Some people might laugh when I admit to this. But this game actually made me to buy an X-box one…The original, not what could have been called the 540, 720 or 3…in 2014. It, along with a few other games like Crimson Skies, Jade Empire and Shenmue 2. But because this didn’t have a PS2 release, I ended up getting an original Xbox, bringing the whole thing up to the same price as current gen titles that are on sale. So, was it worth the money? Well…
Set in the middle of Season 3 (In 1999) of the TV Show, Buffy’s first arch nemesis, The Master (from Season 1, unless you count Lothos as the 1st nemesis, making the master the 2nd) is making a comeback for himself…as a ghost. With the help of “The Dreamers” and a bunch of other Vampires, including Spike, he plans to destroy the world. With this going on, Buffy plans on once again stopping him with the help of the Scooby Gang.
As far as video games based on TV shows are concerned, this game is actually very good. Flawed, but what are we to expect? For 2002, the character models have a good likeness to their actors (especially Giles, Buffy & Willow, but Xander and Angel do look a bit odd), and I also like the fact that they managed to get most of the cast to reprise their roles from the show (Sarah Michelle Gellar excluded, but they managed to get Giselle Loren, who sounds a lot like Gellar) everybody did a very good job here.
The story is basically a very, very long episode that takes place sometime in the show itself, and the writing is as good and characterised as the show is, which is an excellent touch! Full of that Whedon humour that has now oozed into the Marvel Universe via The Avengers.
Gameplay-wise, this is a hybrid game. It’s a 3D Beat-em-up with a handful of tomb raider elements mixed into the game’s journey through each level. As you progress, you’re provided with new power-ups and techniques, and any secret health or special crystals you find can be added unto you via Willow using magic during a rest spot (usually in the school library). Among the weapons you can get include wooden stakes, a crossbow that fires regular arrows, holy water arrows and hellfire arrows, and a super soaker that can carry both holy water and hell fire which doesn’t melt plastic. Good stuff. The game itself does play well, but at times it can be a bit clunky, especially when jumping to grab ledges or horizontal poles. On top of this, I kid you not, you will probably die more often from your level design’s lack of health and safety rather than from being overpowered by Vampires and Demons. And if you’ve gotten used to auto-save, this can be a bit of a pain later on, as trial and error plays a big part in some of the last few levels of the game (Anybody who has played the levels set in the Dreamers’ Realm will know how frustrating this can be. If the creatures don’t kill you, a misplaced step or jump most certainly will. With 1 level in particular being the longest 7 minutes you may ever experience).
As far as music is concerned, there isn’t much of it. What does get played is very fitting to both the show and scenario, but outside of having the show’s main theme song there isn’t very much here that’s memorable.
The game’s length is interesting because it’s actually very short (6-8 hours). But the game itself feels a lot longer than that. It possibly comes with the trial and error, other times it comes with wondering where to go or what to do next. I found myself enjoying it better in bite-size chunks. One to a few levels at a time, like a modern Super Mario game.
Would I recommend this game? Yes. Especially if you’re a fan of the show, but also if you enjoy 3D beat em ups with a very good sense of humour. As far as TV show video games are concerned it’s 1 of the best games of its kind, as it not only captures the soul and spirit of the show, but it also plays well as an actual game. I guess 1 thing I might have against it is its lack of extra or unlockable features (and the controls from time to time).
Level Design: ***3/4
Overall: **** out of 5