We reckon developer Artoon’s mastery of irony is pretty spectacular: here’s a game called Vampire Rain; it features hundreds of vampires (check) and it never stops raining (check). That’s like calling Gran Turismo… “Car Drive”. Bravo, then, for that. It’s not that Altered Species is appalling. That’s the problem – even if it is little more than a vanilla port of a two-year-old Xbox 360 game. Rather, it’s how dull and derivative an effort it is – a kind of hodgepodge of ideas nabbed from Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell and so on, all smashed together and presented beneath the greyest, most persistently precipitous skies we’ve seen since, um, yesterday morning on the drive to work.
As the zero-charisma John Lloyd, you spend most of your time talking with anti-Nightwalker vamp-killing comrades who have bad accents and speak like dunces, before heading out into the pissing rain to do something stealthy, find something or recover a lost item, protect something, or shoot everything to hell.
The game engine is a smooth mover at a constant 60fps while the rain and puddle effects are, fittingly, very wet-looking. After an hour or so we got the feeling we were playing a game that has been put together quite crudely. Level design is far too simple and therefore not especially satisfactory once a map has been cleared, and the script and plot are as obvious and predictable as Hollywood’s most backward of productions. “Hey Todd, that’s gnarly, dude, but… damn, whoah, my god – a vampire!” Even Ashton Kutcher would balk at these lines.
The controls provide reasonable feedback, which is just as well as the Nightwalker vampires have a knack for appearing when you least expect them to, presenting the game’s one challenge. Ultimately, this is just a B-game – you’ll cringe every time something ‘good’ happens (the vampire animations are quite upsetting) and you’ll grind your teeth every time something goes fangs-up (like the sudden deaths you’ll suffer for not tip-toeing Snake-like through levels). Lesson: if it’s raining outside, stay home and play something else.
Oct 9, 2008