Review by Drakan

"The first weak link in the Legacy of Kain series, but it's not a weak game..."

Introduction
I have been a strong fan of the Legacy of Kain Series of games since Blood Omen came out. That game was marred by long loading times, and a sometimes frustrating battle system, but the driving feature had to be the story. I put aside any problems that I had with the game, and just played to find out with happened next. Next in the series came Soul Reaver, which took a different view on the events, and a different style of gameplay, but keeping the same addictive storyline. After a few years, they released Soul Reaver 2, which I must admit was the highpoint of the Kain series for me. With all of the extras, I really got into the whole world, and you started realizing things that you misunderstood in the previous games.

So it was with great anticipation that I picked up Blood Omen 2. Would it live up to the previous benchmarks set for it? Would it encapture me for days as it's predecessors had done? Would it be good? Well, read on, fellow vampires, read on...

Story
Once again, you get to control the Vampire Kain. You find out that he was the lord of all the vampires, but there was an uprising. A group of humans called the Saraphim came up against the vampires, and at a huge battle between the 2 races, Kain is killed by the Saraphim leader. Needless to say that the vampires are all but wiped out, and are persecuted and slaughtered throughout the years. But Kain did not die. Years into the future, he is revived, and he wants revenge. This is where you come in.

I was rather disappointed in this aspect of the game, as it was the main factor behind my fondness for rest of the series. In the other games, you go from place to place, discovering more and more about the world and what has transpired. But Blood Omen 2, you just feel as if there is not much being developed, especially early on in the first couple of missions. It does improve later on, but some people might have given up on it by that time. You kind of get the feeling that you are just going on missions with no point to them. And after the great and intriguing introduction, it is quite a let down. But there is still enough lore in the Old Nosgoth to keep this fan hooked to it. So after crawling through the first few missions, you will be rewarded.

Graphics
Aah yes. The dark world of Nosgoth during Kain's time. Blood Omen 2 takes a different approach than the original, as all action takes place in a 3rd person perspective, rather than looking down on Kain from he top. They learnt from their mistakes and the success of the 2 Soul Reaver games. It is a very atmospheric world, and the tall dark buildings seem very vampirish (for lack of a better word). The character models are good, with Kain and his companions looking very good indeed. Some of the lesser people throughout the world aren't quite as detailed, but who cares, all you need is their blood. Speaking of which, the blood sucking sequence looks terrific. When Kain wipes his mouth and the blood drips from his hand, you get a chill running down your back. Animation is really smooth and everything moves very fluidly. There are some niggles, such as sub-par textures and the fact that a lot of buildings look the same, but all-in-all, a good job.

Sound & Music
Whether it's the cracking of chest, or the clinking of steel as swords clash, the sounds emanating from the game are all top notch. Just about everything sounds good. You can hear footsteps clearly, and they change from the gentle tread of a chamber maid, to the mighty steps of a heavily armoured guard. You can also overhear what people on the streets are talking about, and they have quite a lot to say.

The music is almost non-existent, which was quite a shock to me, as the rest of the series is really atmospheric. But there is hardly any of it in this game. It almost seems as if they've left it out. Every now and again, it does play, and it does sound good. But there just isn't enough of it.

Gameplay
The gameplay feels rather repetitive. Most of the time, the puzzle solving just requires you to flip a switch to open a door. There really isn't that much too it. Of course it does get a bit harder than that later on, the puzzle solving never gets impossibly difficult, and there just isn't enough variety in the puzzles to keep you interested.

The thing that will keep you interested, however, is the different abilities that Kain has at his disposal. As you progress, you will learn new abilities, which will make you stronger and faster, and more vampiric. The fighting system featured isn't anything revolutionary. Fight with your hands, or a weapon dropped by one of your opponents, and then block their attacks and counter them. There isn't much to it, but it is handled quite well. Then you get Kain's special abilities, the likes of which only a vampire could possess. You get jumping, turning into mist (very handy for stealth and lets you perform stealth kills), and mind control are only a few of the many skills that you learn as you make your way through Nosgoth.

The control is average. Turning can be quite horrendous, especially when you are fighting, but the ''always face enemy'' feature comes in handy here. The abilities are easy to use, and jumping around is relatively easy.

Port Comparison
The PS2's version is a bit jagged, and doesn't have that clear crisp look, that the Xbox version does. Every other aspect is just about the same, but the graphics once again, puts this game in favour of the Xbox.

Continuity
Not much to this I'm afraid. Just like every single other game in the Legacy of Kain series, you probably won't want to play this again after you've completed it. But the excellence of the story overshadows this.

Conclusion
Blood Omen 2 is the worst game in the series so far, but still manages to be a fun and enjoyable game with a good story (if you can make it past the first few missions). If you are into the dark side of things and enjoy the site of blood being drained from innocent people by a thirsty vampire then pick it up quickly. Also highly recommended for all followers of the entire series. If you are new to it, however, don't begin your playing over here. And for all of you who just want to play an action/adventure game, rent it.

Ratings:
Story : 8/10
Graphics : 8/10
Sound & Music : 7/10
Gameplay : 7/10
Continuity : 6/10

Port Comparison : Xbox

Total : 7/10


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 05/30/02, Updated 05/30/02


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