Vampire's Rain review
For the more patient human beings
Vampire Rain... What can I say? Some may regard it as an underrated and under appreciated masterpiece, but for what reason? It's a good stealth game, but unfortunately, that's all that it's good for; stealth. Other aspects of gameplay are shoved to the sidelines in favor of stealth, which borders on ridiculous. I agree that this game gets too much hate, and I don't really appreciate it myself, but at the same time, I can see how it is. Humans, by nature, are impatient, so a game like Vampire Rain wouldn't really cater to the masses. Like the title suggests, only the most patient minds prevail.
Now, I love vampires. From Dracula, to Nosferatu, to Blackula, to Count Chocula, and even to the Count off Seasame Street, vampires have been one of my childhood obsessions that sticks to this day (with that said, I absolutely loathe Twilight). To think that there is a Splinter Cell-esque game with vampires in it just made me feel excited, but the result was one where I was left throwing popcorn at the birds surrounding the theater; satisfied, but not overly impressed.
The plot of Vampire Rain is that civilians are mysteriously disappearing because vampires (called Nightwalkers in this game) are abducting them. The American Information Bureau releases a black ops special forces unit to the streets of Los Angeles, California. It starts out like your typical survival horror storyline, but after a bit, it turns out that the Nightwalkers are looking for their genesis while biting humans, while the American Information Bureau try to create a war between humans and Nightwalkers. Since it takes the game a while to reveal the interesting portion of the story, most players won't even experience the full storyline; instead, opting to leave in disgust.
A game can look nice, but if it's nothing that pushes the technology or really stands out in a crowd of other games, then the graphics aren't going to get a high mark. Such is the case with Vampire Rain. Technically, the only things that look amazing is the rain, and everything during the FMV scenes. Ingame graphics are okay, but kind of dull. True, it's always raining, and nothing is colorful during it, but this exaggerates it a bit too much. Textures are also a little lacking, looking PS2-ish at times. At this point in time, seventh generation games should be able to dazzle you with awesome graphics for the system, not for a past system. This sucks, too, because the models look nice from an aesthetic standpoint (although I question why the vampires look more zombies), and the animations flow seamlessly.
OH GOOD LORD WHAT THE HELL KIND OF VOICE ACTING IS THIS!? If you thought that cheesy 80's/90's cartoons and Sonic games had some overactive and therefore bad voice acting, you haven't heard Vampire Rain's. This gets to the point where you'll probably piss yourself laughing, but at the same time, you feel sorry for the actors and their lack of voice talent. There's campy, and then there's just plain terrible. The soundtrack is also of no real significance, since it doesn't really get you into sneaking or shooting. It's just... there. It's a weird sort of soundtrack that tries so hard to evoke emotions, but ultimately end up boring you half to sleep. The best song is the one that plays during the sneaky parts of the levels. I believe it's dead silence. Yeah, I love that. Overall, lackluster sound department.
As I've said throughout the course of the review, this is a stealth game. Stealth implies that you roam the levels without being seen by the enemy. In this case, vampires... or zombies... I'm not quite sure anymore. If you are seen, you have three choices - run, shoot, or cower in the fetal position until you are dead. Depending on your arsenal and space... choose wisely.
Unlike most stealth games where you can still actually stay alive even when spotted, the vampiric zombies will destroy you the instant you are seen and caughth. Basically speaking, in order to get through levels to get to Point B and complete your objective, you have to consider everything around you. See that ladder? Go for it, and see if, at the top, there are no vampires in sight. See the zip line? Zip down it. Just don't step in the vampires' field of view, which is on your radar.
Your radar is the most important tool you can have. Otherwise, all of those guns are just decoration, for a vampire or a gang of them can just jump you, and you'd have no time to react, despite warning signals (that being eyes that will focus as you get deeper in shit). Therefore, your radar is essential. Vampires and their field of view are marked out, though for the sake of realism, you have to be behind something and/or well out of that area, or they may annihilate you, but suffice to say, at least the game had the courtesy to include a radar. Imagine if it didn't... even the most patient minds will want this game smashed.
