Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds
Game Info
PS2, GC, Xbox
Vivendi Universal
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Gore, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
The Good

• Faithful to the series
• Lots of unlockables
• Interesting story

The Bad

• Pacing of dialogue
• Shoddy camera
• Level layout


BTVS: Chaos Bleeds is the follow up to the successful Buffy game on the Xbox from a year or so back. In the hands of a different company and across multiple platforms, does Buffy meet the same success? Well, yes and no. Now, I never played the first game, and I haven't played this game for the other consoles, but I'm a big Buffy fan, and I do play these kinds of games…and I was a little disappointed. Every other review I've read of this game is fairly glowing, but I had some problems with it.

Let's talk story. This plays as a lost episode from season five of the show. Buffy is in charge, her Watcher, Giles, is more of an advisory figure who focuses on running his magic shop. Her friend Willow has become a pretty powerful witch, while her other friend Xander makes out as best he can with his sense of humor. Then there's Spike, a vampire who has a microchip in his head that prevents him from hurting people, so he takes it out on demons and vamps. You'll meet Faith, a Slayer with a darker attitude than Buffy who took things a little too far into the dark, and has been serving prison time until recently. And there's Sid the Dummy, a ventriloquist's dummy who fights evil. He was in an episode of season one, and now he's back from retirement to help you out. These are your playable cast (except Giles), each with their own moves and specialties (except for Faith, who unfortunately doesn't deviate from Buffy in the slightest). The story of the game manages to combine villains from several seasons including Kakistos, Ethan Rayne, and The First among others in a complicated plot involving magic and alternate realities to set up levels and bosses in perfect video game fashion, combining all the fan-favorites from the show to make the ultimate gaming experience. Unfortunately it doesn't quite live up to that.

Graphics: Nothing to write home about. Character models range from pretty accurate (Willow) to stunningly ugly (Spike). Environments are generally well detailed, lots of books, rubble, etc. but not well-textured or hi-res. The overall graphics are a little on the blocky and bland side. Nice particle effects for some of the magic effects, though.

Sound: This game has a lot of voice-over. Much of the cast from the show contributed to the game, and they were well used, providing not just dialogue for the story scenes but also witticisms during the fighting and running around (which the series is known for). I must note that it's not really their best work, though. The dialogue tends to fall a little flat, and the pacing is HORRIBLE! In the show, there's witty banter, here there are three to five second gaps between each character's dialogues. It completely sucks the wind out of the sails. Frankly, despite the clever writing, some of the story sequences are a chore to sit through. Additionally, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Allison Hannigan are notably missing. Their voice doubles do a decent job at times, and a painful one at other times. The sound effects of the game are decent, nothing very cool, nothing notably missing. The music is quite good. The show always had great music, very moody. There's lots of creepiness and moodiness in this game, and it's accentuated very well by the music…modern classical, quiet when you're creeping, swelling up when you're fighting for your life. Good stuff.

Gameplay: Two parts action, one part exploration. I feel like they threw in twice as many bad guys as needed in order to extend the play time of the game. I mean, if there are really this many vamps with a deathwish in any one section of town, Buff's not doing her job very well. On that note, however, the combat is pretty entertaining. You play as Buffy (or Faith) the majority of the time, and she has an exhaustive move set. I mean, she could be a Tekken character. Add a large variety of weapons into the mix, and the occasional playable character shake-up for variety, and were talking hours of fun. You'll also find items such as upturned tables, benches and the like that you can throw vamps on to impale them, (true to the show) but I find this a little difficult to pull off, and not worth the effort. The main problem with combat (and the game) is the camera. The levels frequently have enclosed spaces, and the camera will not accommodate this. Now, you can move the camera with the right thumbstick, but don't let this deceive you into thinking you have any real control over it. I frequently found myself fighting with the camera. Example: you're getting swarmed by bad guys, you back up to a wall to force them to come at you clumped together, this forces the camera to turn and focus on you, you find yourself punching air and getting hit from out of view, you struggle to the middle of the room, fight to turn the camera back around, and find you're now surrounded on all sides and almost dead. Common problem. On the exploration side, there aren't a lot of puzzles to solve, and they're fairly amusing and practical as opposed to repetitively finding levers to pull. You may have some trouble with the layout, as the levels aren't very conducive to moving you in a direction; you just kind of wander around until you figure out where you're supposed to go. Lots of places look like you should be able to jump or climb to them, but you can't, and then the "secrets" you find in a level are frequently painfully obvious. On the multiplayer side, there are various games playable by up to four people using characters you've unlocked from the main game. The games are pretty inventive, ranging from survival to controlling an area to catching the most bunnies to playing slayer vs. monsters. The multiplayer levels however are small and cluttered, and the characters are woefully imbalanced. Overall, this is a nice touch, but not something you'll be playing for hours with friends.

Final Verdict: Kind of a Catch 22. Fans of action games will appreciate this game, but may notice some of the pitfalls I've outlined, particularly the camera. They should be drawn in by the story, which is considerably deeper than most for this type of game, but won't fully appreciate it without investment in the show. This game goes out of its way to appeal to fans of the show, who should love the story, and will really appreciate the unlockable interviews with the cast and crew. They may not notice the problems with the game design, but will surely notice the game is missing the rapid-fire pacing of the show in both its action and story segments. So either way, players will be a little disappointed. Not to say it's not a fun game, just that you might want to rent it first.

- - Jeff Light

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