Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action Games
Developer – Artoon
Publisher – Microsoft / AQ Interactive
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
72 KB to Save Game
Online Multiplayer 2-8
Originally released in Japan in January 2007, Vampire Rain for the Xbox 360 quietly arrives in North America approximately 7 months later. Developed by Japanese based developer Artoon, who have creat such great hits such as Blinx: The Time Sweeper and Yoshi’s Island DS, Vampire Rain is a stealth action game featuring an abundance of Zombies and Vampires. As part of a Special Forces team, you are tasked with executing the Nightwalkers (Zombies and Vampires) including their elite leaders before they take over the world. Emulating, to a certain extent, popular stealth games like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear, Vampire Rain will test your patience and will offer up quite the challenge. At the end of the day, however, Vampire Rain was a bit of a let down and failed to live up to my expectations.
As far as the visuals are concerned Vampire Rain is a mixed bag. On one hand some of the graphics are very strong and look great in HD. On the other hand, many of the sights look more last generation as opposed to next generation.
Let’s start with the positives. The rain effects look sharp and rival the rain effects in any other next-generation game. The detail of the rain hitting the characters is very effective and incredibly well done. The effect stands out even more so when you character is in a dry environment. The rain really created a dark and gloomy atmosphere. The cut scenes are also quite well done and look very sharp in High Definition featuring an abundance of detail. The scenes are essentially in real time, so there is a nice flow from the gameplay to the cut-scenes and visa versa.
On the downside, the details of the environments are what you would expect from an earlier generation console as opposed to details we have seen on the Xbox 360. For instance, the details on the buildings are limited and nothing we haven't seen already in countless number of games. The window sills and frames are flat and offer little in the way of originality or detail. You also get the sense as you progress through the game that you have seen the same buildings over and over again. Also, there is not much to say about the lighting effects either. Compared to games such as Gears of War and GRAW 2, Vampire Rain suffers in the lighting department as there nothing original and nothing that impacts the gameplay.
Overall, the character models do look good, however their movements are lacklustre, slow and somewhat jerky. Again, there is little in the way of originality when it comes to the characters and the design is something we have already seen in other stealth and shooter games. In terms of the Enemy AI, the ‘Nightwalkers’ were also a little disappointing. The only thing that even remotely spooked me in the game was during the cut scenes, when the eerie music plays and the ‘Nightwalker’ does some sort of a creepy jerky movement. At the very least I expected the enemies to have a little bit more detail and at least try to scare the heck out of me.
As with the graphics, Vampire Rain could have been so much better in audio department. For instance, the soundtrack is less than stellar and uninspiring. The music did little to create or enhance my gameplay experience and is very repetitive. Certainly a little more variety would have been appreciated and why not include some recognizable artists to include on the soundtrack? The horror music sounds during the cut scenes are at times effective however for the most part the music and soundtrack was forgettable.
The voice acting is actually not too bad in Vampire Rain. It was certainly much better than I was anticipating. To be perfectly honest I expected subtitles galore considering the game was originally released in Japan. There are some, but not nearly the amount I was expecting. Nevertheless, the voices are clean and the actors do a seemingly decent job.
Vampire Rain’s sound effects are also not too shabby. From the sounds of the howling ‘Nightcrawlers’ to the thunder and lightning, most of the sound effects is pretty effective. Along the same lines of the visual impact the rain has, the sound of the rain drops also sound pretty good too, but it should be noted that they can sound staticy and this grating sound can be relentless at times. Then again, the name of the game is Vampire Rain so a vast amount of rain fall is to be expected.
Be forewarned, if you are expecting a run and gun game, stay away! In fact you will absolutely loath this game if you think you will be able to fly through the levels killing off all the ‘Nighwalkers’ in succession. Vampire Rain is a stealth-action game in every sense of the word. You need to take your time and exercise your patience to the highest degree.
As far as the story is concerned, the ‘Nightwalkers’ were found to be responsible for the disappearances of civilians in the United States. The American Information Bureau raises a black ops special forces unit and are deployed to the streets of Los Angeles, California, where it is raining. The rain was said to hamper the Nightwalker's abilities. Along comes the character you control, John Lloyd, the only member of the unit who has actually faced the Nightwalkers before in combat. John knows what they are capable of doing and so the game begins.
As with any stealth action game, Vampire Rain features several missions. Each mission consists of an objective. For the most part the missions are straight forward, but the challenging aspect of the game is getting to your objective without being seen by the ‘Nightwalkers’. If you are seen by them, they zip towards you at record speed and rip you apart. Any attempt to challenge an enemy almost always results in your immediate death as the enemies are nearly impossible to kill. It sometimes takes more than a clip to kill the enemy. That is if you even have time to unload the clip. Needless to say, you will be restarting missions on a countless number of occasions. It almost seems unbalanced, but I do see how the developers wanted to stress the stealth aspect of the game. In any event, I found it frustrating and an annoyance.
Vampire Rain’s constant rain helps you to certain extent as it dulls the ‘Nightwalkers’ senses as indicated above. You have a useful radar system called ‘Necrovision’ which sounds kind of wrong but it’s helpful nonetheless. This ‘Necrovision’ assists you in determining who is a ‘Nightwalker’ and who is not. You can also use this to see Elite ‘Nightwalkers’. There is also night vision but I never used it as the game really never requires you to use it.
As the game progresses you have opportunities to use a variety of weapons such as a shotgun, sniper rifle and a battery operated UV knife. For instance, the knife gives off UV rays and kills the enemies instantly. A frustrating aspect of the game was that fact that you don’t always keep your high powered weaponry from mission to mission. You would think that if a certain weapon was working quite well, your special ops unit would keep that weapon for the next mission. Well, this is sadly not the case in Vampire Rain.
All the missions are different but you have a set path you have to follow. Again, it becomes incredibly frustrating at times as you would like to deviate from the set path. Unfortunately, Vampire Rain will not allow you to do so.
The missions also have a ranking system. The highest ranking you can achieve is an ‘S’ ranking which requires you to pick up every item, take no damage, use no continues, and only use a certain amount of bullets depending on the mission. Vampire Rain also features unlockable Tutorials and Trials. These are essentially side missions that either teach you new skills or present some sort of new challenge.
In terms of the online play, up to eight players can participate over numerous gameplay types, including Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flame, and Team Capture the Flame (CTF). While it does present as a lag free experience the games are far from enjoyable. The online play does not feel smooth and games are difficult to play given the lack of players playing Vampire Rain online.
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