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Posted on Jun 19, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Vampire Rain Preview

By James Pikover

Everyone knows that stealth games fall prey to the Splinter Cell or Metal Gear franchises. Ubisoft and Konami have simply done a phenomenal job with the games. Artoon, a Japanese developer, decided to take a different approach to the stealth genre by throwing in vampires and the undead. Enter Vampire Rain.

Recently the demo has been released outside the US and Europe. Featuring two full missions and two trial missions as training, the 642Mb demo is fully packed. The additional online play through Xbox Live makes it a wonder in the world of demos.

The graphics are just better than the expected level of original Xbox games. It flows well, although some movements and actions are forced and tend to look very unrealistic. Buildings that aren’t accessible tend to be hollow and see through from certain angles.

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Something else that isn’t very noticeable at first is the odd structure of ledges and paths available. Toting realism has done well for VR, but more often then not building’s have stairwells leading to places that would be considered inaccessible or walkways that don’t really lead anywhere. It’s possible to make use of them, but no real building would have such access ways.

Voice acting was not up to par with any game these days. Much of the game’s dialogue is also scripted and programmed to loop until certain events happen.

The AI was alright, though for a stealth game it is hard to imagine enemies not spotting a player when he stands on the baddies side. The AI is either dumb or has poor vision. Once it knows where to strike however, the game is as good as over. Thankfully this AI is only for the ‘dumb’ vampires. The more intelligent ones did not make it into the demo.

With all these faults, VR is actually very fun to play. A clever mixture of Splinter Cell and F.E.A.R., then adding vampires makes gameplay surprisingly enjoyable. Searching for the correct path to take, choosing between paths or whether to engage enemies, it was very entertaining.

Maps were also very large and very realistic. Although the story is meant to take place in Los Angeles, it isn’t like Streets of LA where block by block is true to the real world counterpart. It still looks and feels like a west coast city, and running across the street, other than being the perfect fear inducer, is very nice to watch.

What don’t we get enough of? Killing vampires. For good reason though; they’re tough as hell. Then again, why bother making a ruckus and shooting one up when others will hear and come running to help. It’s safer just to sneak up from behind and knife them. Then watch them turn to dust.

The online play featured in the demo was deathmatch, although the full game features a few other gametypes that look very interesting, particularly Death or Nightwalker. This gametype allows players to play as either vampires, called nightwalkers, or as humans. Humans are typically weak, but gain more points per kill while vampires are the opposite. A good player could take advantage of such a gametype.

Set for release on July 3, Vampire Rain is a fun stealth game with the imagination of House of the Dead. While hardcore players might find this silly, it is entertaining and should prove to be a good addition to this summer’s list of games.

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