Vampire Rain: Altered Species Review
Player(s): 1 (up to 8 online)
Memory: 3801MB (game installation)
HD input support: 480p, 720p
Vampire Rain is a horror stealth title that places you in the role of John Lloyd, MGS 1 Solid Snake lookalike and member of a special combat unit known as the Nightwalker Elimination Squad. Basically the nightwalker (vampire) population is about to take over and, under the cover of rain (because rain clouds a nightwalker's senses), the squad is sent in to a west coast city to wipe out all nightwalkers before they get the upper hand on the human population. If you've been scanning the reviews on gamerankings.com or gamestats.com then you're likely familiar with the bad reviews that the original Vampire Rain received when it was originally released on Xbox 360. The game felt like an overall mediocre stealth title to me, but I found some amusement in Vampire Rain: Altered Species that kept me hooked throughout the game.
The mandatory game install takes about 20 to 30 minutes upon starting up the game for the first time. The gameplay is primarily based on stealth. Many of the sneaking missions are found early in the game but more variety is added with the better guns that your character gets later in the game. The early sneaking missions are limited to staying out of the viewpoint of nightwalkers while you work your way on a linear path. There is some slight exploration in each level but for the most part the game limits your movement through the use of invisible walls. Invisible walls will keep your character confined to a certain area until an objective is fully complete, then you might have to backtrack or proceed forward past the area that was previously off limits.
Nightwalkers are given viewpoint cones on your radar much like Metal Gear Solid once you look at them for a few seconds through the use of "Necrovision". Necrovision allows you to tell the difference between the different types of nightwalker and normal humans based on the glowing color that appears over them while this mode is activated. You'll be constantly switching back and forth between Necrovision and normal view to search for a nightwalker's location. The viewpoints are not always exact - sometimes nightwalkers can see well beyond their normal viewpoint as displayed on the map, so you'll always have to cautiously watch out for the vampire eyes that appear on the screen that signal your character is in their line of vision.
Nightwalkers appears as normal humans and don't immediately attack once you're in their sight, but after you have stayed in their line of vision for too long they will literally vamp-out and toward your character with tremendous aggression that is hard to fight back against. I found the enemy aggression frustrating thanks to the limited firepower and ammo in the earlier levels. Later levels provide the means to fight back a bit better, but earlier stages basically equal death once you've been spotted. The nightwalker darts toward your character then kills him with two slashes and then you're treated to a death sequence of them feeding on your character. Oh, you'll see the death animation quite a bunch until you learn the location of certain nightwalkers in a mission. The constant deaths can be aggravating at first, but I basically got used to them after progressing further through the game. Sometimes even when you do have the ammo to take them down, a nightwalker can still get the best of you because of their sheer speed though.
In order to make it through each level, you'll have to find the perfect path that will to slip by the viewpoints of all the nightwalkers, which usually means finding a nearby pole or ladder and descending a building. Once you realize the correct route to take it is all a matter of working your way to the next checkpoint. One of your squad buddies always contacts you if you happen to go beyond the mission boundaries, which can get annoying when the mission boundary is so very close to the actual destination - in a case such as this, you're just not going the planned route. It's as if the game is telling you, "How dare you explore!"