into this blind, you probably will do this to the first Nightwalker you see:
And at the most you’ll probably take him down by about 10% of his life, if you’re really really accurate and land every bullet you got in your magazine. Meanwhile he’s running full sprint at you, drains your health-bar in two quick unavoidable swipes, then this happens:
Right after that, you think “Hm, this game is too hard! I better bring the difficulty down to ‘Easy” for now, just until I get better” only to find…
At this point, most other players would probably return the game, whine about how they couldn’t even kill a single enemy, and play something with human targets instead like Call of Duty. However, those with the patience to hunt the undead will press on and learn a few things along the way.
FURRY SENPAI MIKEKUN’S TIPS FOR NOT DYING A LOT AGAINST VAMPIRES
Rule Number One: If you’re spotted, you deserve to die.
Accept it, your life-bar is mostly just there as a joke, just like in real-life.
Your handgun is more like a tool. I know the game makes you think it’s a weapon, but you will use it more for shooting locks on doors, and disturbing perched birds to draw the Nightwalker’s attention away from you.
You will get better weapons. If you don’t have a shotgun or sniper rifle, don’t try taking on Nighwalkers. The Assault Rifle and Submachine Gun are nearly worthless against Nightwalkers, but will work on the more “humanoid” targets you encounter late in the game.
Think of this game like a puzzle game. You got to get from point A to point B, that’s it. Look for rooftops/ladders/drain pipes to climb. When in doubt, look for a ledge.
If you are seen and being chased, don’t bother trying to fight back. If you’re close to the objective, run for it, and hope you’re saved by a cut-scene.
Only use UV knives on targets that are standing in your way, and there’s no way around them. They’re hard to come by.
For anyone that”s really played this game, the above tips are common knowledge, as they are all essential to not only surviving, but also having FUN with this game. Yes, vampires are fast and strong, and you will die a lot. But the game’s levels have many checkpoints throughout them, so continuing often means not having to start at the beginning.
However, I will admit that this game has a number of flaws. The story has a few twists and turns, some make sense, and others just feel like they’re there just for the sake of having another twist. Fortunately, the one cliche’ twist that did NOT make it into this game (thank God) was that of the main character being a vampire/part vampire the whole time.
Other reviewers commented on the stupidity of the enemy A.I and really, I do not see it. If anything, it’s your team-mates’ A.I that can be troublesome. It’s rare you’re ever doing a mission with them, but in one of the later levels I had to continue 34 times (!!!) all because one of my team-mates kept running out into enemy fire. What made it even worse was after I FINALLY beat the level by pretty much acting as her meat-shield, it’s all for nothing since she betrays the team right after. I know i know, spoilers, but it really doesn’t play a major role in the game actually and just comes out of left field, especially since she’s incapacitated as soon as she’s discovered being a bitch.
And I will admit that the game-play is surprisingly linear. Like I said, the point of most missions is to get from point A to point B, and being in an open city you’d think there’d be multiple routes one could take. Sadly, that’s not the case, as an invisible barrier stops the player from wandering too far outside of the area. Really, it doesn’t bother me being forced to one or two solutions per area, but what did bother me were the one or two instances were I’d be running from a Nightwalker, think I’m heading to a checkpoint, smack into an invisible wall and die shortly after.
That’s honestly all that I can say about the bad.
There are a lot of things that critics neglected to mention about this game, such as the music. Admittedly, there isn’t much of it, but when it’s there, it’s surprisingly good and really helps set the mood. I know this will probably upset a lot of people, but sometimes the music would actually remind me of Cowboy Bebop’s score in its reliance on jazzy horns to give it the right kind of atmospheric bluesy-tone to the events being played out in the rainy city.
There are twenty-four missions in the main story mode, plus about twenty extra missions to play through, which can be unlocked through meeting various challenges during the game. While most of the game is stealth, there are a few missions here and there that provide the player a much-needed catharsis in the form of shooting the hell out of the same vampires you’ve spent so much time hiding from. These levels often follow events in the story where your team finds an abandoned cache of weapons from the Advance Team. These kinds of stages are nicely paced during the game, and do not overwhelm the experience, nor ever make the vampires any less threatening.
Also there are boss fights where you take on a Prime Walker (think Head Vampire.) Just like their minions, they do not die easily, however they attack in patterns that, with the right timing, can be anticipated and used against them.
Admittedly, this is hardly a masterpiece, but it’s not nearly as awful as many made it out to be. One must admit that it is quite gratifying to see vampires portrayed as *gasp* monsters! Indeed, these aren’t the kinds of things one wants to date, nor have around kids!
Ok ok, MOST of the vampires of Vampire Rain are presented as ruthless blood-thirsty monsters.
This is the kind of vampire game we need, at least until the WoD mmo is out. Castlevania is all well and good, but it’s a completely different style than this. The setting is absolutely perfect, and the story, for all of its contrivances and twists, succeeds in carrying the right tone of hopelessness and isolation. The game-play is flawed and can be frustrating, but hardly any of the deaths ever feel “cheap.” Again, if you’re seen by a vampire, what do you think’s going to happen? He’ll give you a present? Invite you to go to the moon with him? Ok well if he’s Malkavian I guess…
Er anyway, if you have the patience for it and don’t mind a challenge, Vampire Rain will not disappoint. It’s by no means a great game, but for what it is, it does work as a supernatural survival-horror. At the time of its release, I would not recommend getting it for 60 bucks, but it can be had for hardly anything now. If it sounds appealing, try it out. Just be warned that this vampire’s fangs are very very sharp.
– Furry Senpai Mikekun