Into every generation a slayer is born to combat the vampires, demons, and monsters that plague mankind. After six seasons on television, the slayer is finally born on the Xbox, and overall, the watchers will be pleased.
The story of Buffy is really too complex to get into here, but basically, one high school girl is The Chosen One, given the power and strength to fight vampires and demons. Buffy is, essentially, a one-girl army, the last line of defense against the demons who want to build a bridge between Hell and Earth. For Buffy aficionados, the game takes place sometime within the third season, and its story line is supposed to be that of a “lost" episode.
Buffyphiles will be pleased; Willow, Cordelia, Giles, Spike, Xander, and Angel are all voiced by the actual actors from the show, and the actress voicing Buffy does a fantastic Sarah Michelle Gellar impression. The voices and music lend an incredible air of authenticity to the game, though the voice samples during combat definitely get repetitive as the game goes on.
As an action game, Buffy mixes a brilliant fighting system and a sharp graphical look with a derivative platform/exploration design. Fights range from annoying to spectacular, but the simple platform elements only get in the way, thanks to the awkward jumping and camera controls. Dealbreakers abound; when Buffy dies, you have to start back at the last checkpoint, and for some reason, Buffy dies if she touches water, so you might end up replaying an entire level five or six times before you make it across a single broken bridge. The character design and animation look great, but they lack the polish you’d expect from an Xbox title this far after the system’s launch.
The game does venture into brilliance from time to time. The battle system, while being far from complex, is much deeper than those featured in similar games like Soul Reaver and Blood Omen. You have a number of special moves at your disposal, and you can interact with the environment to make your enemies dead. Toss a vampire onto a spiky fence, and you just might stake them for a one-shot kill. You can lure them into beams of sunlight, lead them into their allies’ lines of fire, and break tables and crates to create impromptu stakes. Mops, brooms, and rakes become powerful weapons, and as they break they become spears first, then stakes, before they finally degenerate into splinters. Most of the time, however, you’ll just be using your fists and some good-ol’ Buffy-style ass-kickin’.
Fans of the Buffy TV show will be pleased with the chance to play in the Buffy universe, but others will find an engaging fighting system wrapped in the trappings of the platform genre.