Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 78%
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
When I reviewed Wrath of the Darkhul King last year, I admitted that I had never watched the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show. I played and reviewed that game on the basis that I thoroughly enjoyed the two Xbox games that came before it. Since then, I have watched through the first two seasons of the show and really enjoyed them. I now own the whole series and look forward to continuing through it. With this fresh perspective, I went back to the original Buffy game on the Xbox to see if it still holds up. Fortunately, while not perfect, it's still a great experience for fans of the Slayer.

Story-wise, the game couldn't be any more authentic. Taking place after the first couple seasons, Buffy falls into a plan by the Order of Aurelius to resurrect the Master. If that sounds Greek to you, don't worry. There's a full exposition dump narrated by Giles (accessible from the main menu) to get the uninitiated up to speed on the goings-on in Sunnydale. While the jokes sometimes fall flat, the plot works wonderfully. It helps that almost all of the main players from the show provide the voicework for the game. The only exception is Buffy herself, but the Sarah Michelle Gellar sound-alike does do a good job.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Xbox)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The game is largely a 3D beat-em-up. While there are the occasional puzzles, they are simple even by Resident Evil standards, merely involving finding keys or switches to open doors. There is some basic platforming that's handled well, but the focus is clearly on the combat. Buffy has a ton of combat moves involving punches, kicks, and a variety of weapons. On a whole, the fighting is very satisfying; however, the combat has a few chinks in the armor. A few moves are so overpowered that it makes the rest of Buffy's repertoire almost pointless. The crossbow aiming really needed to be tightened; the aiming reticule jerks haphazardly too often. In contrast, the staking required to finish most of the vampires is almost TOO precise. There were times where being just one pixel off failed to finish them.

This was one of the few Xbox exclusives in the first year of the console's lifecycle unlike the sequel Chaos Bleeds which was multiplatform. As such, the original Buffy game really showed off what the Xbox could do. The level of detail is impressive even now. The environments from Sunnydale High to the Sunken Church are incredibly detailed, almost dead-ringers for their TV counterparts. The characters look great for the most part; Xander's face is a little lifeless. The sound design is fantastic. Aside from the stellar voice-acting, the music and ambiance go far towards creating a creepy atmosphere. The only real problem would be the wiseass remarks made by Buffy and the generic foes. I've heard the same wisecracks up to a half-dozen times in a single level.

The original Buffy the Vampire Slayer game on the Xbox is the best game with the Slayer's name on it, bar none. The story is razor-close to canon, the visuals and sound create the perfect atmosphere, and the combat is very solid. Even if you know nothing about the Buffyverse (yeah, that word does sound stupid), it's still an engaging action game in its own right. It's all the enjoyment of being Buffy without the schoolwork. Check it out!
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