Vampire Rain: Altered Species was released on the Xbox 360 last year to pretty bad reviews. The newly released version for the PS3 tries to set itself apart from its’ predecessor by tacking on a crappy subtitle and moving some cutscenes around, but this doesn’t address the real problems with the game.
Vampire Rain places you in the shoes of a Sam Fisher knockoff named John Lloyd who works for a Third Echelon knockoff named the American Information Bureau. John is tasked to take care of the “Nightwalkers”, Vampire Rain’s vampires. Apparently these vampires are running around unchecked, taking out everyone in their path. Soon, the vampire race will take over the world; in 900 days to be exact. At your side you have several team members, from your tech guy to your token hot female character. You are sent to a town to take out the prime Nightwalker, which in turn will kill all the other vampires he controls. This may sound like a decent back story, but the execution of it is less than stellar. It especially gets irritating towards the end of the game, as it seems like there is a cutscene every minute or so.
The graphics and sound in the game will definitely remind you of a decent looking PS2 game. The game takes place in the span of one night, in a rainstorm, and offers some of the most washed out, fuzzy, and downright crappy looking graphics I have seen this gen. As you wander the city, you come across nothing but 2D, drawn store fronts with no definition whatsoever. The city is sparsely populated, and the NPCs and nightwalkers you come across are blocky and move with stunted, jerky animations. The animation of the main characters is decent, but the poor graphics detract from them. The sound isn’t much better, with really bad voice acting, horrible death sounds, and even worse music.
The gameplay doesn’t fare any better, bordering on controller throwing frustrating. The objective of the game is for you to sneak through the city, avoiding blood suckers as best you can, all the while, moving towards your final objective. With most stealth oriented games you are given several different ways to accomplish your tasks. See an alley? Use it to go around the guards. See a ladder or storm drain? Use it to scale the building. Unfortunately, the developers of Vampire Rain missed “Stealth Gaming 101″ because you are ushered down the one set path they want you to go. See that alley there? Don’t even think of going through there, because you will either A: Run into a wall, B: Hit an invisible wall or C: Told to quit leaving the mission and sent back down the linear path they want you to follow. This takes most of the stealth out of the stealth action game, making this more of trial and error than anything.
The enemies in the game are on one hand completely clueless, and the other, the smartest, strongest enemies ever. They sit, staring straight ahead, occasionally moving around. Once you are spotted, you have a second or two to move to cover before they shed their human form and begin their relentless stalking of you. You could move back up a building, over a fence, across a street, back up another building, and they will still find you. And once they do, you may as well lay the controller down and let the slaughter begin because the enemies in the game are able to kill you in two hits. That’s right, two hits, and the first one always disables you for the second one. There is no escaping this; there is no real way to fight back. Sure you are an elite soldier issued an assault rifle and hand gun, but the hand gun is useless, even at close range, and it takes a full magazine from the assault rifle to take them down at longer range. Later on in the game you are issued a knife and shotgun which makes close combat a little more balanced, but each time you start a new level you are stripped of these and must find them again.
All these gameplay flaws makes the game maddingly frustrating as you constantly search for the one path you are suppose to follow, then try to avoid the enemies, dying more times than you can count. There were several times I found myself yelling at my TV, frustrated with dying around every corner. While some have touted this as making the game “more realistic” or that I should “sneak more”, this really just makes the game that much more horrible. There is no real skill involved in the game, just trial and error.
Vampire Rain does contain a multiplayer option, but sadly, this just further reinforces to you that the game is bad. At the time of this writing, there were less than 100 people on the leaderboards, and there were no games to be found online. Apparently word had gotten out about how bad the game is, and gamers are staying away.
Vampire Rain: Altered Species is a pretty bad game on all accounts. From the paper thin story to the frustratingly linear gameplay, there is really no fun to be had here. Add in the fact that the multiplayer is a barren wasteland, and there is really no reason to put your hard earned money down for this game. Maybe once the price point is lower, it would be worth a purchase, if only to laugh at how awful it is. There is really nothing to recommend here.
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