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Review of Blade 2
To start things off, Blade II is a totally awesome movie. In my opinion it outdoes the original in virtually every category (story, special effects, action, etc.). Bringing out a game that loosely follows the plot of the flick is no small task I am sure, but like I always said…if you can’t do something right why bother doing it at all?
First a little background for those of you that don’t have clue as to what Blade is. Blade is a very rare vampire that is result of the mating of a vampire with a human. Blade retains all of the strength and powers of a full-fledged vampire, but also has the ability to walk daylight, as he is not affected by the sunlight as other vampires are. Because of this, Blade is called a “Day Walker” by the other vampires and is seen as an outcast. Doesn’t really matter to Blade though, as he hates the whole vampire race and has made it his mission in life to wipe out every last vampire on the planet. Unfortunately Blade has also inherited one other attribute from the vampires and that is his need to feast on fresh blood. To help him combat this desire and need, he injects himself with a serum that retards this desire for a limited amount of time and enable Blade to function without having to draw blood.
Blade II is a story driven action title that plays out kind of like reading a book with chapters (campaigns) that must be completed and subplots (missions) within each chapter. Gamers must first start off in Blades training arena with his human partner, Whistler, shouting out commands/tasks that Blade must first complete before actually beginning the real game. The training covers the basics and teaches the player how to shot a pistol, throw a few punches and kicks, jump and maneuver and how to collect glyphs. Once this rather simple exercise is over it’s on to the main game.
The first campaign has Blade tacking down a vampire that is attempting to transport a rare (genetically altered) blood sample. Before actually getting to this creature though, Blade will have to complete a series of others missions that involve knocking out communications devices, killing some elders and taking out some vampire gangs. This takes place through a series of locations starting in a back alley, progressing through a huge ass parking garage and into a night club (The Blood Club).
Along the way Blade can collect Glyphs that award the player with points and enable them to use locked weapons quicker than just compiling points for the missions. This is a good thing since the only weapon initially available is the pistol and some ammo. In addition there are also sub-tasks that can be completed to gain even more bonus points. Other weapons that can eventually be collected are the shotgun, a UV grenade, silver knuckles and the Glaive. The Glaive while very cool (you can target multiple vampires at a time and take their heads off) is only effective as a medium range weapon. My weapon of choice is the trusty shotgun. It may be slow to load, but it can take out three vampires at a time with a single shot if they are lined up properly.
The levels for the most part are pretty nice and wide open, with average design. The space gives Blade enough room to fight and maneuver, which is nice because there can be times when 8 or more vampires/humans are attacking him at one time (hell, in the night club there must have been 20 enemies swarming him at once). I must also add that it appears from the buildings that some of the vampire groups own, they must pull in more money than Donald Trump. Guess living several thousand years has its perks.
Playing through Blade II is no easy task. Each level is quite challenging and the wonky camera can occasionally make things more difficult than it needs to be. Learning how to properly balance hand-to-hand combat with weapon usage is key to being victorious. Save points during levels do not become available until a bit later in the game, so the first several levels have to be completed in one shot or you have to start the level over from the beginning. Health power-ups are sporadic so gamers shouldn’t depend on them. Luckily Blade possesses a powerful equalizer called Rage. As you engage in combat, the Rage meter fills and at certain points three little icons (Rage indicators) will ignite and glow blue. These indicators are (in the order received), Sword, Shield and Strength. Pressing the R1 button activates Blades rage and depending how full the Rage meter is when activated determines how long Blade will remain in this state. The best bet is to wait until the meter is full and all of the Rage indicators are lit. This will give Blade the maximum Rage time and also grants access to his Sword, a Shield which makes him invulnerable until the Rage subsides and Strength which makes him strong as an ox. Naturally the best time to activate Rage is when Blade is surrounded with a seemingly impossible amount of foes to defeat. Rage will enable him to slice right through dozens of vampires without getting a scratch.
Graphically, Blade II is a mixed bag. First we will start with the character models. They are very well defined, nicely colored and feature good texturing. Blade looks like Wesley Snipes and the bad guys look like bad guys. For some strange reason though, as the game plays out and the camera pulls back a bit, the characters get a somewhat squished look to them. They almost appear like the squat players from the first Madden PS2 game only not as detailed. The animations are pretty nice, but somewhat stiff at times.
The background are nicely detailed but the textures are somewhat washed out and certain objects do blur when viewed up close (walls, vending machines, etc.). The overall look does however capture the dark style of the movie and isn’t entirely unpleasant to look at. Many objects can be destroyed like glass, ornaments, computer terminals, etc. What bothered me though about the backgrounds was that in some locations (take the garage for example), there would be openings (like concrete dividers) that Blade couldn’t jump over. To make matters worse, he couldn’t even shoot enemies clearly visible on the other side…WTF?
The lighting is top notch and I thought that the reflections off of the marble floors for instance were excellent. The dissolving vampire effect that was such an awesome part of the movie (when a vampire is killed they combust and then turn to ash) is pretty nicely replicated in the game.
There wasn’t really anything disappointing with the overall look of the game, its just pretty average. Put it this way, there are certainly better looking titles for the PS2 out there, but there are also many titles that are far worse.
The voice samples used for Blade are pretty bad, but the ones for Whistler are pretty nicely done and actually sound like Kristofferson. The game also earns its “R” rating not only for violence, but for language as well. Whistler (and other characters as well) can quite often be heard spouting off obscenities throughout the game.
The sound effects are decent and what I would expect from an action title, with obvious sound bytes being taken directly from the flick (like the dissolving vampire sound). The music is also clipped directly from the movie and plays on incessantly in the background.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Blade 2' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
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