Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a third person adventure game based on the popular TV series of the same name. It is the perfect game if you have had a bad day at the office and need to inflict some damage as "the chosen one". I have always liked the premise of the TV series, and the game sticks faithfully to both the action and the humour of the show. However, I think this game is good enough to be of interest to those who have never even watched Buffy before.
As Buffy, you must find your way through a series of spooky locations, solve puzzles, and fight a variety of vampires, zombies and demons. The environment is beautifully rendered, and very reminiscent of the show. The puzzles are fairly straightforward, comprising mainly of tomb raider style switches and objects, and the game play is very linear. You can spend quite a while trying to figure out where to jump to, and should check every environment for secrets. However, the fighting is very well done and makes up for any other shortcomings. The fighting controls are very similar to a beat-em-up, and really easy to master. It is great fun just running around killing vampires. Buffy needs to beat up her foe sufficiently to stun them, before finishing them off with a killer move. Different enemies are susceptible to different things, and you may have to be a little creative to survive. Vampires can usually be staked, but you will meet vampires wearing metal breastplates, and there are also zombies and demons to worry about.
Buffy fights with a combination of punches and kicks, with her repertoire of special moves increasing as you move through the levels. If you pull off one of her special moves it does a lot of damage, and you will hear a part of the Buffy theme music. Special moves use up slayer power, which is shown as a bar next to your energy bar, so you need to be careful not to waste a big move by missing the vampire, or to tire yourself out by constantly using these moves. You can replenish both bars by picking up the energy from your dead foes, and by using objects. There are some nice weapons to collect, including a very handy cross bow and a curved blade which can also be thrown. It is also possible to mix items, for example adding holy water to crossbow darts to really annoy the vampires. Some weapons are just too much fun not to try, like the spade and a huge hammer, but you will probably end up using the curved blade most of the time as it is really satisfying and works well on groups of vampires.
The story is closely tied to the TV show. The Master (a powerful vampire killed by Buffy) has found a way to resurrect himself using the powers of three Dreamer demons. He will throw everything he can at you and even transport you to a Dreamer realm to try to gain his revenge on Buffy and return to plague the living. Along the way you meet all of the main characters of the TV series. Willow can help you upgrade your skills, Giles provides necessary advice and occult paraphernalia, Zander helps out with weapons, and Cordelia makes sarcastic comments. You will also have to fight Spike, which is particularly good fun.
The game felt quite short to me, but I think this may have been because I didn´t want it to finish. Yet I think this game has a better replay value than others in this genre simply because the fighting is so much fun. Some of the levels were quite nerve racking to play, and the action is well paced. I am not a fan of horrible jumps which, if failed, let you plunge to your doom, and while there were a few, there was only really one time that I felt like throwing the game away in frustration. However, the pull of the game was enough to make me keep going back until I got it.
All in all, I really enjoyed this game, and would definitely recommend it for anyone. The price has recently been reduced, so you have no excuse - will you pick up a stake and save the world?