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Critical Reception: Microsoft's/Artoon's Vampire Rain

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Vampire Rain, a Japanese-developed Xbox 360 stealth action title that critics warn is "likely to push even the most pathologically forgiving gamer to psychotic rage."

Danny Cowan, Blogger

July 11, 2007

4 Min Read

This week's edition of the regular Critical Reception column examines online reaction to Vampire Rain, a Japanese-developed Xbox 360 stealth action title that critics warn is "likely to push even the most pathologically forgiving gamer to psychotic rage." Developed by Artoon -- the development team famous for the Blinx series on the original Xbox, as well as the recent Nintendo DS hit Yoshi's Island DS -- Vampire Rain earned curious glances from importers upon its initial Japanese release earlier this year. The Xbox 360 is not particularly known for its Japanese-developed titles, and given Artoon's recent involvement with the well-received Xbox 360 RPG Blue Dragon, many had high hopes for Vampire Rain. Unfortunately, Metacritic reports that Vampire Rain has thus far averaged a review score of 48 out of 100 from largely disappointed critics. Dale Nardozzi at Team Xbox scores Vampire Rain at 5 out of 10. "Even though the story is quite interesting in areas Vampire Rain fails to fire on all cylinders due to some gameplay abnormalities and a general lack of polish and presentation," he writes. "Sadly, Vampire Rain leaves a lot to be desired for a full-priced Xbox 360 title." Despite its strengths in storyline, Nardozzi claims that Vampire Rain falls short in terms of gameplay. "Vampire Rain is more stealth than anything," he explains. "This would be okay if Vampire Rain was a really good stealth game, but it’s rather basic and bland." "You’ll mainly be climbing stuff and waiting, waiting and waiting," he continues. "This works well in a game of Splinter Cell’s caliber, but not here." Nardozzi also cites the mostly useless weapons as being among Vampire Rain's more annoying features. "Vampire Rain [...] feels too generic to be worth sixty bucks in 2007," he concludes. "If you want sneak and scary at the same time, pick up The Darkness and an old Splinter Cell title, as Vampire Rain illustrates clearly that it’s hard to be both at once." 1UP's James Mielke is less kind in his 3.5-out-of-10 review. "What do you get when you combine the survival horror-style action of the bad Resident Evil games with the stealthy snooping/sneaking around-style action of the bad snooping/sneaking action games like Spy Fiction and WinBack: Project Poseidon?" he asks. "Answer: You get Vampire Rain." Mielke feels that Vampire Rain's focus on stealth rather than action feels limiting, and is poorly implemented. "Confronting vampires head-on -- at least initially -- is the worst thing you can do," he criticizes. "Instead, you're forced to create diversions, [...] allowing you the precious time necessary to sneak by." "Or does it? Actually, most of the time you'll end up being detected anyway." Mielke notes. "Two hits later, you're dead. To Artoon, this obviously equals crazy fun, but to the average gamer it means a serious waste of 60 bucks." "You'd think [Artoon would] have the foresight and skills necessary to avoid cranking out a bomb like this," says Mielke. "When the world has so many better games to offer, you have to ask yourself 'Why play this?'" Kristan Reed feels similarly, and rates Vampire Rain at a low 3 out of 10. "There are moments when you're playing Vampire Rain when you can squint and convince yourself that this is definitely a Good Game and - once you know The Rules - worth all the pain," he writes. "I can quite imagine this game building up a vociferous audience keen to evangelise its hidden charms." However: "Vampire Rain has so many moments of soul-crushingly bad design, it's likely to push even the most pathologically forgiving gamer to psychotic rage." Difficulty is one of Vampire Rain's biggest problem areas, according to Reed. "For the first few hours, the odds are 100 per cent against you. No amount of shooting [enemies] with your pistol or machinegun will help," Reed says. "So useless are your main default guns, it's pointlessly misleading to even give them to the player." Reed details a particularly frustrating sequence that gamers may find themselves repeating frequently: "After an ungodly number of repeat failures, the unsympathetic check-pointing might start to chip away at your resolve at the 22nd time of having to climb up a platform, shimmy across a ledge, watch two cut-scenes, jump across a roof, ascend some stairs, run across a roof and climb down a pipe to get to that point where the two psychic Nightwalkers are patrolling." In all, Reed notes disappointment in spite of Vampire Rain's promise. "By making elementary parts of the game disproportionately difficult, you'll quickly lose any goodwill you might have had for the game, and most likely give up on about level three," he estimates. "Like many of Artoon's games down the years. Vampire Rain had the potential to be something special, but ended up crippled by some hugely questionable design errors." Though new releases in the United States and Europe have been slim in recent weeks, most reviewers advise that Vampire Rain should be avoided, or at least be given a cautionary rental rather than a purchase. It may have its strong points, but critical opinion blames poor design decisions and extreme difficulty for Vampire Rain's failures.

About the Author(s)

Danny Cowan


Danny Cowan is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for Gamasutra and its subsites. Previously, he has written reviews and feature articles for gaming publications including 1UP.com, GamePro, and Hardcore Gamer Magazine.

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