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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds (GCN)
Publisher:  Vivendi Games Developer:  Eurocom
Genre:  Third-Person Action Release Date:  08/26/2003
ESRB:  Teen More Info on this Game
By Steve Steinberg | Oct. 2, 2003
Buffy and friends make their GameCube debut in this solid follow-up to last year's Xbox-only vamp-hunt, and the result should please more than just fans of the show.
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Pros Cons
Great fighting and inventory system; super use of a license. No ability to auto-center camera; multiplay is a bit lame.

Forget Mario Sunshine. It's time to check out the dark side. Finally, GameCube owners can go at night and stalk the undead in Vivendi Universal's Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds. Developer Eurocom has upped the gameplay in this sequel to last year's surprisingly good Xbox-only Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the result is another ghoulishly fun creepfest.

Unlike the first game where you did all your vamp-hunting as Buffy, Chaos Bleeds lets you also 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 come face-to-face with a million other various night creatures. And, thanks to the game's cool fighting engine, you won't mind all the competition.

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.

Eurocom did a great job of integrating the inventory system into the game. All of your weapons and supplies can be accessed on the fly using the directional pad, so you never have to leave the game screen -- a huge improvement over the first game. Also cool is that the game's auto-stake feature -- where you can pull out a stake and off a vamp with a single button -- is activated with the Z button. Being able to do this life saver of a move with a trigger finger is great. On the Xbox, this highly used feature is attached to the less-than-convenient black button. Where the 'Cube's controller comes up short is that there just isn't any room for an auto-center feature that'll let you re-fix the camera in back of your character. In a game where threats come from all sides, control of the camera is vital.

Does my shoe taste funny?
The look of Chaos Bleeds on the purple box is just as impressive as it is on the Xbox. 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.

On the multiplay front, Chaos Bleeds has four mini-games to play at your next vamp-hunting party. While most of them are tweaks on the "kill more stuff than the other guy" theme, domination -- the coolest of the bunch -- 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.

Putting it mildly -- and keeping the vampire theme alive -- most games based on popular licenses bite and suck. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds is the exception. Not just a way to make a quick buck off of diehard Buffy fans, it's a game that is as deep and fun to play as anything else on the system.

Reviewer System Specifications
GameCube, Memory Card, Standard Controller.