On paper at least, Vampire Slayer FPS (80 MSP) seems to have it all figured out, taking two contrasting styles of gameplay and setting them loose against each other in an arena setting. Instead of capitalizing on that promise, however, it’s an also-ran in the wave of first-person shooters on the service, with the distinction of taking the whole movement back a few steps with shoddy design choices.
The game is playable offline with AI bots or online with up to five others, and comes with two maps, a hospital / institution level with tiny hallways and rooms, or an outdoor courtyard with lots of open spaces. As the title implies, it’s Vampires, armed with only melee attacks, versus Slayers, equipped with shotguns, machine guns, crossbows, and crucifixes. Doing the math at face value it would seem unfair, though the vamps gain a few significant perks, such as resurrection and healing (feeding off the corpses of your enemies, natch). And while their melee-only moves force you to get up close, you can leapfrog around the arenas at will, transitioning into attacks and quickly covering much more ground than your slower would-be hunters.
It’s choosing the Slayer side that comes with an extreme disadvantage, and not just in losing the ability to leap or resurrect oneself. You see, vampires will go down with a few shots, but in order to get credit for and really kill the sparkly-in-the-daylight bastards, you’ll need to stake them. The thought is nice, and a wooden stake is supplied for your convenience (another of your secondary weapons), but the actual staking is a real pain, based on positioning (not what you want to do in a fast-paced FPS) and luck. Miss (I’ve cleverly taken to calling it a mis-stake…), or fail to swap in time (vampires don’t stay down long), and they’ll stand back up, catching you off-guard and reversing the roles.
And I wasn’t the only one to notice this, apparently. As you’re allowed to switch teams, online matches frequently filled up with Vampires, constantly leaving the other side with less players, or with those players electing to quit once the trick had been found out. Even with the Slayers’ superior firepower and ‘safety in numbers’ group-think that eventually took hold, the result was the same each time; the Vampires cleaned house. So much for proper balancing.
Not that being pummeled repeatedly in matches had any adverse effects on my character. Despite the ability to level up, there’s no incentive to do so, no unlocks to speak of or stat-tracking beyond the immediate match you’re in, which makes playing an already sloppy and tedious game redundant. Throw in bare-bones settings and options (Team Deathmatch is the only mode in town), and it all serves only to highlight the dull maps / layouts and unsurprising gameplay.
Vampire Slayer FPS tries but is barely serviceable as a shooter. It does deserve credit for eschewing color palette swaps and attempting to bring some variety to usually-staid team deathmatch-types. The idea can be appreciated from afar, but not when it’s lopsidedly-skewed to favor the undead side once the action starts. As such, the competitiveness and fun in multiplayer sort of implodes from there. The game isn’t a total waste of your 80 MSP, but it isn’t a smart buy either.