Written By Shaun McCracken

Licensed games (based on movies, television shows, comic books or otherwise) seem to be a dime a dozen these days. The common logic (at least in the gaming world) is that for every "GoldenEye", there are at least three "Enter The Matrix"es and four "Charlies Angels". Let's face it, licensed games tend to disappoint, either because of bothced gameplay, lack of relevance to the source material, or both. But there's one franchise that's seemed to have bucked that trend, at least on consoles. The first Buffy The Vampire Slayer game was released back in 2002 exclusively on the Xbox to some pretty great press. Although now the development and publishing has changed hands the second time around, the Buffy franchise still holds strong in the gaming world. It's not saying that BVS: Chaos Bleeds is a perfect game or an excellent game. But BVS: Chaos Bleeds does a lot of things right with a license that bigger developers need to pay attention to.

Now, I haven't had the chance to play the first Xbox Buffy game yet, so I'm not sure if there's any connections fom that game to this one. But it's safe to say that you really don't need to play the first to enjoy this one. Also, you really don't have to be a big fan of the show to enjoy this game. I'll admit, I was into the show the first couple of seasons, but kind of lost interest after the third season. I know who most of the characters in the show are in this game, but in terms of the ongoing plotline, I know I missed something. Still, this game is strong enough in terms of story to not really be releated to the show. So, if you've never seen the series, or only pieces of it, you shouldn't worry about not knowing what's going on. Not like Enter The Matrix.

The story here is pretty much standard fare in the Buffy universe. One of Buffy's old enemies has come back and has decided to bring back a really unwanted force. Along the way of the "scooby gang" trying to stop him, Buffy and her clan are whisked away to an alternate Sunnydale to find the body parts that this enemy requests. I wouldn't want to give so much away, especially for fans of the show. As far as the story goes, it's tightly crafted and well written. And it should be, as the script was written by the writters and creator of the TV show. The writing does so well, the game actually does feel like an episode of the TV show.

That's one of the things that actually suprised me about this game is the level of production value that went into it. It looks like the TV show, it plays out like an episode of the TV show, and it stays very faithful to it's source material. That's important when you make a game based upon a license. I think those who are fans of the show will be very happy with how this game turned out, and even those who aren't big fans of the show can appreciate how much work went into this game to make it worth of it's license. But the question that is still at hand is wether or not the gameplay can back up the production values.

The gameplay of BVS:CB is almost reminicent of the old-school brawlers such as Final Fight, with some puzzles thrown in. There's a lot (and I mean A LOT) of hand-to-hand combat in this game. Almost to the point of where it seems a bit redundant. There's not much variety in the gameplay other than boss fights and puzzles, and those are some of the more frustrating aspects of the game. The "puzzles" may not even be considered puzzles at all, but a matter of "what the hell am I supposed to do with this" or "where do I go next". Some objectives are not very specific, and I was wandering 20 minutes searching for a door or an object. The boss fights are either obvious or confusing. The obvious comes from straight-up combat with the foe. But later battles require some thinking or specific attention. For the most part, the game feels like a standard action title with some obscure objectives. Another pet-peeve in this game is the lack of save-points in the game. Some stages can go on upwards of two hours, and there's no way to save in the middle of a level and continue later. You have to go through the entire stage in one sitting, then save. It's kind of ridiculous.

Now, while you may think that I'm implying that the gameplay is sub-par, it's really not. There are some fun moments, and it's always satisfying jamming a stake into a vampire and watching it disintegrate, even if it's the 100th time you do it. But like many games, there are frustrating moments, and this game has it's fair share of them.

The controls themselves are pretty tight. Walking and fighting is never that clunky and works pretty well. And while the camera tends to have a few erratic moments, you can easily control it with the C-Stick. The only real problem I have with the controls is with the invetory "system". Basicaly, you scroll through your items by pressing left or right on the D-pad, and press up to select it. But there's a lot of fumbling, and that is bad when you're in the heat of combat and need to use that medi-pak.

The visuals of the game are pretty solid, and it's one of the better looking multi-platform games I've seen in some time. The character models are excellent, the environments are detalied, the textures are mostly sharp (there are some that fall flat), the lighting is good, and the framerate is mostly solid. This is pretty much how a Gamecube game should look, where blurry-ass PS2 textures are kept at a minimum. There is a flaw with the fact that there are not a whole lot of variety in the enemy designs. You see a lot of the same security guard or flannel wearing vampires each stage. Overall, not bad.

The audio is also done very well. The voice acting is very good (mostly), because you have most of the actors from the show lending their voices. The actors also know how to keep the tone of the show for the game. Some licensed games that have actual actors give weak and uninspired perfromances. Here, it doesn't happen. There is a couple of noticable omissions, most notably Sarah Michelle Gellar, who plays Buffy. But the stand in give a near-perfect impersonation of the actress. The stand-in who plays Willow is almost a comical impression of Alysson Hannigan, and that's about the worst perfromance in the game. The sound effects and music are done well, but tend to be a bit repetitous as does the voice clips in the game. But overall, the audio in every area piece this game together to give the authentic feel of the show.

Final Thought

I was suprised how well this game was pulled off in terms of production value, as the developers made the best use of a license I've seen in a long time. BVS: CB actually does look, sound and feel like an episode of the TV show, and for the fans of the show, that's important. There have been a lot of disappointing titles based upon licenses that have never seemed to reach their full potential. While the gameplay here is not perfect, it's good enough to play of the license and be pretty enjoyable. It's recommended for fans of the show, or even those looking for a polished action title. It does have some frustrating moments, but the overall attention to detail makes up for that.


Published By :

Developed By:

Year Published :

Players :

ESRB Rating:
TEEN [13+]



It's not perfect, but it's respecatble to the franchsie and uses the license perfectly.


Blade II

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (2002, Xbox)

2003-2006 SPM

All writings and created images are property of SPM, unless otherwise stated or declared. Original content may not be distributed or copied without permission of the author of this site, unless otherwise stated. Game boxes, consoles and names are trademarks of their respective companies, and do not indicate any affiliation of this website.