Review by Yeuh Fei Long
"The Legacy continues.."
The lineage continues with Defiance, the wonderful and intricate story, VA's, puzzles, some platforming all return with some new aspects in gameplay. But does it hold it's own in regards to both it's predecessors and the new implementations? Why yes, it does.
The graphics here are quite good, they come with very sharp images, nice textures that promote fantastic character design and atmospheres that really bring forth a true gothic feeling of being in Nosgoth. Not to say that it goes without some flaws, take for instance, some clipping issues that tend to happen at times. These can be overlooked for the most part, but if it catches you at certain points, the only way to remedy this problem is by restarting from your last check point/save.
At this point, you're being told two sides of the story instead of one, obviously. Kain seeks the position of Balance Guardian to return the rule of Vampires, using Raziel as a pawn to obtain his goals, also wants to beat down Moebius for denying him his superiority over him. Raziel wants to break free of his bonds that keep him in purgatory with the Elder God and find the answers that bewilder his fate, also, he wants to kick Kain's arrogant ass into submission or oblivion, or a combination of both, I'm going for the latter. If this isn't drama, I don't know what it is. Of course it's much more elaborate than what I've constructed.
Pretty good, actually. Awesome voice actors. Symphonic, electronic and some guitar strings are thrown into the mix that brings forth the more gothic/Old-English oriented style music. The effects really shine though, from listening to the commentary between characters and helpless victims, to special attacks and hearing Kain laugh when he impales someone with the Reaver is just simply excellent and archaic.
The gameplay contains fluid movement which is fantastic, along with a good amount of attacks and specials, but would of really liked to have seen more, as it lacks some variety, but is more or less made up for in the attacks and combinations along with the different imbuement's of the Reaver's.
As both Kain and Raziel, you're armed with the Reaver, it's physical form belongs to Kain, and it's spectral or fated form belongs to Raziel. Even though they both have variations of attacks, they unfortunately play the same. Combat revolves around using the Reaver which is capable of a three hit combo that can be chained with a launcher that throws up your enemy in the air helplessly to be followed by a series of slashing attacks or a knock back attack. Square is used for the regular slashes and triangle is used for the launcher, holding it will allow either character to pursue the enemy in mid-air. I like how the game has taken this direction, it's definitely more combat focused, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that, what's wrong is the heaps of reviews calling it a Devil May Cry rip off when there are no similar aspects that proclaim it. Juggling mechanics aren't reserved by Capcom, people. Enough digressing.
The juggling and fighting, while entertaining, could of really used more variations of attacks, more combos and chains, because it does tend to get stale, not fast mind you, but it does get distasteful after using it continuously. However, there are other methods of attack, thank goodness, to keep it from getting distasteful. Both characters have telekinetic powers that can push or pull enemies into objects or off of platforms to their deaths. These powers can even be pulled off in combos and in launchers. They also get upgraded throughout the game. Progressing through the game and in fights, you gain combat experience, it's measured by the Reaver outline in the select menu, once it's filled to the brim, you gain a special/combo attack. These are pretty amusing to watch, as simplistic as they are or thought to be, they're rather hard to pull off in the heat of combat. Pressing the analog stick toward the enemy and inputting either the square or triangle attack simultaneously, executes the attack, it takes practice, and it's certainly worth the time to take practicing. You need all the attacks you can get when man-handling and condescending with your Vampiric prowess against the hordes of demons, vampire hunters and soldiers. Kain and Raziel can finish their enemies by either indulging into their appetites, by Kain biting into the necks of his enemies or telekinetically sipping the blood through the air, he can also give the Reaver more power and output capabilities by stabbing into the torso of the fallen. Raziel can basically do the same, stab his spectral Reaver into his enemies, powering up his corporeal blade, or kick the feet out from under his opponents while jabbing his arm into their solar plexus's and grabbing their souls. And of course he can suck the souls of the dead into his jawless mouth by removing his cowl.
What also aids in combat is the Reaver upgrades and their own specials that can be pulled off when you hold down the square button. Some unleash a blast, knocking back surrounding foes, and others cloak or ignite the unfortunate opponent. It keeps the gameplay motivated, unless of course you have attention deficit disorder and can make just about anything entertaining, then this doesn't apply to you, but for those of us who need more meat and potatoes to provide more of an extensive system, this game does a good job.
As I said earlier, more attacks and specials would of been nice, that keeps this game from receiving a perfect score, but what really hinders this game from greatness is the camera. It's pretty bad, as if an extremely inept camera man is operating the view and has no concept of what peripheral vision means at times. The camera often follows the characters, more over though, it hangs up on inanimate objects and clips into said objects at times. It gets clunky and starts bouncing as well. You can't manually rotate it either, you can however, push it to either the right or left to catch a glimpse of whatever you seem to be missing in the first place. Often times, because of this problematic camera, both characters will be losing life reluctantly to either opponents or traps.
Who likes a good plot anymore in their video games? Who's not phased by partaking in mindless violence and not knowing why they're committing genocide to begin with? Well for those who do wonder and would love a game that actually has a very depth-full plot, this is your game, coupled with a good combat system and unlockable bonus materials by collecting Arcane Tomes, you just can't go wrong. Again, unless you're one of those unfortunate people who have the attention span of a year old child or the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, then you probably should look elsewhere and seek treatment/medication.
Over All, Legacy of Kain: Defiance delivers what it promised, the continuation of the series that answers more questions then it proposes, a refined combat system, and replay value. It lacks some polish, variety and a competent camera, but everything else, fortunately, makes up for the faults. This game will be sure to twist and make that brain think through it's depth-full storyline and make you shout ''Vae Victus'' whenever you feel you've made and adequate display of death on you television screen.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/13/03
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