Games for Lunch: Vampire Rain
0:00 I have no idea what to expect from this one. Vampires falling from the sky, perhaps? With a title this bad, though, it has to be good, right?
0:01 A dark city street, and a waitress walking home. She turns, thinking she heard something. She has a very dark, very baggy face. She runs into an alley. We still haven't seen anything, but there's an eerie howling. Suddenly, a vampire crawls down from the wall above, Spider-Man style. Cut to a "for sale" sign. A government computer. A password. Some germs. Pictures of diseased faces. Blood cells. A fat guy. Lord Hessler, a guy linked to some disappearances (says a newspaper clipping). Crime scene photos. A SWAT team. ACCESS DENIED. Dr. Ernst Foley and Emily Foley and John Lloyd are missing. A chained hand. Bullet casings falling. A vampire mouth. Gun. Girl. Blood. Steely-eyed resolve. A zombie straight out of Resident Evil does an extended scream. More bullet casings. "NOW LOADING." WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?
0:04 The analog pad can't navigate the menus. You have to use the digital pad. This does not bode well.
0:06 Options: "Adjust the brightness until the color bar below the red line is no longer visible." I turn it all the way up and the color bar below the red line is JUST STARTING to become visible. Another bad sign, for either the game or the TV, I'm not sure.
0:07 Difficulty choices are "Normal" or "Hard." Uh, doesn't that mean Normal is "Easy?" Anyway, Tutorial 01: "Avoid detection."
0:08 It's raining. I should have expected as much. In a cut scene, I almost get spotted, but a "call" signal straight out of Metal Gear Solid tells me to hide, and I do. Luckily there's a conveniently placed parked truck behind which I can walk.
0:09 I make my way to a kneeling guy who looks like me. "Are you all right? Follow me!" He says in the worst voice acting I've heard in a while. I follow him to... about three feet away, where we hide behind a van. Mission over. That was... anticlimactic.
0:11 Colonel Dixon sits in an office. "We've just received contact from the advance recon team located at point E9, sir," says an underling. The extermination team is almost there. It's still raining there, until tomorrow morning. "Is the nightwalker population really expected to exceed that of humans in 908 days?" asks the underling. Now that's some natural dialogue. "That's what happens when you let pencil-pushers run the country!" Dixon rages. "They did nothing when nightwalkers took victims every night." "I heard about your family, sir; I'm sorry." "So am I, son. So am I." Wow. This is either very bad or it's a very good parody. The president considers Dixon's team a watchdog. "Well, guess what. The watchdog just grew a set of teeth, and now it's time to bite back." Groan!
0:13 Now out with a field team of SWAT-looking agents. Lots of exposition... my character has faced walkers before, but not in a professional elimination. "It's a miracle he survived, seeing as he wasn't armed with any anti-walker weapons," says Kelly. The advance team just went incommunicado. Kelly wants to look around the city. "This isn't a sightseeing mission, Kelly," says our CO. Oh snap!
0:16 After WAY too much explanatory dialogue, we start to make our way to a rendezvous point. I have to follow my CO, whose name I've already forgotten. After literally 20 seconds. "Hold it, somebody's coming." Some fat guy and a homeless man are out on the street, so we can't go that way. Luckily, there's a pipe to climb. "Follow me!" he says, reusing the voice clip from the tutorial. At least the rain is pretty.
0:19 "The last thing we need ... are local cops." The first thing we need is voice acting lessons. Why the hell can't we be seen? We're supposed to be some super human protection squad -- why are we scared of cops? Anyway, we have to go to the north end of the sewer now for some reason. I wasn't really listening, but I doubt I'd understand much better if I were.
0:20 The fat guy from before gets in a white van. This is obviously very dramatic and important, judging from the camera angle and music, but I can't tell why, exactly. The character animation is pretty good, though.
0:22 A nightwalker did some blood grafitti on this wall. It's been mixed with a "hardener." "What kind of hardener?" "Do you really want to know?" "No... I guess not." WELL I DO! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? We take a sample for the lab. Sigh.
0:24 We're following the leader, the leader, the leader... Seriously, that is my one-sentence summary of this game so far, plus a bland, uninteresting cut scene every few seconds.
