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I had the fortune of playing this game both before I became a fan of the show and after I became obsessed with the series. Because of this I can look back and laugh at the British guy wearing a silly mask when I didn't know who Giles was, then laugh again when I did, as well as look at how well the game played and then concentrate on how it portrayed Buffy. So does the game live up to the hype?
I have to admit the controls are a little stiff, but the combat is quite decent. Using the different punches, kicks, throws and special moves and weapons is easy enough, it's just a matter of putting it all together. The combat is novel in that Buffy cannot actually kill her enemies without using a finishing move: a stake to the heart, thrown into sharp objects, fire, and the same applies to her. Plus this is a pretty tough game, with fighting moves and defense used intelligently. Combine this with some of the platforming scenes and it's certainly not something you will complete overnight.
The graphics are really quite decent for a ten year old game, but some characters are better captured than others. Buffy, Giles and Spike look great, but Willow and Angel look messed up. This might be because the game tries to be stylistic as opposed to matching the actors exactly. The environments are fairly standard, the character models certainly standing out as better.
With the exception of Sarah Michelle Gellar all the voice actors feature in the game. I quite liked the interaction between Angel and Cordelia, but Spike sounds to be honest a little bored. More effort could have come from James Marsters. As for Buffy herself a girl named Giselle Loren is a worthy stand in, matching SMG's tone and inflection.
The question most fans would be wondering is does it capture the spirit of the show and is it a good game? The game is set mid season three and it captures the tone perfectly. There's no Faith to worry about, Oz is on tour, numerous plots up to that point are addressed and the sadness and tragedy are toned down for the Scoobies to act like the Scoobies. As far as the game itself goes, the combat is solid, the challenge is certainly there, it's fun using the different weapons that can be a blessing and a curse, and the simple puzzle and exploration aspect leave the difficulty to the fighting and platforming. Fans should check it out.
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