Review by Braben
"Mmnn, this souls are not good, I am starting to see everything green."
I got this game for free in a magazine claiming that it was one of the best action games of the year (the year it was released), in fact, this game got rave reviews from almost everyone, just don`t ask me why.
Kain, the vampire lord, is pissed off because his inner child is jealous of Raziel`s new pair of wings, so he executes poor Raziel, the problem is that it seems he isn`t quite dead yet.
As expected, that is as much as you get in terms of plot, what you read in the instruction booklet or watch during the intro, it is true that there are a few cut scenes and all, some of the boss battles are specially noteworthy, but nothing to get exited about.
A bit blocky, edgy and with a few ugly sprites (doors and weapons for example), but still very good. What it isn`t ok is the fact that there is too much, and I mean TOO MUCH green in the game, imagine playing using a Sprite/7up bottle as goggles and you will be in the right direction.
Plus, there is hardly any variety when it comes to... absolutely everything: enemies, scenarios, puzzles, abilities, weapons, music... you name it, there isn`t enough variety of that. One single glimpse at any screenshot would be enough to give you an idea about, at least, 95% of the game. Very sad.
Unexpectedly, not only the music is good, the thing here is that, well, THERE IS music. Damn!, that sure is something unusual in these type of games. What I mean is that the soundtrack is there all the time and not only when we discover something or during the first five seconds after the intro. It is not very varied I must say, but I guess that is asking too much.
In terms of voice acting I can only talk about the Spanish dub, which is completely out of place, specially Raziel`s voice, he sounds like a prepubescent version of Rock Hudson, and I guess a zombie-vampires sounding like a playboy from the 60`s isn`t exactly, well, let`s say appropriate, and you won`t find a vampirized love interest with the voice of Doris Day to compensate.
When compared to Tomb Raider (because this is basically a Tomb Raider clone), Soul Reaver is a mixed bag, it is way better in some areas, but I would say it is even more monotonous and repetitive, and if there is a big flaw in Tomb Raider (among all the big flaws those games have), that is the monotony. Soul Reaver plays much better than any Tomb Raider, but in the end it is basically as bad (as bad as the first three, the fourth one is quite decent).
Then, the controls are excellent, Raziel jumps, runs, fights, crawls etc in a very fast and completely controllable way, exactly the opposite of Tomb Raider, where its Prince of Persia-esque controls were nightmare most of the time.
The combats are both good and bad, they are good because as I said before the controls are very well done and our character is easily controllable, there is even a button to lock on our targets and Raziel eats his enemie`s souls to refill his energy, however, they are so monotonous that you will end up running from the enemies in order not engage the drowse-inducing combats.
For this reason, the way we get rid of most enemies, one of the game`s highlights, is completely wasted. The enemies can`t die unless they are burned or impaled or stuff like that, and in order to burn or impale them we have use spikes on the walls, bonfires, torches, spears, etc. Sounds neat I know, and it IS neat, but only for about half and hour.
The puzzles are another problem, we have to do things like pushing and aligning big boxes as well as a few more things that no one has ever seen in a video game before, not to mention there is hardly any information about how to solve them, and that, if there are annoying platforms involved is one of the most exasperating things you can find in one of these games.
Whatever, above everything, the biggest flaw by far are those terrible scenario designs, if you combine horrendously monotonous graphics with equally monotonous scenarios, what would be the result?, of course the amount of monotony would be overwhelming, and believe me, it is. And again, there is just too much, too much green in this game, everything is green here, the game is divided in two different dimensions, dark and light, but the only difference is that the dark dimension is dark green and the light dimension, well, light green. Hell, even most the enemies are green.
The saving system also stinks, we never start from the point where we saved, we have to start again from some kind of neutral stage (think Super Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazzoie). The problem is that the stages are represented with very confusing symbols, in order to enter a stage we have to remember that symbol and select it from some kind of mural or portal. The problem is that these symbols look extremely alike, so you`ll get lost, and since there is no difference between stages (they are all green remember?), you will end up completely lost.
As a result:
After the first thirty minutes you have already seen everything the game has to offer, and not only in terms of graphics, this includes gameplay, graphics, music, puzzles, scenarios, enemies and even weapons, or what is the same, absolutely everything.
The game impresses us at the beginning with its nice design and badass main character but then repeats all the time till the end. Another good idea wasted by the incompetence or its developers. Go get Indiana Jones and The Infernal Machine instead, one of the few worthy 3D adventure titles for the PC, or even Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 07/22/05
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