"I'd rather get jerked off by a jellyfish while I eat a platypus's asshole! I mean, actually eat the negative space of its anus! So, fuck this game! Die, monster! You don't belong in this world!"— Angry Video Game Nerd
Countdown Vampires is a survival horror game for the PlayStation developed by K2 LLC and published by Bandai in Japan on December 22, 1999, and in North America on August 21, 2000. It was never released in Europe.
Keith J. Snyder is a policeman who was deemed for the murder of his partner Wesley Simmons, and as a disciplinary measure, he is assigned to provide security for a new horror-themed casino. Soon enough, the sprinklers engage, spewing black water on the party guests and turning them into vampires. From here, your quest is to investigate and discover the origins of the mysterious black water.
The gameplay is pretty similar to the first Resident Evil games, as it uses the same controls and the same use of fixed camera angles to navigate through the levels. The only difference is that here you must shoot the vampires with your anesthetic gun and sprinkle them with white water to "restore their humanity".
Why It Sucks
- Ridiculous plot which makes no sense. Keith Snyder was accused of murdering his partner, and instead of going to jail, he is assigned to be a bodyguard for protecting assorted VIPs at the opening of a horror-themed casino.
- Besides that, the feeling of a story progression is barely felt because the game doesn't really explain the plot at all. Some of the background stories is explained as you read some documents that you can find while playing, but the premise is still difficult to understand and there are many things that are unexplained.
- To make things worse, you have to play through the game at least twice to get the full story, because only a portion of the plot is revealed in the initial playthrough and the rest is locked up in a special “story mode” that you can unlock if you beat the game on normal in less than 8 hours, and the ending of this special mode is not even worth it, take a look by yourself.
- The entire gameplay is a rip-off of the original Resident Evil games, as it uses the same tank controls and the fixed camera angles. This gets worse when you notice that many games at the time were compatible with the DualShock controllers, even the original Resident Evil 2 has compatibility with this controller, something that this game doesn't have.
- It's worth mentioning that the game also rips-off the well-known countdown sections of Resident Evil, but here they appear in the beginning, in the middle, and in a puzzle with two of them.
- While the graphics look decent for its time, the pre-rendered backgrounds are of very low quality, even for a PlayStation game.
- Confusing and frustrating level design. Most of the time a room can have several exits and makes the task of going to the next room a chore, and since the camera angles change from room to room, you can get lost pretty easily. Also, there are some parts that don't have any sense, there is a part in a corridor where you need to go down a ladder just to walk a few meters and climb up another ladder, and not only that, many parts of the game require a lot of backtracking just to find a single item that wasn't there before.
- At the start of the game, you have to type a first name, the last name and select your blood group, but these options will not affect the gameplay in any way, making them entirely pointless.
- The opening cutscene introduces a lot of characters that never appear in the game again, besides the main character, only two of them actually appear in the actual game: a security guard and his waitress. And if this wasn't enough, the security guard is one of the first characters to die.
- There is no need to shoot the vampires with your dart gun and much less spraying the white water on them, you can only shoot them with your regular weapons and they will still die. Also, the manual of the game says that you can get a bonus for splashing them with the white water, but this is a big lie, as the game will not reward you for spraying the vampires with the white water.
- The vampires don't even behave as real vampires, they just wander around clumsily and punch you when they are close to you.
- The game has an abysmal amount of words missing spaces, grammar, and spelling errors. Even one of the first weapons you get in the game is misspelled in the menu as "stun globe" instead of "stun glove". Some of them can even confuse you, especially the part when you find the secret elevator in the stripper pole of the casino, which says: "There's an elevator, but it doesn't to turn on the power".
- The AI is so terrible that it can't even be considered artificial intelligence:
- All of the enemies seem to have trouble turning corners, and in a similar way to Drake of the 99 Dragons, they can't walk upstairs and they'll just walk in circles instead.
- Some enemies can get stuck in a single hallway and more of them that are nearby will get stuck too. To make matters worse, this is not even a glitch, it's the way they were programmed.
- While there are some enemies that fit well in the game like werewolves, there are some others that are quite unfitting, like giant bugs, lizard monsters, goo monsters, and even batmen.
- The game is extremely easy because of the braindead AI, even if you play the game on normal.
- To add salt to the wound, there aren't many differences between the easy and normal difficulty (which is the highest in the game), the most notorious is the fact that the vampires will hop around as if they were frogs.
- You can find a lot of ammo in the game, making the game even easier. For instance, the AVGN got 834 bullets across eight different weapons at the end of the game, and he wasn't even trying to save ammo, as he killed every single enemy in the game.
- If you get managed to get killed in the game, the game over screen will only show your dead corpse and the classic "game over" phrase without any kind of sound or music, thus giving the feeling that it wasn't finished.
- God-awful voice acting that makes the dub of the first Resident Evil game blush. Keith Snyder's voice sounds like if he was 15 years old and it obviously doesn't fit his physical appearance, Misato will often cry like an injured puppy, and the death sound of the vampires resembles more of the laugh of a junkie.
- The title is very lazy and is very literal since you mostly fight vampires and there are a lot of countdown sequences (BQ #2).
- There second story which you must complete in less than 8 hours, but most players that not complete to second story mode because really too long due to your movement too slow. For instance, the AVGN completed the first story for over 9 hours and 37 minutes, so Rolfe must complete the first story only in 8 hours to get the second story mode.
- The game requires the amount of three blocks of your memory card just to save your game, and not only that, the game is separated into two disks, meaning that after beating the first half of the game, you have to put the second disk to continue your game.
- The box art looks so poor that it seems like an amateur edit you would find on a 2000 website.
- The game has multiple endings, which gives it some replay value.
- The cutscenes look awesome for its age, even if the strippers that turned into vampires seem as if they were covered with diarrhea.
- The sound effects are great, even if they seem to be lifted right out of Resident Evil in some cases.
- The soundtrack fits really well with the game's pacing and ambientation.
Countdown Vampires received mixed to negative reviews and it has an average of 41 out of 100 in Metacritic.
Tim Tracy from GameSpot gave the game a 3.3 out of 10, shortly describing: "The game is flawed on so many levels that only the most dedicated survival-horror fan might get some enjoyment out of it." IGN rated it with a 45, and stating that "It is, in just about every way you can think of, a poor man's "Resident Evil," to the point that it even shares "Resident Evil's" lingering fundamental design flaws." However, not all of the reviews were negative, PSXNation gave the game a score of 76, the highest of all the reviews, saying that "Countdown Vampires falls squarely in the middle. It offers gamers two discs of entertainment that are not original, not half bad."
- The developer studio, K2 LLC, was acquired in May 2008 by Capcom and helped to the development of Resident Evil 5.
Additional research: https://retromaggedon.com/index.php/countdown-vampires-review/
- Metacritic average score: https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation/countdown-vampires
- GameSpot's review: https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/countdown-vampires-review/1900-2627775/
- IGN's review: https://www.ign.com/articles/2000/09/13/countdown-vampires
- MobyGames page about the studio: https://www.mobygames.com/company/k2-co-ltd