Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
If I was told a game that is a mashup of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Resident Evil 4 were on its way to my house, well I’d be excited to see the sneaky horror that waits. Unfortunately Vampire Rain is more like Splinter Cell: Graphical Mediocrity meets Resident Evil: Holy Crap Who Paid For This Dialogue. Except that it may be a bit worse. We’re not talking about some no name guys who threw together crap either. The real problem is that the game’s concept had promise, and the people were there to make it at least good. Artoon has a little title being released in the U.S. soon you may have heard of, Blue Dragon. I’ve played that and there’s just no excuse for the mediocrity in Vampire Rain. That’s simply unforgivable.
You probably want to know what could possibly incur my wrath. Lucky for you, I’m interested in sharing. The story of Vampire Rain is vapid and uninvolving. People around the world have been dying, and vampires appear in their place. Being soulless killers, the Nightwalkers – as the game calls them – get out of control with their bloodthirsty ways. To combat the problem a task force is set up to take on the vamps. That’s where you come in. You’re John Lloyd, the everyman. Well, technically you’re a trained soldier. But you wouldn’t know that from any amount of playtime. And that’s the story. Vampires are taking over, and your cliché group of buddies has to stop them.
But hey, a game about shooting vampires doesn’t have to enthrall us with the story. I’d agree, as long as the gameplay works then we have a winner. As John you’ll walk around, crouch, and climb on blocks that have generic looking skins over them. One time the box will look like a dumpster, at another point it may be an air conditioner. You never know what kind of box you’ll be climbing up and over. Woohoo! Then comes the real fun, confronting the vampires. You’re shown a cone of vision for the vamps in the vicinity on your map. For any gamer it’s obvious you need to wait until they are looking the other way before making a move. I guess the rain is supposed to dull the vampire’s senses of smell and hearing so that sneaking can be accomplished. Someone should tell them that because almost always – no matter how behind the vamp you are – they will spot you and kill you. Fast. Like the moment you’re spotted you have exactly 1.2 seconds to live as you’re attacked by vampires with Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 4 quickness. This is a really cool moment of adrenaline pumping action. Then it happens 17 times and the whole thing becomes tedious. That’s the gameplay for pretty much the entire game. Honestly, if the sneaking mechanic had been fine tuned Vampire Rain would be a passable waste of an afternoon. There is a co-op mode for the game, but your friends are too valuable to lose. Don’t drag them along, please.
So sad, there’s only one more hope for Vampire Rain my friends. If the graphics and sound effects are great, then at least we can enjoy looking at it. That’s something, right? It’s with great remorse that I inform you the same lackluster attempt that went into the story and gameplay rears its head here as well. The world of Vampire Rain looks so drab and generic. All of the items and buildings throughout look like cut and past geometry jobs with different skins to fool you into believing that the building you’re staring at is in some way different than the one you left 4 minutes ago. For a game that emphasizes rain, the effect is horrible. As you walk around it looks like a Photoshopped rain filter was placed on the top layer of the screen. Then there’s the way it interacts with bodies...talk about dull.
During cut-scenes you’ll watch as rain droplets run around on the person you’re talking to. Seriously, there is no remote feeling of contact between the rain and skin. It looks like little worms have caused an infestation on your friend. Laws of physics be damned because the rain likes to go in random directions, and you’ll even see two droplets pass right by each other as they go on their merry way. The most fun to be had with Vampire Rain is to imagine what the droplets are saying to one another as they pass by on the bicep highway. The sound exists in the same realm. Guns sound muddled and unimpressive, and once again the rain just doesn't measure up to anything remotely resembling what you'd expect to hear.
Here’s the thing about Vampire Rain. The game isn’t broken in gameplay, and the visuals aren’t an affront to your sensibilities. It’s simply that nothing is fully executed well. And from a developer that has worked on a beautiful and solid game like Blue Dragon, that’s just inexcusable. Vampire Rain comes off as a budget title trying to pass as an A level game. If you want horrible controls and bad voice dialogue your best choice is still the early Resident Evil games.