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've never really been into this show. It's a little too girly for me, but on those odd occasions when I happen to flip by, I'll stop and enjoy things for a few minutes. The game, however, is a treatise on how to make a high-octane button masher with enough plot to keep things interesting from mission to mission. I have a very small knowledge base about the Buffy universe, but that didn't hinder me from enjoying myself in the least.

The biggest and most attractive part of this game is the excellent combat system. Although there is a way to get through a bunch of the missions by simply flailing your fingers on the button pad, it will take a long time to do; and more importantly, it won't be much fun. Through a number of button-combos, Buffy comes to life with flying kicks, twirling punches, and impressive throws. Along with the kick/punch combo of the regular sort, the Collective has given players more oomph in the form of Slayer Power; which the Buff-ster uses to perform more intricate and deadly combos on her supernatural adversaries. With the correct timing, what was once just a one-two punch becomes a bone-rattling juggernaut of a thrust which, if landed, will send your adversary careening into the distance.

Okay, so attacking people (or things that used to be people) is fun, but your blocking abilities are lackluster. You'll find that a lot of your attacks are blocked, but when it comes time to go on the defensive, Buffy is at a serious disadvantage. Sometimes using the targeting button will help fend off a few blows, but other than that, you're better off going all-out with a healthy combo than trying to play the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon punch/block game. Another notable gameplay element is the difficulty throughout the levels. Typically, games will start out easy, then become more and more challenging as the story progresses. The opposite is the case with this title – when you start, you're going to have your hands full. I played on Normal difficulty, but if you're prone to temper tantrums, you may want to think about swallowing your pride and starting on Easy.

Let's not lose sight of the fact that this is the best brawler released for the Xbox so far. It's got a great storyline, a mountain of voice talent from the cast of the TV show, and it's just plain awesome to kick the head off a zombie and watch it thrash away on the floor. I can't recommend this title enough for any Xbox owner who has a hankerin' for some good old-fashioned butt-whoopin'. Lord knows, this console needs a shot in the arm with some solid third-party titles. Well, here it is. Be the cool kid and buy it before your nerdy neighbor does.  

Many people underestimated the Buffy TV show at first, then became captivated by its humor, characters, and action. I think the video game adaptation mirrors this pattern. I expected a run-of-the-mill beat-em-up, but got something much more charismatic. It's obvious the show's writers had a hand in the game dialogue, and the cast is all here, lending their voices and sweet character models (though I wish Willow looked more like her real, hottie self). Another thing that is easily underestimated is Buffy's frustration factor. Having to stake your adversaries adds a whole new strategy element, but also ups the difficulty. Whenever two ghouls are attacking at once, you're in for a world of hurt. I can see many casual gamers who love the show giving up prematurely, due to Buffy being a toughie. It is, however, a great pick for brawler fans and more determined gamers.
A beat-em-up with lots of attitude and a great combat system
The texturing is nice, but the character models are particularly impressive
Buff-ites will be thrilled with the number of stars from the show who've put down tracks for the game
Easy as pushing buttons repeatedly
Even if you've never watched the show, this is an awesome game
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