Review by Vesperas

""But this coincidence seemed too convenient""

Legacy of Kain: Defiance is the (actual) sequel to Legacy of Kain: Soul Revear 2... as opposed as the direct sequel to Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2. Let me break it down for you.

Game Play:
The game play in the Legacy of Kain series got worse and worse with each installment. But Legacy of Kain: Defiance is by far the best in the series.

Movement: This game can be considered in the 3rd person perspective but the running and walking isn’t perfect for this type of game. You just move the analog where you want to go, it’s not hard and better than Blood Omen 2’s Tomb Raider turning. The flaw is how the camera might switch around and you might fall off a narrow platform or such. Also, this creates the “Right out of the door and double back.” This is how you might find yourself entering the same area you just left again (I’m sure this happened to you before.) Jumping is easy to pull off and gliding is as easy as ever. The only problem here might be how you will not land a jump because, once again, the camera is all screwed up. There is no more sneaking button anymore, but you still can by just lightly taping the analog stick. Dodging in this game is fantastic, Kain will “Mist Dash” in which he is practically invulnerable to attacks and looks really awesome. Raziel employs a lesser dodge, his rolling and back flipping. One last problem I had was when I first started playing the game, I had a hard time slowing down with Kain... and I would fall into water... But that’s because I wasn’t used to it... The movement would nearly be perfect if it wasn’t for the camera.

Combat: This has been the biggest jump of a combat system I have ever seen. Ok, first off, they definitely had some influence from Capcom’s Devil May Cry (1). First off, they have a make your own chain of combos system. This means you can add and chain tons of different things together. Like for instance, just like in Devil May Cry, you get a high time like move (If you haven’t played DMC yet, it is an uppercut with your sword) and can follow it up with a downward slash... But you can also knock them on the ground and pop them back up... or attack them three and possibly about ten times... or even telekinetic (TK) them. Raziel even gets a multi stabbing attack. Any ways, there is no need to pick up weapons in this game as you always have your Reaver on (Kain gets the original Blood Reaver while Raziel gets his Soul Reaver), this means no crap like the other games (Where it gets aroused or disappears if you are not at full health). You drink blood with Kain or reave souls with Raziel for health. Or you can charge up your little bar by impaling a near dead opponent. When this bar is charged up fully, all your regular attacks are much stronger and have an effect of the Reaver you are using and also lets you do one strong ass special move. Not to mention that you can have six reavers with Kain and about ten with Raziel. These includes a Dimension warping reaver, and time streaming reaver, and they final added the fabled ice, earth, and lighting reavers. The TK’ing is ok, I thought it was going to be better... But you can lift people and throw them into pits, spikes, and even break statues. The only thing that is lame, is how Raziel and Kain basically have the same moves only done differently.

Enemies: The enemies are actually smart in this game and sometimes require you to actually think. Any ways, you start off by just fighting Sarafan warriors that take a little while to dispose of... Then you move on to enemies that use magic to enhance their comrade’s powers... with things like an amplify damage type aura and even healing ones (Um, can you say, “Diablo 2?”). Then when you gain control of Raziel, you must take out a newly designed scourges in the spectral realm and various Vampire hunters. These include female warriors and grunts with giant hammers. Towards the end, you face some of the demons from Soul Reaver 2, which are hard as hell. The only really bad part is that there is these two types of statue enemies... One is a slow moving one with a sword, another is an even slower one with a on and off fire shield. These are ok, except for the fact that not only do you see these all the time (In the most obvious places... like right before you use a portal), but they take a ton of hits to kill. These are generally easy to kill, but they take forever to fight and will become annoying once you have to fight like four in a row.

Bosses: They actually brought back bosses complete with a visible life bar and all. But the Legacy of Kain series could never make good dramatic boss fights. The first about six bosses are just dead spirits of the vampire pillar guardians. Now the idea wouldn’t of been so bad, since they are designed really good, but they have about two attacks each and are almost all the same. They are also very easy (I never once had to retry on these bosses). However, there are a couple other bosses, but the fact still remains the same. They all act on a pattern and are easy as hell to defeat. The final boss (Which will make you wet your pants when you find out who you are up against) is actually hard, but not because of it’s execution but because of “its” cheap shoots and poor hit detection (you hitting it). But the only good part is, that these bosses do have a point and the Legacy of Kain series has always did this. Well excluding the vampire spirits, all the bosses in this game actually have a good and solid connection to the story.

Layout: This game is new to the Legacy of Kain world, you now get to play as both Kain and Raziel, but not at a choice. Every so often you will switch characters automatically. Now, you do go through the same areas sometimes, but usually you are in two different time periods. The game actually has a semi expansive inventory system. It is nothing like Blood Omen 1, but it is second, none the less. Any ways, each character gets to collect up to twelve health shards (three makes a whole) and increase their maximum life total. Both get to collect eight TK runes that increase the amount of energy they can put into it. Both get to collect ancient tablets, which unlock bonus material (which is useless, because once you beat the game, you get all of them any ways). Then you get a newly added experience bar in the shape of the reaver. This lets you unlock more moves, like a rapid attack or a stronger lift move. Saving in this game is just like in Blood Omen 2, you just walk over a little checkpoint symbol and that will be where you start from if you die. Raziel still has his spectral realm, only this time you need to find a gas emitted from dead bodies instead of a planer portal. Which is OK, other than the fact that they are really hard to see.

All in all, the game play passes. It does have a few flaws, but they are overcome. Again, this game is not perfect, but is definitely the best in the series.
Good

Challenge:
Well this is hard to explain... If you never played a Legacy of Kain game before, this game might be a little harder, but if you have played one before, most puzzles will be easy to complete. Any ways, the majority of the puzzles aren’t that hard to complete, there are only a few areas that are actually hard to complete (like possibly a certain mansion). Revear puzzles aren’t that hard any more since you can switch between them at will (instead of using a font as part of the puzzle).

