Vampire Rain

Review

posted 7/26/2007 by Randy Kalista
other articles by Randy Kalista
One Page Platforms: 360
Essentially, the horror aspect of Vampire Rain is laughable, since it doesn't churn up any brooding atmospherics beyond the non-stop sheet of rain, and the only dread you will sense is not from dying at the hands of Nightwalkers, but dread from having to hear your gurgling-belch of a death cry while staring at that damnable Game Over screen for the umpteenth time (I didn't even know they still made those things). 
 
If that little convention isn't old-timey enough, then phrases like "We haven't seen hide nor hair of them" is used at least twice in the script. Another head-scratcher came along when I listened to two Nightwalkers (in human form) talking to each other:
 
Lady: "What are you doing?"
Guy: "What? I did what you told me."
Lady: "And?"
Guy: "You're getting on my nerves."
Lady: "I've never seen anyone like you before."
Guy: "Quiet!"
 
And I can't imagine anything too important was lost in translation from the original Japanese. A few times you'll overhear nonsensical drama between the Nightwalkers, and none of it contributes to the story, and none of it makes much sense, not even to the Nightwalkers talking to each other.
 
One ghostly character that doesn't speak is a little girl from Lloyd's past. But if you've seen one spooky, speechless schoolgirl in a Japanese horror game carrying a music box, you've seen 'em all. It's a staple to the genre and, while one of the few intriguing moments creeping around the not-so-creepy story, it's a long-worn out trope of scary campfire story time.
 
At last, over half a dozen chapters in, Lloyd gets a chance to put some hurt on the Nightwalkers. It's sniper shots to the head, shotgun blasts at close range, and backstabbing with a UV knife that finally let you get your hands dirty. The other half of your arsenal -- the pistol, sub machine gun, and fully-automatic rifle -- are worthless in the face of a charging Nightwalker. The inclusion of such weaponry is completely superfluous except for a few heavily-scripted moments when your entire squad is lined up to open fire on some of the baddies. Even then, it's terribly unsatisfying since it was a completely scripted moment with minimal input on your part beyond pulling the right trigger on your controller. It's a good thing you get some sniping, shotgunning, and stabbing action, as it feels good every single time you get to reduce those godforsaken Nightwalkers into a pillar of ash and smoke -- them looking like a long pull off a cigarette -- and watching them wash away as a vomitous spill of acidic residue. A fitting death, considering how Vampire Rain tries to inject an outdated mode of "sexy" into these beasts by having most Nightwalkers be avid chain-smokers. There's your M for Mature rating, kids!
 
But not so fast. Many movements you make are interrupted by too-tightly placed cut scenes, especially when you start moving around with your team on the same screen. You'll see a cut scene of your squad moving towards a door they need to breach. Then you're given 10 steps' worth of in-game time as you run up to the door. Then you're interrupted by another cut scene of your squad going inside the building for a continuing cut scene of some little bit of big-yawn horror. This is one dusk-till-dawn game that could've learned a lot more pacing and direction from the B-grade films it halfheartedly imitates.
 
If you've really got to drag this one out, the standard deathmatch, king of the hill, and capture the flag games all await on LIVE (with team variations of these matches intact). It will finally scratch your itchy trigger finger -- since the single-player game predominantly fits you in Chinese finger-cuffs -- and in multiplayer you can be a high-jumping, powered-down Nightwalker, or an ambling, gun-toting human. This should give you about 30 more minutes of extended gameplay before you righteously take this energy-draining, bloodsucking sack and burn it in effigy.



F
Without any tension buildup, the stealth-action is merely electroshock therapy when you make bad decisions. Without any psychological suspense, the survival-horror won't elicit any flinching from unexpected scares or cringing from alarming imagery. If you approach Vampire Rain more appropriately as an only-one-way-to-win 3D puzzle game … you'd still be justified in calling for a trade embargo against producer Artoon.


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