Eventually, you get a gun with UV capabilities... vampires die from the sun, after all, and the sun pulses with UV rays all the time. They won't be sparkling when you open fire on them, though the only problem is that you won't know if they'll die in a couple of shots, or a good 10 shots. Indeed, this can get bothersome when you accidently alert a horde of vampires, and like I said, they will murder you if they get you. Of course, you manage to get an arsenel of a shotgun, sniper rifle and a UV knife. The shotgun is good if you have heaps of bullets to spare, but the knife is good for stealthy kills, granted you don't get spotted by surrounding vampires or even the one you're going for... at least, not without a sniper or assault rifle (these things are deadly powerful, killing vampires in one hit).
So technically speaking, the game isn't bad.. in fact, it sounds like the game that all Splinter Cell fans should get a hold of. It makes you wonder why it gets bashed so much... actually, the reason should be right in front of you - the game isn't the funnest one in the block. Why is that? I'll tell you - difficulty, and fairly uninteresting after time.
Stealth may be handled wonderfully, but your instincts may need a lot of work. Since vampires kill you in one or two swipes, you should try to stay in the shadows... too bad that, at times throughout each mission, vampires are placed in places you really need to go through, and they'll usually spot you as you climb over that ledge from the ladder, or land from a zip line ride, and then it's game over. To balance this out, there are multiple checkpoints throughout the levels, so at least you don't have to start this again. Much like the radar, had the checkpoints not been here, I would've destroyed this game out of anger and frustration after the 60th time I saw the game over screen. I don't suck; it's just easy to screw up when there are places where vampires can get you easily. The game is far from impossible, but it'll offer a challenge.
Amongst that, it's just not all that interesting. The feeling of suspense wears off after a while since every mission either deals with shooting or sneaking, or an erratic combination of both, switching out of the blue in some cases. The switching is a little annoying, but it forces you to react to the situation. But really, that's all that will keep you going throughout the game. The stealth gameplay ends up rather boring after some time, as does the shooting gameplay. It's not like Metal Gear Solid and Call Of Duty where it keeps you involved because the difficulty and stuff increases as you go - rather, it keeps on a rigid line, never really feeling harder or any more interesting. Eventually, it just bores you. True, every game, at their core, is repetitive, but stealth games are based more on mood than, say, a first person shooter, and repetition at the level where it begins to take its toll on you within the first hour and a half of play just kills the mood.
Story: It feels like a pretty good government conspiracy sort of plot including vampires, which I found enjoyable. Makes me wish there were flashes dedicated to the plot. 5/5
Graphics: Think about a PS2 game, then think about another 360 game. Then think about a game that looks like a mishmash of them. Basically, this is the thin line between sixth generation and seventh generation graphics. Not bad, but nothing impressive either. 3/5
Sound: Voice acting is overly campy, as if they hired 60's TV stars to do the voice acting. Sucks, too. Soundtrack is kind of weird, and nothing I care too much for. 2/5
Gameplay: Forces you to think outside the box when it comes to finding ways to proceed through levels without being seen. Impressive stealth mechanics, but gunplay, when you have a team with you, is about the same as every other shooter, and is only fun for a small period of time. Actually, the entire game is, but I guess that's the point of being patient. Regardless, difficulty borders on tedious half the time, and kills the mood when you die over a thousand times. 6/10
I can't say that Vampire Rain comes as recommended, unless you're a huge stealth nut. Nothing seems to feel quite right when you play through the game, except when you're totally immersed into the stealth gameplay, though not for very long, since it manages to get old after some time, making one impatient. Since many people aren't that patient - especially when bored - and just want to cause chaos and shoot everything in the head, Vampire Rain is not the sort of title everybody should rush out and buy, unless they are willing to take some ritalin on the side. I'm willing to bet this will be used in gaming 101 classes to give students an example of a game that has good gameplay when examining it from a technical standpoint, but isn't perfect from a player standpoint, and could've benefitted from some interesting new ideas and maybe a little more excitement in the gunfights. It's not to be bashed, but not to be heavily praised, either.