It's been awhile since we've seen BloodRayne. A half-vampire vampire hunter, the titular Rayne was mostly known for being a hyper-sexualised female lead in a mainstream, "hardcore" videogame. The final nail in her coffin was Uwe Boll turning her exploits into what is largely considered a series of cinematic travesties. While her existence seemed doomed to a "Where Are They Now?" special, WayForward Technologies (A Boy and His Blob, Batman: The Brave and the Bold) has seen fit to resurrect her in a brilliant but flawed modernization of this once laughable saga.
First and foremost, Rayne has changed. Her low-cut dress and blade heels are ridiculous, but it's certainly less revealing than her former "crotch corset" garb. And while her design is sexy, her animations are savage. Feasting on monstrous insects and rotting ghouls is anything but flattering, and her brutal behaviour is exemplified by guttural grunts instead of pornographic moans. She's a feral creature that's a far cry away from the ludicrously sexualized Rayne of yesteryear.
This is not to suggest that this is a darker, more serious rendition of the series. If anything, it's a sillier portrayal, acknowledging its stupidity at every turn. After a one sentence prologue you're thrust from heavens in your "rocket coffin" and told to dismember poncy lads in ascot ties with nary an explanation. Clearly the designers are having fun with the license.
They're not the only ones, as BloodRayne: Betrayal hosts one of the more unique combat systems out there. While her slashes, jumps, and somersaults are commonplace for the genre, her vampiric nature is deliciously exploited. At any time she can grab an enemy and replenish some health by sucking them dry. Furthermore, she can nip a foe once to infect them, then blow them up them at the touch of a button. Detonating multiple enemies at once in a screen-filling shower of entrails remains one of life's simple pleasures.
Unfortunately, Rayne's uncivilized baddassery manifests itself as clumsy controls. Knockdowns take too long to recover from, and bewilderingly you're still vulnerable when you're down. It's not unusual for one ill-placed hit to start a Rube Goldberg-esque sequence of punishment.
This happens too often due to the backgrounds being difficult to decipher. The art direction is beautiful, but certain hazards are hard to see and the screen can get too cluttered. This is especially egregious during a handful of battles portrayed as silhouettes.
Elsewhere, Betrayal's combat can grow a little long in the fang. Eviscerating the undead starts off a blast, but there's little enemy variety. Aside from one new gun acquired midway through, the combat fails to evolve in any significant way.
BloodRayne: Betrayal is a lot like how I'd imagine being a vampire would be. Initially my newfound powers would be awesome and invigorating. Eventually though, immortality would inevitably lead to weariness. Thankfully, Rayne's six hour jaunt requires less commitment than a vampire's unholy contract, and while it may not be a life-changing event, its seductive pull is worth having a taste of.