The enemies fights are easier and hard at the same time. The smaller enemies are way more easier than before. Why? Because now you can knock an enemy up into the air and totally rape them... and with TK, you can seriously wreak some havoc. But the bigger enemies are a pain in the ass, because not only do they do tons of damage, but they also can’t be juggled or TK’ed all over the place. I only died about twice by normal enemies, but even if you did die a lot, you just respawn at your closest checkpoint (Just like before)

Most bosses are easy, but the last three may present some challenge. As I explained before, they are hard because they are cheap, but once you figure out their openings, they are a cake walk.

This is average difficulty among the Legacy of Kain series but there is no difficulty setting to make this game harder... So playing though this game multiple times is only going to make each play through easier and easier.
Average

Control:
The control in this game is nearly flawless. There are no hard combinations to learn and all the combos are done with one buttons. Doing the special moves might take some practice, but you will get used to it. The only flaw is how you enter in and out of combat. When you are like on a ledge and the enemy is above you, you might dash instead of jump... and this will annoy the hell out of you. Other than that, there really isn’t any thing wrong with the control... this jumping could be over came by just double tapping the jump button, but I didn’t know that until I finished the game :)
Outsatnding

Story:
This is without a doubt the strongest part of this game and series alike. If it wasn’t for the great story line, I probably would of never bought this game past Soul Reaver 2. Any ways, I’m going to try and summarize the story of the past games as well, since this game will make hardly any sense at all without previous knowledge.

{Blood Omen 1}There was this guy named Kain. He got murdered and came back as a necrotic vampire. He kills his assassins and finds out that he is the Scion of Balance. Now he chooses to be selfish and not kill him self to save the world. This screwed up everything and he was basically ruling the world. {Soul Reaver 1}Then he brought back Sarafan priests as his servants of his new world. This one Lieutenant of his was named Raziel and evolved before Kain with giant bat like wings. Kain then rips off his wings and orders him to be cast into the abyss. This abyss was endless and made Raziel into a blue and decrepit monster. He gets pulled out of the abyss by this entity known as the Elder God. He tells him to kill Kain and exact his revenge. Will you follow his words and kill all but one of your brothers. Then you finally find Kain and he is playing around with a time streaming device. Now you follow him into this and get warped through time and meet up with the Time Guardian himself... {Soul Reaver 2} Now you get manipulated by so many people and find out all these new things about yourself. You finally discover that the reaver was made for you (Raziel) and you most unlock your destiny.

Now, once this game starts, you are Kain and you are trying to find out answers about a ton of things starting in the Sarafan stronghold. You try and uncover the past and even go to this place called the Vampire Citadel to try and un-earth secrets.

When you are Raziel, you try and escape from the Elder God and find out the true purpose of the Soul Reaver.

It’s hard to explain without ruining a lot about this game’s secrets and all, but trust me, this is a great series.
Outstanding

Visuals:
The Graphics in this game are perfect. Nothing about this game sucks in this area. Everything looks great.

The models are fantastic and well done, Facial features move when your character expresses any type of feeling. Raziel’s soul sucking methods look great and really great.

The backgrounds are exceptional well done. For instants, this “Mansion” you are in... Pictures and murals on every wall. Great halls and architecture. Everything looks great, even the garden in the back of it. The Pillars of Nosgoth look so great and in their awe.

One thing that made the biggest jump has to be the spectral realm. Not only does it look so freaky awesome watching pillar twist and wall bend, but also there is now a intense blurry effect in place. So now it really looks like you are in a spiritual place. The spectral realm in this game is also one of the greatest things I have ever seen in a video game.

Ever since Soul Reaver 2, Legacy of Kain always employed great and revolutionary graphics, this game is no exception.
Outstanding

Audio:
The music in this game is great. The only thing that might piss you off, is that most of the tracks are from previous Legacy of Kain games. I actually like this fact, because when you here the original battle theme when fighting a certain boss, it is just so friggen great. Songs range from eerie and evil instants while in a grave yard or ruins to calm and tranquil notions of the Pillars of Nosgoth.

The effects are also something to behold. Never has slashing at something and putting it in a waver state been so great... because it makes an awesome blood and bone breaking noise. Also, the Soul Reaver sounds so great too. Not only that, it actually changes sounds with each different reaver you use.

The voice acting is incredible, not a single cheesed voice actor. What is great, is that they actually keep the same actors from all the Legacy of Kain games so Kain always sounds like Kain. Any ways, not only does this game have great drama with its voice acting, enemies will say stuff at you while you fight them. Even bosses will make fun of you.
Outstanding

Re playability:
This is the only really bad part about this game. Chances are, once you beat this game, you will probably only replay it once a year or so to remember the story or something. Especially this certain game since there is about eight different forges to imbue the reaver with Raziel... This is annoying the first time through the game... now since I only played this game one time though, I couldn’t imagine how I would be able to do it again. Since there is no reason to play through again, I wouldn’t see why you would... There is no unlockables or anything worth playing through again. The bonus material added to this game is ok, but not something that is worth it... They could of added something worth beating the game again...
Below Average

Pros:
Better combat
Reavers are great
Graphics are flawless
Great story that clears up a ton of unanswered questions

Cons:
No incentive to play through again
The Camera

Rent or Buy:
This game makes a good rental if you don’t really like buying games you are only going to play through once. But if you love the Legacy of Kain series, this is a must buy game.

Final Rating:
I give this game a nice big nine out of ten. True this game has great superficial qualities, like graphics and audio, but the replayability just hurts the score.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/19/03


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