Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
Artoon Vampire Rain
- Great variety of sneaky movement abilities, a couple interesting gadgets, coddling tutorials.
- Lobotomized AI, terrible audio, by-the-numbers missions, sub-par texturing, not scary in the least.
Vampire Rain is yet another misfire in a long line of terrible action titles for the Xbox 360. Don't be swayed in by the 'cool' vampire setting or you are going to get bitten.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
Lots of effort goes into the creation of mediocre games, but man-hours of labor alone are no substitute for loving craftsmanship. You can tell when the developers just weren't trying, and every aspect of Vampire Rain bears those revealing scars.
Vampire Rain's recipe certainly sounds intriguing: Take Splinter Cell's movement and stealth repertoire, mix in traditional third-person run-and-gun action, and serve over a bed of supernatural lore. Unfortunately, even the world's yummiest recipe turns out like charcoal if the chef's not paying attention.
You can write off any narrative acumen almost immediately. The game's plot revolves around a secret special ops team that has been formed to combat the growing menace of Nightwalkers that have been terrorizing the nation's cities. However, with an armored personnel carrier labeled "Pizza Delivery," you might wonder if Vampire Rain is meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek.
Ultimately, any laughter these hapless proceedings pull from you is strictly unintentional, and usually at the expense of some of the worst voice-over this side of Resident Evil. Every last line of unnatural dialogue sounds like a first read, replete with stilted pregnant pauses and emotionless rigidity.
The rest of the sound design actually fares even worse, thanks to wimpy firearm sound effects that'll make you wonder if you're wielding a machine gun or a salad shooter while cheesy "scare" music pervades the background. The best stealth games have you relying on your ears to avoid detection while eavesdropping on enemy conversations, but here you'll hear only cheesy and ineffectual stingers.
Out of the Shadows
Vampire Rain is hardly a treat for the eyes, either; the texturing has a last-generation grain, and visual effects like rain trails seem disconnected from the objects they're supposed to enhance. However, the nightwalkers' disintegration process is mildly amusing, and Necrovision--a visual filter that highlights vampires in red and humans in green--is an interesting twist that lets you track the position and facing of enemies.
The ominous mix of light and shadow is decent, but there's seldom any reason to find dark spots to creep through when your opponents are dumb as rocks. The incessant rain is supposedly the only thing dulling vampire senses enough to keep them from sniffing you out immediately, but no amount of moisture and lightning can explain away the rank stupidity every last one exhibits. If you see two nightwalkers having a chat in human form on the street, feel free to snipe one's head off from a distance--his buddy will happily continue conversing with the resulting puddle of goo.
Fly by Wire
The only thing that Vampire Rain does decently is replicate Sam Fisher's physical prowess. You can mantle any object with the push of a button, shimmy along narrow ledges, climb pipes and ladders, slide down zip-lines, and rappel from buildings. Some levels are open enough to make fair use of your abilities and find creative ways to a roof-top or through a well-guarded door. Unfortunately, even these drawn-out excursions are marred by arbitrary and invisible barriers, poor checkpoint placement, and pedestrian mission objectives.
Xbox Live support exposes eight players to predictable multiplayer modes like deathmatch and "capture the flame." But, given the disappointing single player campaign, anyone unfortunate enough to purchase Vampire Rain is guaranteed an empty lobby. In truth, the biggest mystery here isn't how vampires evolved and rose to power, but how any publisher could justify a $99.95 price tag for a tiresome exercise in imitation and slipshod execution.
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