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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds (Xbox)
Publisher:  Vivendi Universal Games Developer:  Eurocom
Genre:  Action Release Date:  08/26/2003
ESRB:  Teen More Info on this Game
By Steve Steinberg | Oct. 2, 2003
Buffy's back in this solid sequel to last year's surprise hit -- and this time she's brought some friends.
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Pros Cons
Great fighting action; improved inventory system; super use of a license. Some of the characters aren't as cool as others; multiplay is a bit lame.

Buffy has bucked more trends than she has slain vampires. First, the show becomes the rare TV hit spawned by a movie (and a lousy movie, at that). Second, last year's Xbox game was the ultra-rare, license-themed release that wasn't just out to make a fast buck. The Collective handled the development duties last time around and did a bang up job. For Vivendi Universal's Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds, it was Eurocom's job -- and it had the added pressure of developing the game for all three platforms. Buffy fans and Xboxers have one more reason to smile. Not only is Chaos Bleeds a worthy follow-up to last year's slay-a-thon, but the Xbox version is the one you'll want to be doing your slaying with.

Almost everything about the game is been upgraded. The camera is better and the controls are more logically laid out. Maybe coolest, though, is that you're no longer forced to do all your vamp-hunting as Buffy. Chaos Bleeds also lets you wield the stake as the slayer's cohorts: Willow, Xander, Spike, Faith, and Sid the Dummy.

The game is set during the fifth season of the show and throws you and the gang into twelve levels of ghouls, in which you'll make your way through graveyards, spook-filled churches, and take on such faves as Kakistos and the universe's oldest living bad guy, The First. You'll also dust about a million other various night creatures. There's no shortage of enemies in Chaos Bleeds, and thanks to the game's fighting engine, you won't really mind.

At first glance, fighting may seem like mindless button-mashing, but as you learn the different character's abilities, you'll start to realize that certain situations call for specific moves. Spinning moves, for example, aren't just there for their looks; they can take out multiple enemies in a single blow. As Willow, you'll have to master a host of equally effective spells to cast. And as Xander, you'll really have to kick up your gameplay. His kicks and punches don't carry the same oomph as Buffy's, and his favorite weapon -- the crossbow -- can be a real patience tester to get the hang of.

Helping you keep track of all your moves, spells, and just about everything else you pick up is the game, is a much improved inventory system. In the original game, accessing your weapons, health boosts, and such could be a real pain. Here, your inventory is controlled with the directional pad and can be accessed on the fly -- without ever having to leave the gameplay screen. Also nice is the auto-stake feature. As long as you have a pointy stick in your arsenal, you're just a black button tap away from plunging it into some undead foe's chest.


Spike does the "disappearing knife trick."
The game offers four different multiplay modes -- something that was sorely missing from the first Buffy. While most of them are tweaks on the "kill more stuff than the other guy" theme, a mini-game called domination plays out more like video sumo, with Buffy and crew all fighting to knock each other out of a pentagram. The multiplay is good for short-term fun (heck, what's cooler than Willow kicking the tar out of Xander?), but it's nothing spectacular. I would have traded it all in for a couple of two-, three-, or four-person co-op missions.

The look of the game is also solid. Creepy catacomb textures and eerie lighting effects crank up the spooky mood of the game. Character models are also solid, with Buffy and crew actually looking a lot like their TV counterparts.

While a midnight trek through a haunted cemetery may be scary, nothing terrifies a game reviewer like the prospect of having to spend quality time with a game based on a popular license. Happily, for me -- and I guess for you, as well -- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds is far more than just your typical license-themed ripoff.



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Reviewer System Specifications
Xbox, Standard Controller

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