|Buffy: Chaos Bleeds|
Publisher: Vivendi Universal
Release Date: Out Now
When I was a lad TV was always great - it seemed there was always something good (and to a pre-teen) realistic on - be it Knight Rider, Automan, The A Team, Miami Vice and Doctor Who - great programmes that you always wanted to watch and in the case of Miami Vice begged to stay up for. However, over the years the strange thing is that as the TV stations grow in number, the amount of entertaining shows has plummeted - instead our screens seem to be full of "chewing gum TV" - programmes for the brain dead. Except that is for a handful of quality US shows, my favourite among those just happens to be Buffy - there is something about it, the quality plotlines, the funny dialogue, the interesting relationships, and also a fair amount of fine looking women in tight leather, who like a fight.
Chaos Bleeds tries very hard to be all of the above - it sadly does not make the grade. Billed as being a "missing" TV episode it sees you initially take the role of Buffy. The story itself is very much in the style of the TV show; it's clever, rather fast moving and allows for you to interact with pretty much all of the faves from the cast. Unlike last years Buffy game this time you get a chance to play as members of her "Scooby gang" - Willow, Xander, Spike and others. However good this sounds, this is one of the first problems I found with the game.
Buffy is great to play as she can (as the name says) slay vampires - she can kick, punch, throw and stake (stab the undead with a wooden stake to kill them) her way until there are hundreds of dead umm… undead. Punches are done with a quick press of square and kicks with the X button - random button bashing and stick twirling sees her at her fighting best - even the biggest game novice can soon be pulling off some very impressive attacks. When the vamp of your choice is ripe for the taking a quick tap of the L1 button sees them get dusted. It's all rather smooth and rather simplistic but as with most countless destruction style games it's a lot of fun. However, the problem is with the other Characters…
Spike is fine, being a Vamp himself you can fight toe to toe just like Buffy - the combat mechanics are the same, just slightly different visuals. Willow is a witch - she does not fight - she uses spells - fireballs, homing missiles and sun flares - to start with you think she is going to get her butt kicked, but in fact playing as her is far too easy - just keep tapping X, and there is no need for stakes. You can't help thinking that there is no need at all for Buffy. Fans of the TV series will know that Willow is probably the most powerful of the gang, but there are limits in the series to her magic usage, usually she has to be protected whilst she conjures up her spell. There is none of that here. Then we have Xander - he fights without magic, and being a mortal man he shouldn't be as strong or quick as Buffy or Spike, but there seems to be no real difference - he actually pulls off a couple of better moves than Buffy at some points! All of this detracts from the game, and what could have been an interesting addition actually makes it worse. The same points are also true for the other characters you get to play. They add nothing other than a little visual variety to the game. Also you don't actually get to choose which character to play as, the game is designed as an episode of the TV series and you play the character for that level.
The graphics for the game are pretty much what we have come to expect from the majority of PS2 releases and very much epitomize a multi-format release. Even allowing for the PS2's lower resolution it does not look as good as the first Buffy game that was released on the Xbox last year - everything moves rather nicely and there aren't too many of the usual glitches that plague the third person genre. However the camera suffers from the problem that many games of this style suffer from - you swing it around with the right stick, but as is often the case the camera gets stuck and blocked by walls - not too much of a problem in the outdoor set levels, but as many of them are set inside and in smaller rooms it soon becomes annoying. For a game billed as a "missing" TV programme the cinematics in the game also leave a lot to be desired, the dialogue is good but let down by rather static characters.
As mentioned the controls are simple to manage and it's very easy to pull off combo moves, but there are problems with these combos. Many a time I have found myself fighting a Zombie type baddie - each kick and punch slowly damages him before he bursts into nothingness, but your character continues with the punching and kicking across the screen, usually whilst being attacked and damaged by enemies who are behind or to the side of you, and for a few seconds as this unnecessary and unwanted combo animation completes itself you are powerless to attack. Even allowing for a wide target audience Buffy: Chaos Bleeds is also very easy - as yet I have not been killed in the game and it seems that each character you play as can take the same amount of damage (and that means that it's quite difficult to actually die). There are LOADS of medpacks scattered around each level but they never seem to be needed, as for pretty much every other bad guy you kill gives you a boost in health and there are plenty of easy-to-kill baddies on each level.
The sound of the game is not bad. It has the proper music at the beginning and in game music seems to be lifted from Aliens - all rather nice. Each character is fully voiced and with the exception of Buffy and Willow the actors themselves provide those voices. This does provide a great atmosphere to the game and will make a lot of fans very happy. The voice of Buffy is provided by some "unknown" but you would be hard pushed to tell. Willow on the other hand sounds nothing like her.
As with many games these days, Chaos Bleeds rewards good play with a large amount of unlockable extras. These range from extra characters to play as in multiplayer games to video clips and interviews with the stars of the show. Whilst many fans will probably have heard the answers to the questions in the interviews they do seem to be up to date and well presented. A nice little extra and it does give you some incentive for replay.
As fun as the fighting can be this is not a great game. I think that even fans of the show would soon get tired of it (I did). There are other games out there that do what this does better; one ironic thing is that the first Buffy game is one of them. The XBox Buffy seemed to play much more smoothly and faster, had 5.1 sounds and did not have so many combat glitches and iffy collision detections. This may be worth a rent for fans, but Xbox owners would be better picking the old game up on budget.
- It's BUFFY! (But it's not just Buffy).
- Ease of combat moves.
- Some of the dialogue.
- It's not just Buffy.
- Poor use of the new playable characters.
- Some annoying camera glitches.