This republished review was originally written in 2003, this review is unedited and appears as it did back then. We hope this review gives you an idea of how the reviewer felt at the time and at the end you’ll see a small review from today where you can see how well the game held up over time.
I have to confess, I didn’t have very high hopes for this when I bought it in the play.com sale but reading around I found it had garnered average reviews and as I fan of the show who missed out on the XBox game I thought it would be something nice to pass the time. And it was, up to a point.
Some reviews have stated that this is a supposed ‘lost’ episode set near the end of S5 but playing the game and running through the story shows this to be a bit of a lie and not really settling in with what has happened before and since. To be honest the story is awful and is only missing the Angel\Buffy favourites of amnesia\alternate history\some parasite turning a good guy bad for it to become something I would truly hate. But it does the job and pushes the game along at the reasonable speed.
To play this game you really need to be a fan of the show. At the beginning you are thrown straight into the deep end with a very basic training level with all the playable members of the Scoobies (Buffy, Xander, Willow and Spike) and it acts as a good way to introduce you to the feel of what is to come. It is short, sweet and gives you a good indicater of what you can expect for the next 10 or so hours of play
Each part of the game is seperated into chapters (where you can only save on completion but restart points are activated at regular intervals) each one taking around 50 minutes to complete that are set at various locations in Sunnydale that many fans of the series will recognise. Each playable character has there own special traits which come to the fore in the fighting with Buffy and Spike being strong fast and agile, Xander is slow and weak with Willow being pretty nimble but not very good with weapons. She does have some very Harry Potteresque (if you have played The Chamber of Secrets you will recognise the effects) magic tricks.
At the start is is a lot of fun. Jumping around beating up bad guys as the character says some humourous quips (which do eventually get tiring) and generally acting a lot like it would it in the tv show. But the games limitations soon begin to show. Repetitive combat with you only using a few select moves to end the battle quickly, annoying illogical puzzles of the Resident Evil variety (find three pieces of a compass to open a door ) and an irritating weapon carrying system.
Your character can only ever hold 5 of one thing at the same time, which is fair enough and makes it pretty true to life. So imagine if you will that you are carrying five stakes. The game allows this and for you to pick up another large weapon so you grab a shovel from the ground. Each weapon has a limited lifespan shown by an energy bar at the top and the longer you use it the less the energy gets. So eventually after much slaying the shovel breaks and becomes a spike. Which is still large enough for the game to allow you to carry it as well as your five stakes. So you carry on beating 7 shades out of the undead and it breaks again into a stake which you will then drop mid battle without any warning because the game does not allow you to carry more than 5. So you struggle to get some breathing space to equip a new weapon because you cannot pick that stake up because you will get beaten to death by the vampires. Very annoying. One final complaint is the camera. It cannot move through walls. So if you are stuck in the corner the game will commit the cardinal sin of you fighting them off screen because you cannot move the camera. A problem that could easily have been rectified.
But enough complaining, what about the good points. The voice acting is very good with the person replacing Sarah Michelle Gellar doing a very accurate rendition that at times you will have trouble telling the difference from the real thing. The Willow replacement is not as good and just sounds out breath most of the time. All of the other main characters are voiced by there original actors and apart from James Marsters (Spike) who just sounds bored, they are all do a very good job. The game is also quite funny with the characters pointing out the stupidy of the situation and as mentioned some of their quips cannot fail to bring a smile to your face. The disk also has interviews with all of the main voice actors apart from Spike (apparantly he discusses his Playstation collection is his interview so his video is left off the GC and XBox versions) as well as a trailer for the dvd of Buffy Season 6 which you unlock as you progress through the game.
So the game is fun to begin with but quickly tires into a dull repetitive slog to the end with you battling the camera, awkward puzzles and illogical leaps of faith. What annoys most is that it has the core of a very good game but too many problems prevent it from being any more than average. Rent if you are a fan, avoid if you are not but do not buy.
Much like the original review this is made for fans of the show. You’re getting more of the same of the original game which is no bad thing. Once again the graphics are showing their age but for Buffy fans its nice to be able to be back in the Buffyverse and explore it a bit more. The game is a bit rougher around the edges than we remember and after a while out stays its welcome but if you are a fan its an enjoyable romp. If you are not a fan there is some enjoyment to gain but you’re missing out a huge amount of its charm which helps carry the game.