Blade II Review
Vampires are cool. If you’re reading this right now, there’s a good chance you probably think games are cool. Therefore, a game about vampires should automatically be cool just by default, right? I’m guessing Activision certainly thought so when they published Blade II for Xbox. Were they right? Well, that depends largely upon what you’re expecting.
For the uninitiated, Blade is a comic book character that first appeared in the 70’s. Very recently, two movies have been made about him, as well as a couple video games. This one is the most recent. The story of Blade is a tragic tale, but a simple one. Blade’s mother was bitten by a vampire while pregnant with our hero, and he was born a ‘daywalker’. What does this mean? It means he is every bit as strong, fast, and agile as the rest of the vampire population, but he can like, walk around during the day in full sunlight and they can’t (I’m guessing this is where the term came from). He could even eat a whole bulb of garlic, and then pick his teeth with a shiny, silver toothpick when he was finished. He’s got all of their strengths, but none of their traditional weaknesses. So, what does a guy like Blade do with these gifts? He has one, singular purpose: rid the world of as many of the bloodsuckers that made him into what he is as he can. The game’s setting is approximately 6 months after the events depicted in the Blade II movie, so we’re dealing with regular vampires as well as ‘reapers’; the new-and-improved model which can only be killed by ultra-violet light.
First let’s talk about the hand-to-hand combat, as this is the area that really turns off a lot of people. Developer Mucky Foot tried something quite different in this aspect, attempting to implement a 360-degree combat system, utilizing the left analog stick to direct your attacks. While it does work, it feels a bit limited and unfinished. Blade is constantly surrounded by enemies, so it becomes very necessary to be able to punch the ‘sucksheads’ that are in front of you, as well as kicking the ones coming up from behind. Unfortunately, as cool as this sounds, you don’t really get to control what you do when. Patience and timing are required for this to work well, and that leaves the fights feeling somewhat stale and repetitive. Weapons, other than Blade’s sword, are selected with the D-pad, and fired with the right trigger. The face buttons are used for jumping, activating things, reloading, and entering ‘rage’ mode (more on this in a minute).
Blade doesn’t start the game with all his fancy tools for wreaking havoc upon the vampire nation. He always has his trusty sword, but things like brass knuckles, body armor, shotguns, grenades, and his other trademark weapon, the glaive (that wicked silver boom-a-rang thingy) become available for purchase in later missions. A lot of time is spent fighting hand-to-hand, with the left analog stick, in order to fill your ‘rage’ meter. Why do you want a full rage meter? Because you get to slice and dice hordes of nasties with sweet, titanium, acid-etched justice, and cop tons of attitude while doing so. A full rage meter allows you to break out that sword, and this is where the game has its appeal. Enemies are no match for you during this brief period. Blade ruthlessly disposes of anything that moves, almost exactly as he does in your favorite scenes from the movies. Stabbings, slicings, the separation of limbs – it’s all here. It happens all the time, and in every direction. He even has cinematic ‘finishing moves’ he can unleash. Sometimes Blade will grab a victim and embed a silver spike in their head. Other times he’ll impale their thoracic cavity, and proceed to taunt them on top of it. You’ll hear catch-phrases like, “Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.” or “OOOH…so exciting!” The game is rated “M” for a reason, boys and girls. It’s a fairly bloody, violent game. Then again, however, the game deals with vampires and slaughtering them whenever possible, so what did you expect? There aren’t any different modes to this game, although it does have side goals. Some of those include destroying computer terminals along the way, or escorting Whistler through a level, while keeping him alive.
Sometimes Blade will grab a victim and embed a silver spike in their head. Other times he’ll impale their thoracic cavity, and proceed to taunt them on top of it. You’ll hear catch-phrases like, “Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.” or “OOOH…so exciting!” The game is rated “M” for a reason, boys and girls. It’s a fairly bloody, violent game. Then again, however, the game deals with vampires and slaughtering them whenever possible, so what did you expect? There aren’t any different modes to this game, although it does have side goals. Some of those include destroying computer terminals along the way or escorting Whistler through a level while keeping him alive.