Review by Schraiber
"I liked it... but then again, I'm a huge fan of LoK"
It took a while for there to be a proper sequel to Blood Omen. We had Soul Reaver, then Soul Reaver 2, but neither really gave us that feeling we had in Blood Omen, as Kain, the vampire. Kain is quite possibly one of the most fun characters to play as, not just because of the premise of being a vampire, but also because he's so well thought out and acted. Anyway, on with the review. This starts 400 years after Blood Omen, and a good millennium before Soul Reaver, and you're put in the shoes of Kain, just waking from a coma...
This is obviously a port of a Playstation 2 game. While for a Playstation 2 game, it's pretty, for an XBox game, it's definitely lacking. First of all, I don't notice any pretty bump mapping effects we like so much in XBox games. Also, the textures are pretty simple, though they are sharp. The main character models I liked, especially Kain's. I really thought Kain looked good in every costume. Unfortunately, the peasants... they looked pretty bad. The animation in the game was somewhat interesting. It seemed somewhat robotic, but I still liked it, especially the blocking, which always looked cool. The blood sucking effect was really well done too. It has to be seen to be truly appreciated.
Really, the sound I didn't notice. The music always seemed fitting, and indeed in the final chapters, it was creeping me out. The sound effects got the job done, too. What mainly caused me to give it this rating was the voice acting, which, as is typical in the LoK series, is phenomenal. Especially Kain. Kain's voice acting is so damn good, it never ceases to put me in awe. The other characters are acted well, though not to the same degree as Kain. Unfortunately, some of the cutscenes have a little problem with the ambient sound being too high and you can't hear what the characters are saying. Oh well. I found those cutscenes to be few and far between.
The controls are Tomb Raider-like, as opposed to the free roaming of the other LoK games. Sometimes I had just a bit of trouble making Kain turn while running, but the over all exploration controls worked fine. In battle mode, they say Kain has super-human-speed. Well, he doesn't. The battles are rather slow, and instead of dodging, you press the left trigger in conjunction with an enemy attack to block it. At first, this is kinda hard, but once you get it down, it's strangely satisfying. Attacking is somewhat slow too, and you might be stuck in the middle of an attack with no way to cancel some times.
The exploration and puzzle bits were okay, and some of the puzzles, especially near the end, using the dark gifts you had acquired along the game, were very good. The dark gifts, which were powers you get by defeating bosses, were all pretty good, and useful. The bosses themselves seemed reminiscent of Soul Reaver, in that they were kind of puzzle based at some points, but over all, they were just attacking. The battle system of the game is very repetitious. Especially near the end, which turns into a block, block, block, block, block, immolate fest. There are some parts of the game where you can use stealth, by using the mist gift, and there are some very cool stealth kills, including a heart rip. All in all, it's pretty satisfying, though it can get repetitious.
This is the reason I played the game. I'm an LoK freak, and I would play any LoK game, no matter how bad, just for the story. This game gets a little weird in the story department, but I still like it. For full effect, it's best to play the games in the order in which they were released, Blood Omen, Soul Reaver, Soul Reaver 2, Blood Omen 2. It fits much better. Although the story starts off somewhat plainly, by the end we're probing again into the depths of Nosgoth's past, and ever more is being revealed about the purpose of the vampires in the world. Solid.
I liked it a lot, because I'm a fanatic. I'm sure some-non-fanatics could like it to, and I recommend at least checking it out. Kain remains just as bad ass as ever.
Buy or Rent: Kain fanatic: Buy. Average person: Rent
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/18/02, Updated 06/18/02
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