Act 3 of BloodRayne has about half as many levels as act 2, but nonetheless I wound up playing through all of Act 2 in a single day, and splitting up Act 3. The reason is that Act 2, for all its length, kept on moving forward, whereas in Act 3, I got stuck in the final confrontation. Understand that this is one of those games that only saves between levels, and losing a fight means restarting the level from the beginning. But even so, there’s a sense of progress if you can keep on doing more damage before dying on each iteration. In the last level, I was lacking even that, so I took a break. Let me go into a little detail.
The end boss is actually two bosses who aren’t friends: they try to fight each other when they’re not attacking you, but aren’t capable of inflicting significant damage on each other. One the one side, there’s the demon Beliar, a sort of slow-moving headless and inhuman skeleton made of sharp bits, who periodically returns to his spawn point in the center of the room and grows larger. If he gets big enough, he wins, in a FMV cutscene that I never saw during gameplay, because I generally died long before it was a possibility. On the other side, there’s Gruppenführer Jurgen Wulf, the man to blame for Beliar taking physical form, and who now, predictably, regrets it. As the player knows from earlier cutscenes, Wulf has super-speed and a sort of Street-Fighter-ish fire punch he can do if you stand still for it. There’s plenty of loose guns around due to the slaughter that preceded the fight, but neither enemy is a good target for gunfire — Wulf because he’s hard to hit, Beliar because guns just don’t seem to do much to hurt him.
The key with Wulf was obvious: bullet-time karate. But that’s not a realistic option with a guy made of knives. I had a hard enough time making so much as a credible dent in Beliar that I wound up hitting up the Internet for hints, thinking there must be some trick I was missing. Apparently he has one vulnerable spot, which you can aim at in sniper mode, but even now I’m not quite sure where that is — it’s his “heart”, but exactly where that is was kind of muddied by his peculiar anatomy and the fact that he never stays still long enough to get a good look. (Alas, you can’t be in sniper mode and bullet time simultaneously.) These may be problems peculiar to the PC version, though, because I didn’t see anyone else with similar complaints.
I did, however, see a certain amount of disagreement on a key question: what order should you kill the two enemies in? On the one hand, Beliar is the one responsible for the time limit. If you take him out, you have all the time you need to finish off Wulf. On the other hand, Wulf is relatively quick to kill, and once he’s not running around and distracting Beliar any more, Beliar becomes a lot easier to control. One forum post recommended letting Beliar grow a few times and then dashing into a tunnel: if he’s following only you, he’ll get stuck on the tunnel entrance and be easy to shoot. This only works for a little while, but apparently that can be enough to kill him if you can find his heart. I ultimately wound up taking Wulf out first, then killing Beliar mainly with explosives to the general chest area, letting splash damage do what my aim could not. But this was only after trying it both ways, multiple times. Experiments were helped by one pleasant surprise: after you kill either one, you get to save the game! This is the only place in the entire game where you can save mid-level.
Each kill was also accompanied by a short FMV cutscene, with some variation depending on ordering. All the FMV in the game was shown in a different resolution than the game itself, which was a bit of a problem: my current hardware takes several seconds to adjust to a change in graphics mode, so I always missed the beginning of the clip. (And they’re short clips, so that was a high proportion of the whole.) Fortunately, all the video exists on disc in the form of perfectly ordinary mpegs that I could view afterward to see what I had missed.
And that’s it! I’m done with BloodRayne, and actually have been for several days now. It has sequels, but I don’t have any of them, and even if I wind up acquiring them through a bundle or something, they won’t have the same status for me without physical media. After finishing the game came a little ritual I haven’t had an opportunity to engage in for a couple of years now: reshelving the CD-ROM, moving it from the are reserved for the Stack to the place for completed games. I suppose this means I have to decide what the new Oath is. I’ll be updating that page shortly.