First seeing the light of day way back in 2004, BloodRayne 2 is a sequel to the original BloodRayne, unsurprisingly. It is however not a direct sequel. The game was then re-released in 2020 as BloodRayne 2: Terminal Cut, and has finally rocked up at the door of the Xbox as BloodRayne 2: ReVamped.
So, what can we expect from a remake of a remake? Well, not a remake, for a kick off. What this game is not is a remake nor a new game, instead it’s a console release of the original game with technical updates and improvements. So, with our expectation management firmly in place, let’s see what this all adds up to, shall we?
Well, the story of Revamped 2 should be our first call, and so I’ll do my best to explain what our motivation is in all of this. We are Rayne, a dhampir, which is what happens when a vampire mates with a human. Rayne’s father, Kagan, is a very nasty piece of work indeed, and he has not only killed her mother, but also Professor Trumain, who pretty much raised Rayne and taught her right from wrong.
Kagan was thought to have died in an explosion caused by Trumain, who blew himself and Kagan up in an attempt to save Rayne, but now it appears that the celebrations may have been a little premature. In the meantime, Rayne has aligned herself with the Brimstone Society, and has been systematically exterminating all of her brothers and sisters in an attempt to rid the world of the scourge of vampirism.
The very first thing I have to touch on with ReVamped 2 is that when the developers said that this wasn’t a remake, it appears they weren’t kidding. The game looks like it did back in the day; that day being 2004. Now, in those days, we didn’t know any better, and I for one thought it looked pretty good. However, with the power of the new generation of consoles, I would have hoped that the “technical updates and improvements” might have seen BloodRayne 2: ReVamped resemble something other than a dull, foggy, mess; I’m sorry to be blunt but the in-engine cutscenes are laughable, with the same graphics as the original.
My favourite part of going back to the past is the way the characters have heads that are not quite round enough, but then the models of the faces appear to have been wrapped around and made to fit. You know how it’s very difficult to wrap a football in Christmas paper without it looking scruffy and odd? Yeah, it’s a bit like that.
Another fun thing is that when the characters speak (and the voice work is passable, if nothing else), the characters’ lips don’t move. Add to this the short draw distances, the jerky camera that gets confused when you try to lock-on to enemies, the same cookie cutter foes who appear again and again, and soon you will start to have a feeling of deja vu every time the music kicks up a notch. Still, at least Rayne’s *ahem* “feminine charms” are on full display, so that’s okay.
So, ReVamped 2 looks like it was made in 2004 – and it was – but how does it play out? Well, pretty much the same, to be honest.
There are two aspects to the gameplay: the combat side, and the exploring/traversal side. Now, Rayne has all the usual platforming tropes at her disposal, including a double jump, which comes in handy when looking for items in the environment. She also has a nifty line in rail grinding, being able to slide down any cables she finds, along with skills that would have seen her sorted as a tightrope artist in a previous life as she can also walk back up some of the cables too. She’s a dab hand at swinging on bars, moving from one to another, yet it’s here where the wheels start to get a little loose.
Remember in the early Tomb Raider games, how Lara would swing around the horizontal bars until you asked her to jump? Yeah, Rayne doesn’t do that, instead swinging once and perching on top of the bar. Then, to get her to swing again, you have to press Up on the left stick. That takes a little while to work out, as it seems so counterintuitive. Basically you have one swing to make your jump, and if you miss the window, you have to start again. Now, this would be fine if she wasn’t getting shot to pieces by enemies on the ground, but that rarely happens, and the amount of times I’ve reached the end of a swinging section with barely any health is ridiculous.
Her wall jumping is another highlight, as Rayne can only hop between walls in certain areas; trying it anywhere else will see her fall over. Luckily though, she can activate something called Aura Vision, which allows her to not only see where the enemies are coming from, but will also highlight all of the areas of the level she can interact with, which makes things a little easier. Basic running about is not too bad in the grand scene of things.
Combat is another area of BloodRayne 2: ReVamped where it never really feels good. The swings of her swords,and the kicks that follow on never feel like there’s any weight to them. The same is equally true when Rayne is on the receiving end of a kicking. Things actually get worse when Rayne finds The Carpathian Dragons, as these are the most annoyingly imprecise pieces of weaponry that you’ll have the misfortune to fire. Locking-on doesn’t seem to help, and neither does blind firing. Honestly you’re almost better off without them at all, especially as they drain your health when fired! Luckily Rayne can refill her health by feeding on enemies, and it soon becomes second nature for her to hop on board and then finish them with a button press, rather than trying to beat them in regular combat. If I had to sum up the combat system in a phrase, it would be “annoyingly imprecise”.
Now, you may get the feeling that I’ve struggled to really like BloodRayne 2: Revamped, and that’s because largely, I didn’t. Games have moved on massively since the early 2000s and while BloodRayne 2: ReVamped is almost like a time capsule, it feels like a rushed port, with no real attempt made to tailor the game to the console market or controller even. I mean, why is the lock-on and block button the same input? If you try to lock-on and then attack, sometimes Rayne will but other times she will block. Hell, sometimes she will do neither, and it is this uncertainty in the controls, both in combat and exploring, that makes the game worse than it has the potential to be.
I would love to see a proper remake of the early BloodRayne games, but sadly this non-remake isn’t that.
BloodRayne 2: ReVamped is on the Xbox Store