Into each generation a slayer is born. Buffy found her way to the Xbox way back in 2002 and given her popularity among the gay girl populace, we thought we’d run this retro review! Yes that’s right, it’s your turn to take on the role of slayer and kick some vampire ass.
After numerous rumored releases in the world of consoles it was starting to seem as if Buffy would never find it’s way to any platform, that is until Microsoft stepped in and brought dreams of playing with Buffy to life in an Xbox only outing. Sorry, I mean playing AS Buffy.
Upon loading Buffy you’re given a small introduction to the general ethos of the Buffy universe by Giles (for the uninitiated he’s Buffy’s genteel British ‘Watcher’, or trainer to you and I), then the familiar Buffy theme tune will make any fan of the show smile and is instantly recognizable even if you’re not a fan.
The intro sequence is similar to the opening credits to an episode of Buffy and the graphics and likenesses are spot on. The game characters all bear great resemblance to their real life counterparts and all voices are provided by them except for the lady herself, who is voiced by someone sounding very much like her anyway. In essence, Buffy is a one-player, third person beat-em up (though you have the option of choosing first person) with a few cool range and melee weapons thrown in for good measure. It’s your duty to protect Sunnydale and destroy the evil vampires and demons lurking within. Luckily, you have your friends Giles, Willow, Xander and Cordelia to aid you in this quest.
Graphically speaking, Buffy is impressive, particularly if you’re a fan of the show. The world of Buffy is faithfully represented and the game features some sweetly detailed environments, all with high res textures that are complimented by some good lighting effects. The game can be quite a dark affair since, after all, it revolves around vampires, for whom sunlight is rather deadly. Thankfully the game is only dark on a few levels and it isn’t enough to spoil the game. The character modeling – as previously mentioned – is also spot on, with Willow probably suffering the worst representation of her real life counterpart. Along with this, there’s some nice visual effects that I won’t spoil by listing here, suffice to say it is far better that you see them for yourself and I urge you to do so.
Sound is where this game truly comes into its own. The use of the actual cast members from the show is brilliant and although Buffy herself isn’t voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar, the stand-in’s voice isn’t too damn bad at capturing the same sassy smart ass tones of Gellar as Buffy. The dialogue is as witty as you would expect from a game that so faithfully shadows the show and the accompanying sound effects are also crisp and clever, adding to the overall feel. The music is also a good addition that goes from the downright eerie to thumping rave sounds reminiscent of the movie Blade. These come in at just the right time to really put you on edge. A complaint about the sound, as I don’t want to gloss over the few errors it has, is that those witty one-liners I spoke of, can become repetitive by both Buffy and the evil-doers she fights and when fighting, it is difficult to make out anything that is said as it’s drowned out by the sound of punches and kicks. In saying that, those punches and kicks sound Buffytastic!
Presentation, if you can’t already tell is gorgeous for an Xbox original title and is pretty much covered by the comments I’ve made regarding the sound and graphics, but I’ll add a little. The game is presented in essence like an episode of Buffy and for those who have never seen one, it’s sharp, silly and can actually be quite edgy depending on the storyline. This game covers it all. The comedic wit is there; believable characterization is there, good script and direction is there and overall, the game is presented in a nice shiny package and what’s inside is worth far more than the wrapping.
Game play is a doddle early on, you can pick up this baby and get right into the action without even a whiff of the manual. Movement is fluid and as the analogue control comes into play, it is easy to get your head around. Fighting is a treat as Buffy punches, kicks, stakes, shoots and invariably monster mashes her way through the levels. The addition of ‘Slayer Power’ adds even more to plain melee, by allowing for extra cool attacks and some Matrix style shenanigans. Puzzle sections, exploration and ledge climbing are somewhat akin to the Tomb Raider series.
Well, that’s a whole bunch of positives and next to no negatives, but it’s not perfect, so what’s the score… Simply put, with just a couple of very minor changes, this game would have been one of the coolest released on Xbox, sadly though it falls short. The main problem? End of level saves! The bane of my gaming existence and the purveyor of many a thrown joypad in numerous homes. Along with this factor, and as if placed there to compliment the frustration factor further, on later levels, one foot wrong literally sends you hurtling to your death, which in turn puts you back at the start of the level. The camera can be dodgy at times also, but not enough for me to harp on about. My only other gripe is repetition, be it verbally when those one liners are used again and again, or in actual gameplay as you find yourself misplacing the same jump time and again, having to reload the level and give it another go.
As far as lesbian and female characters go, this is the Buffyverse and it therefore features Willow, but there’s no lesbian shenanigans to be seen. As far as female characters go this game features one of the most kick ass female characters created, so we can’t really complain.
To sum up, games that are based on TV shows and movies have generally been a pretty dire bunch. Buffy changes all that. It’s a TV/movie license that whilst remaining accurate to the show, kicks booty in its own right as one cool game. Fans of the show can’t help but love this title, but with that said, I think it holds a fair bit of magic for the non Buffy fan also. I’ll end by saying I implore you to at least give this game a try, whether you’re a fan of the TV show or not. Or in the words of the in-game Buffy herself: “You think you can take me? Come on, kick my ass!”
U-Haul Review Status:
If you like Buffy and you don’t mind taking a step back to the original Xbox platform, give Buffy the Vampire Slayer a try. It’s also backwards compatible with the Xbox 360.
There can be only one L Word rating for Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Xbox and that is Uta Refson. She was hot, sexy and all vamp. Alice enjoyed her, proving even with fear some grrly vamp goodness kicks ass.