In recent months, we've seen some new entries in the ever-widening survival-horror genre, such as Jaleco's Vampire Hunter D, Asmik-Ace's The Ring, and, to some extent, Activision's Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn. These games owe quite a bit to the Resident Evil series, or as some will argue, the Alone in the Dark line, and Countdown Vampires is no exception. While most of these games at least attempted to bring something new to the genre, or went to significant lengths to create an interesting storyline, Countdown Vampires does not. The game is flawed on so many levels that only the most dedicated survival-horror fan might get some enjoyment out of it.
In the game, you play the role of Keith J. Snyder, a policeman hired to provide security for a new horror-themed casino. The game opens with a very nice CG sequence - a fire starts and mayhem ensues. Soon enough, the sprinklers engage, spewing black water on the party guests and turning them into vampires. From here, your quest to discover the origins of the mysterious black water begins. Playing the role of a good security guard, you must shoot the humans-turned-vampires with an anesthetic gun and sprinkle them with white water to turn them back to normal. Later in the game you will encounter grotesque monsters that must be killed, and a gun that merely puts enemies to sleep will not be enough to ensure your survival.
For the remainder of the adventure, the game employs some tried-and-true features of survival-horror games, like droves of enemies, keys to hunt, and cryptic puzzles to solve so you can find needed items. Countdown Vampires takes these features more than a single step further by cloning Resident Evil in almost every aspect imaginable. In theory, Vampires could have been an above-average entry to the survival-horror market, but it ultimately fails.
First and foremost, the game is haunted by some particularly bad camera angles and confusing level design. Many times, a room has several exits, so getting to the next room can be a chore, and as the camera changes from room to room, you can easily become lost. While it was a valiant attempt to provide some much needed depth to the traditional prerendered backgrounds of this type of game, in practice, the only purpose it serves is to confuse the person playing the game.
In a genre that thrives on interesting storylines, this game more or less seems to have taken just about every overused notion of plot, changed a few minor details, and spit it back at you. What could have been an intriguing plot ends up feeling rushed and does little to keep you interested. To add insult to injury, you'll also find laughable voice acting in this game. Devoid of any type of emotion whatsoever, the flatly delivered lines do not aid in carrying the story along at all. Additionally, a good deal of the onscreen text is poorly translated; while only a minor detail, it's rather annoying.