Apr 30, 2001

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Countdown Vampires
Reviewed by
Suzanne Ashe

Currently no media available

Our Score:
3/10


 

T he time is now, or perhaps sometime in the near future, and you – Detective Keith Snyder - are attending the grand opening party of a new casino hotel called the Desert Moon. Just as the party swings into high gear something, or someone, sets off the fire alarm and sprinkler system. This triggers a series of events so you have to act quickly.

First, the sprinklers spew out thick, black nasty stuff, which turns all the party animals into vampire zombies. It’s rather like that beginning scene of Blade combined with the climax of From Dusk ‘til Dawn, only not as creepy.

A clock pops up and the first thing you have to do is escape the club before it automatically locks down. You have three minutes to do this. I did it in about a minute and a half. The next thing you have to do is defend yourself against the nasty-assed vampires. These are stubborn bastards, just when you think they are dead and you head into another room of the casino or down a hallway, they come back to life (they are the living dead, duh?) and come and bite you. I found the best course of action is to just run.

Although the game is supposed to be frightening, chilling, demonic and terrifying I found it was just too dark and I had to bump up the “brightness” level on my TV. It was a bit like telling ghost stories with the lights on instead of just a flashlight under your chin, but it prevented me from bumping into tables, chairs and the occasional corpse.

The game has the same – I mean exactly the same – controls as Resident Evil. This is probably the creepiest part of the game. I felt as if I had been transported back in time to 1996 and I was playing RE on my Sega Saturn (yeeesssh. I just gave myself chills). Anyway, RE was groundbreaking, but that was then and this is now and lets not go there. Okay?

While the set – aspirations of MGM Grand Hotel meets the Haunted House ride at Disneyland – is a great concept, much of the walls are muddy and grey. To the game’s defense however, the roulette, craps and card tables are detailed, realistic and pretty cool.

During the game you have to search for keys, clues, and solve puzzles; in the meantime dozens of vampire/people come hunting for your blood. The biggest gripe I have about the game, and this would’ve been the easiest thing to fix because this isn’t 1996, is the unpredictable camera angles. You are headed down an L-shaped hall; just as you get to the turn several of the living dead jump you and suck you dry. You didn’t even see it coming. If you could maneuver the camera angles you would at least have a biting, I mean fighting, chance.

The other big problem is that to “do” anything you have to hit the X button. Okay, this makes sense when you want to open a door or pick up an ammo clip. This does not make sense when you want to simply ascend a set of stairs.

Another gripe. Health. Okay, the game does take place in a casino and I wouldn’t expect the latest in vegan cuisine served up on silver platters, but the lengths you have to go through for a simple snack is in the same vein as “Survivor” island. You are injured, dragging your wounded leg behind you or some such thing. You check your inventory, no first aid kit, no snacks, but you do have a few J points. With these points you can play the slot machine, with your earnings from the slot machine you can buy food from, get this, a vending machine. I think preparing and barbecuing rats would have made more sense. At least you can find bottled water lying around – thank god for ravers.

Now, when you are back up to health you go back into battle. This is where the game takes on an annoying twist. The people who have “turned” into vampires must be “saved,” not killed. To do this you have to shoot them with an anesthetic gun. Once they are asleep you need to sprinkle them (stay with me, I know you are snickering about the baptism connotations here) with a special white water. This is trickier than it sounds. Because before you can save any of them, you have to have something to save them with – the holy, I mean white, water. If you think the white water is going to be lying around like manna go back and read the instructions on how easy it was to get lunch.

Other B-movie moments, such as the synthesized strings for an orchestra denoting impending danger, don’t work because the music does not change dynamically to fit the action on screen. Also, the grunts and growls of the various baddies aren’t hellish enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck.

In all, the 2-CD game may keep or capture attention for a while, but it won’t get your heart pumping. I was unimpressed with so much of the game I wandered off to play Sword of the Berserk on the Dreamcast.

Suzanne Ashe

 
 

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