Published by Microsoft and Developed by Artoon, the Xbox 360 exclusive Vampire Rain pits you, the leader of a small squad of commandos, against a legion of urban vampire changelings. Get ready for terror! More like get ready for a terror-ible game.
The premise of Vampire Rain is a sort of stealth/horror hybrid. Owing less to the ultra popular and ever-evolving Resident Evil series than to Splinter Cell and its many sequels, for a survival horror/stealth hybrid, Vampire Rain has a long way to go to achieve the sort of wild success that either of those franchises has secured. Vampire Rain lacks the morbid sense of humor and the sandbox environment of a game like Dead Rising or the blind-corner thrill and constant action of Gears of War - two superior third-person action games available on the 360.
The problem with Vampire Rain - and most games in the so-called survival horror genre in general - is the perception that you can just throw monsters in a game, make it marginally scary, give the main character guns and people should want to play it. If anything, these are only the very basic elements to creating a next-gen survival horror game with any sort of lasting impact. Each progressive title should incorporate and exploit subtle or blatant differences, such as - I don’t know - story, design and basic game play elements. When one throws a title like Vampire Rain in the 360, one isn’t looking for something similar to a pre-existing, more successful and original title. One is looking for a new experience, worthy of the hefty price laid down in order to purchase said game ($59.99 suggested retail price.)
As John Lloyd, you and your Anti-Nightwalker Mission team are dropped into a rain-soaked urban cityscape absolutely riddled with Nightwalkers. It is your task to run around with your team, completing certain tasks, avoiding and/or eliminating the Nightwalkers as you go. You find yourself climbing ladders, shimmying along ledges, hiding behind cars, etc., all to avoid the wrath of the deadly Nightwalkers. And they are deadly. The problem is, the Nightwalkers are extremely strong, and if they attack you, then you’re dead. No chance of survival. You are dead. The transformation from citizen to Nightwalker is as instantaneous and anti-climactic as your death. I don’t understand the appeal of a game where the object is to avoid combat entirely, lest your participation of said game be cut prematurely short due to your characters untimely demise. After all, this is an “action” game. Additionally, for all their strength, the Nightwalker A.I. isn’t all that stunning, either. The human-form Nightwalkers grunt a warning that they have detected you, but will often times stand there staring at you instead of charging and engaging you. Most of the time, if you are in shadows and are standing still, they continue on whatever pattern they have been programmed with and you can carry on. Other times, you will round a blind corner and be instantly attacked. If it weren’t so maddening, it might be kind of fun. But, sadly, it isn’t.