BloodRayne: Terminal Cut Review
She’s back! Ziggurat Interactive’s BloodRayne: Terminal Cut resurrects Rayne, the Nazi-hunting half-vampire, for a new generation of impressionable young gamers. Today, she’s probably most remembered for a series of risqué print ads that ran in gaming magazines throughout 2002, but at the time she briefly became something of an edgy industry mascot. How well, then, does her debut adventure hold up all these years later?
The story begins deep in the swamps of Louisiana, 1933. Rayne (voiced by Laura Bailey in an early role) has been sent by the mysterious Brimstone Society to investigate a plague that’s sweeping the area. Upon arrival, she’s greeted by hideously mutated bayou residents and a race of monstrous spiders. Neither are particularly friendly.
This opening section is really a 90 minute acrobatics tutorial since the mutants and spiders don’t put up much of a fight. Rayne’s single biggest vampire weakness is a fatal aversion to water, and that’s a problem when you’re trying to navigate a flooded town. Luckily for Rayne, she can jump 20 feet high and spin through the air to cover more distance. Landing on a rooftop is easy enough, but aiming for something more precise like a tombstone or telephone line often ends with a splash.
It’s a dreary beginning, but stick with it and the action soon jumps ahead five years. Rayne has been dispatched to a Nazi military base in Argentina, where BloodRayne begins in earnest. You’ve got a list of high-ranking Nazi officers to assassinate, and you will spend the next six hours chasing Nazis, dismembering Nazis, riddling Nazis with bullets, and drinking Nazi blood. They’re about to have a bad night.
In fact, forget about the SS and focus on the SSS – Shoot, Slash and Suck. That’s the entire core gameplay loop. You enter a room and use Rayne’s generous auto-aim to soften up any opposition with some dual-wielded gunfire, then wade in like a seductive weed whacker and ruin them limb by limb. Finally, because Rayne is unable to block attacks, you’ll want to wrap her legs around the last surviving Nazi and feast on their jugular to replenish any lost health.
“Is this a piece of your brain?”
It can get quite messy, and unfortunately that extends beyond the mounds of broken corpses left in Rayne’s wake. For whatever reason, there’s no consistency to Rayne’s blade attacks. Sometimes, even the lowliest enemy can tank a dozen hits before finally keeling over. Other times, it’ll only require one swipe to separate a Nazi’s face from his skull. Similarly, most guns are peashooters that might as well be loaded with harsh language. More powerful weapons like double-barrelled shotguns and heavy machine guns exist, but are in short supply with very limited ammo.
Rayne does have a few special abilities at her disposal, the first and most helpful of which is “Blood Rage”. Activate this at any time to become an unstoppable meat grinder, unfettered by pity or remorse. Later, you’ll unlock a slow motion power because it was 2002, and eventually a first-person aiming mode. I don’t want to call that last ability completely useless… but it felt completely useless.
Most of the targets on Rayne’s hit list are just uniformed Nazis with inflated health bars, but some take the form of proper boss fights. Memorable examples include a high priest whose pulpit doubles as a mobile Gatling gun, a provocatively dressed doctor who uses her own minions as test subjects, and a steampunk cyborg supersoldier. Nearly all of them can be easily beaten via a proto-Dark Souls method of hugging their backside and slashing away in Blood Rage.
Actually finding your prey can take a bit of work. Levels tend to be short but sprawling affairs with plenty of verticality. You can use “Aura Vision” to highlight the location of Rayne’s objective, but navigating these compact labyrinths can lead to some accidental backtracking. It’s especially annoying if you have a breakthrough, only to then die and restart an entire stage because, in ruthless 2002 fashion, there are no mid-level checkpoints or manual saves in this dojo.
That’s usually not a problem, because whether you’re facing Nazis, parasitic demons or ancient vampires with nipple piercings, BloodRayne is a fairly easy game. Or it is until you reach one of its infrequent gimmick stages. Early on, Rayne must follow a spider back to its lair without losing sight of it. The challenge doesn’t come from falling behind, but getting too far ahead and accidentally failing the mission because you were too damn good. Later, you’re briefly put in control of a bipedal tank. It’s slow, it turns like a yacht, there’s no way to repair it, and you’re expected to defeat five other tanks. It’s a truly awful section that drags the whole game down and honestly I’m still angry about it.
Nuts & Bolts
The Terminal Cut updates Bloodrayne for modern operating systems, boasts native widescreen support, performs smoothly at 60fps and features crisp, uncompressed textures. Technical quirks include cutscenes locked at 30fps, and the default brightness being set far too high. Gamepad support is welcome, but camera control feels stiff and sluggish compared to using a mouse.
Keep in mind this is still based on the old German-friendly PC version, and therefore still lightly censored. Blood and gore is fully intact, but swastikas are swapped out for triskelions (though a few cheeky portraits of Hitler remain). For some reason the swamp mutants are now green. This feels less like censorship, and more like someone at Ziggurat is a really big Shrek fan. Mods do exist online, if you want a more authentic experience.
BloodRayne is a perfect example of the brazen schlock best produced from early 2000s game development, but it still carries a number of frustrations typical to that era. If you can persevere, this optimised Terminal Cut offers a hilariously cathartic opportunity to drown the Third Reich in their own blood.
Just please don’t ask me about the cheat codes.