My other minor complaint is the way they use Xander, who shouldn’t be out there taking on groups of vampires all by himself. It would have been nice if they could have used his “army guy” knowledge from the show to better use, perhaps giving him heavy fire power or letting him drive or something. As it is, he just seems like the slow-motion version of Spike, which isn’t who he is on the show at all.
Much of the story revolves around the Scooby gang trying to figure out what is causing the outbreak of violence and how you can stop it. Throughout the course of the game you will run into a number of familiar foes, including Giles old pal Ethan Rayne, Anyanka the vengeance demon, and Adam, a robotic creature made up of parts from all kinds of demons and creatures. These enemies aren’t just reintroduced so you will have somebody to fight, but rather as part of some larger plan concocted by “the first”. If you can figure out what is going on in time, then you may just be able to live to see another episode.
Most of the Buffy cast is back to reprise their rolls, with the exception of a few key missing voices. Much like the original game, Sarah Michelle Geller is nowhere to be found, so we get somebody doing their best imitation of Buffy. It never quite sounds exactly like the real slayer, but ends up being as close as you could hope for. The Willow sound alike, however, didn’t turn out nearly as well. It’s clear the voice they were gunning for, but it certainly comes more as a Saturday Night Live parody than the red-headed Wicca she’s supposed to be. This is especially disappointing after the wonderful job Alyson Hannigan did in the original Buffy game.
The over-all atmosphere is spot-on; every measure of the moody incidental music to the theme song performed by Nerf Herder sounds like it’s lifted directly from the show. Although a few of the sound effects are a tad over used (especially the character grunts and expressions), for the most part the game sounds as intense as any other action game this year. About the only thing missing is the obscure indie band playing at the Bronze.
Where the game begins to fall down, though, is when you see the graphics. The original game, released almost exactly one year earlier, looked good, but not spectacular. Now a year later, twelve months of Xbox games trying to outdo each other, it’s hard to get excited by the outdated look of Chaos Bleeds. The backgrounds, while effective, are extremely simple and rudimentary. Though a lot of the enemies are well drawn, some of the character models of our heroes look a little off. With a different voice and a low-polygon character model, Ayna (a personal favorite of mine) is extremely difficult to pick out of a crowd.
The crummy graphics aren’t the only thing to return from the original, as you’ll find that the camera has more than a few control issues. For the most part the camera behaves itself, but every so often, especially in close quarters, it tends to be just as unruly as any one of the beasts crawling out of the Hellmouth. Thankfully it’s nothing you can’t work around, but it does add some unneeded frustration to the game.
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