0:26 In the most expositional way possible, Kelly tells me to put on the night vision goggles in the dark sewer. They run out of charge after a good five seconds, but that's OK, I can see just fine without them, despite the "darkness."
0:27 "What the..." "Looks like a corpse." WHY ARE YOU SURPRISED BY A CORPSE? THE WORLD IS OVERRUN BY MONSTERS! *pant pant pant*
0:28 This is the longest, dullest tutorial I have ever played for such a simple game. It's not even officially the tutorial, it's the first real chapter. Still, all I'm doing is following a guy around and being told how to do basic moves. They could have covered this stuff in five minutes if they were really trying.
0:29 I just noticed the game is ridiculously quiet. There's no background music at all for most portions. I suppose this is intended to heighten the drama, but really it just seems poorly produced.
0:30 Meanwhile, in a cut scene, a ravaged-looking woman gets dragged into a pipe. "Don't bother. Nothing can save her now." Oh really? Nothing? Not even the ELITE BAND OF VAMPIRE KILLERS THAT WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE? Sigh.
0:31 Note to developers: If you name a game "Vampire Rain," you should have some vampires and some rain in the first half-hour of play. Not just one. Just saying.
0:33 The mission ends anticlimactically (this is becoming a running theme!) when the advance team isn't at the rendezvous point. I somehow got a B on that level. I can't see why; there was nothing to mess up!
0:35 I've opened up another mission and THREE more tutorials. Dear lord, how many tutorials can there be?!?!
0:38 The necrovision tutorial teaches me to look through a visor to find a vampire. They'll appear in red. So far I've spent three minutes and found a dozen humans and no vampire. The people are incredibly hard to pick out on the rain-drenched streets.
0:40 Found her. The sniper gives a curt "Thank you" before BLOWING THE VAMPIRE'S BRAINS OUT. There's no sound accompanying this, which may explain why the nearby humans remain expressionless and motionless. Also: Why can't I shoot the vampire myself? Would that be too exciting for a novice like me?
0:41 F&*% it, skipping the next two tutorials, going right for Mission 2. I hope I get to follow my boss some more!!!
0:43 My CO is talking to me like I am a five-year-old. "That's the comm facility. Look at it through your scope." I do. "Very good. That's the comm facility. We have to take it out. But first we have to rendezvous with Hansen." Yeah, I watched the F*&$ING TWO-MINUTE CUT SCENE that JUST EXPLAINED THAT you STUPID GIT! I wish I was making any of this up.
0:45 Well, it only took 45 minutes for me to draw my gun for the first time, and I get to use it to... take out a door lock. Wow. Just... wow.
0:46 "From here on, we'll split up" OH, THANK YOU LORD! No more follow-the-leader! "Avoid any contact with the enemy." Yeah, we wouldn't want to actually, y'know, fight the vampires we're supposed to be killing or anything.
0:48 I watch, mouth agape, as quite possibly the world's stupidest human gets taken to a "romantic spot" by a girl, only to see her transform into a vampire and devour him. I suppose anyone who goes out with a strange woman, at night, in the rain, during a freaking VAMPIRE INFESTATION deserves what he gets, but still, I feel a little bad for him.
0:50 Damn. I try taking out a vampire, but two shots to the head don't even phase it. She's on top of me in seconds and I'm dead in seconds more. I guess discretion IS the better part of valor, here.
0:52 A random cigarette-smoker is standing in the rain. When he spots me, he becomes vampiric and kills me just as quickly. I'm beginning to see the point of all that stealth training.
0:55 I... I understand now. Vampire Rain isn't a sci-fi action thriller. It's a hide-and-go-seek maze game for five-year-olds. You spot a vampire, put him on your radar screen, then avoid him and go find another route. Brilliant! A total subversion of the form. Absolute genius. If only it weren't so dreadfully dull.
0:56 Quote of the moment: "I hate rain."
0:58 OH MY GOD AN ACTUAL BATTLE -- by which I mean a horribly scripted event where a vampire runs at me and I unload soundless shots into him and he dies shortly after running into me and taking most but not all of my life. EXCITING!
Would I play this game for more than an hour? No
Why not? I have a low tolerance for tedium, and I'm not five years old.
This column was based on a retail copy of the game rented from GameFly.
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