Developer: Nival Interactive
Released: September 2002
Capabilities: Memory Unit
Review Written: March 23, 2003
I’m not the biggest fan of games based on movies. Most of them end up being
awfully poor, no matter which gaming era it happened in. This goes in effect for
E.T. on the Atari 2600 to Home Alone on the NES and all the way to recent
releases such as The Scorpion King and Minority Report. There have been a few
standouts here and there such as Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and Enter
the Matrix looks quite promising as well. But for the most part, these games do
not leave any lasting impressions, and Blade II continues the tradition with a
game so loosely based on the movie it not even funny. It sticks to the well
known formula where you slap a licensed based character into a haphazard 3D
action platform game and hope it sells.
If you saw the movie, you are probably thinking this is exactly what the game is based on. That is not exactly the case, only a few elements from the actual movie are thrown in the storyline, and the rest is the geriatric action we’ve seen in past movie-based games. Activision managed to get the rights to use the likeness of Wesley Snipes in the game, so he is in here, all decked out with his slick trench coat and sword. In the actual game, you are going after a new race of vampires whose only weakness is sunlight. Blade’s buddy Whistler makes all his weapons and will chime in to give you advice here and there. A few weapons from the movie make their debut in here such as the sunlight-generating UV grenade.
A quick tutorial level with Whistler will get you familiarized with the controls right off the bat. Blade II uses a new approach of punching, where wiggling the right analog stick in a different direction accomplishes this feat. Blade can also jump, but does this weird flip in the air that seems to take forever to pull off, and it does not help that you have no control over the jump whatsoever. Blade’s movement is screwed up too. Both moving and turning is done with the left analog stick, but in a fashion so horrible it makes free 3D movement seem impossible. There is also a strafe function, but strafing is performed so slow that it is deemed useless. At least the guns aren’t so hard to use, little target reticules lock on to enemies and a few rounds of lead….errrr silver in them will get the job done.
Most of these movie-based games usually have a gimmick attached to them. Minority Report had the jet-pack missions, Spider-Man had his trademark web slinging, and Blade II has the rage ability. As you vanquish the vampires a little “rage” meter will fill up, and once it is topped off you’ll have access to use Blade’s sword for a limited amount of time. This usually results in one-hit kills and some pretty sweet looking death sequences where Blade will take a short pause before stabbing a victim in the chest. But after seeing it for the fourth time or so the cut scenes get repetitive fairly fast. The other couple of weapons available are the glaive which is the equivalent of Zelda’s boomerang, and the aforementioned UV Grenade which will exterminate the vampires with a single flash of light.
The game play is really straightforward, where you’ll spend most of your time getting from one point to another as your level goals. The developers at Mucky Foot Productions idea of level variation are throwing a couple of switches in the way to unlock doors, or blowing up an oil canister to blast into hidden rooms cluttered with power-ups. It would’ve been more challenging to find the hidden rooms if the cut scenes in the levels wouldn’t of blatantly centered the oil barrels to blow up for you. Also, the computer AI is so poor that your seven year old little brother can breeze through the game. Enemies would just stand there waiting for me to walk up to them before they attack. It’s like I am playing Metal Gear Solid and I’m hiding behind a wall, but the wall is not there. It is simply inexcusable.
The graphics are just as mediocre as the game play. Sharp laser shows in the dance club, and a cool blur effect when going into rage mode are the only highlights of the visuals. I take that back, I like the exaggerated gore too, especially after Blade beheads a vamp with his sword. The character models are decent. Obviously, Blade’s model is where all the effort went into. It’s a great representation of Blade, but he and the rest of the cast have some stiff animations that ruin the effort put into the character models. The same can be said about the level design. While quite polished, they are a couple generations behind the competition.
The soundtrack for the movie of Blade II had some kicking tunes from the likes of Busta Rhymes, Redman, and the Gorillaz, but Activision didn’t want to shell out the licensing dollars to have them in the game. It is completely understandable, but they could’ve at least upped the quality of the lackluster techno beats that make up most of the background music. The hired voice talent to portray Wesley Snipes and whoever played Whistler are some damn good imposters. Blade delivers a taunt whenever he executes one of those death blows, but his words of wisdom will grow tired on you after hearing them several times in each and every level. The vampires will also shout out a few lines whenever you run across their paths, but just like Blade they get all too annoying all too fast.
There aren’t any noteworthy extras in Blade II. Aside from the theatrical trailer and a sharp credits sequence, there aren’t any of the usual staples of extras you’d be led to believe are in here. No multi player, no extra game modes, notta. Blade II only takes several hours to complete and the sporadic hidden rooms aren’t enough reason to justify another play through. This would’ve been the perfect kind of game for the DVD extras that have been popular in games of late. If the developers could have spruced up some “making of” documentaries or interviews with the actors, fans could have been easily satisfied.
Game play: 5.5
Replay Value: 2.9
Blade II ended up being just what I expected it to be. The game play leaves a lot to be desired, and the total lack of extras and short game play time makes matters worse. At best, only hardcore fans of the movie would want to buy this, and for everyone else it might be a good weekend rental. Avoid this like most other movie-based games and hold out for Enter the Matrix instead.
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