Review by GodDogs

"Defy Your Destiny in Legacy of Kain: Defiance"

Legacy of Kain Defiance is the 5th installment in the Legacy of Kain series, starting with Blood Omen, Blood Omen 2, Soul Reaver, and Soul Reaver 2...Defiance picks up roughly where Soul Reaver 2 left off, although it is not necessary to play all 4 previous games to get a grasp on Defiance. In the Blood Omen series, you controlled the vampire Kain, and in the Soul Reaver series, you controlled the vampire-turned-wraith Raziel. In Defiance, both come together for the very first time as controllable characters.

But the last two installments, Soul Reaver 2 and Blood Omen 2, were very very lacking. Does Defiance redeem Eidos and Crystal Dynamics at long last? Yes. Yes it does and by a long shot.

Story: 10/10

I'm not going to give away any spoilers, but the story of Defiance finally sums up almost every loose end that the other games created, and then some! It is a very engripping story that will have you guessing until its very climax. Some new and old faces will be returning as well as that wonderful dialogue that keeps this game alive with character. And unlike the previous two Soul Reaver installments, Defiance has an actual final ending - no ''to be continued'' nonsense as seen in the last ones. However, that doesn't mean the series ends with Defiance, for there very well could be another game. The story in Defiance is absolutely wonderful. Twists and turns where you never expected them, character and plot development is done marvellously. Your jaw will drop as the story unfolds before your very eyes. It answers most, but not all, questions raised by previous installments.

Gameplay: 9/10

The fighting engine has had a massive upgrade, and that is a very very good thing. The fighting is very fast paced now, and you can battle multiple enemies at once. It is very much like the combat found in Devil May Cry, although not as polished as DMC, it is damn close. You can juggle your enemies as well and perform lots of different combos and techniques. Kain and Raziel both wield one weapon - the reaver blade (different incarnations), but you can enhance them with magical auras that each have their own ability and spell effects. It is really quite amazing.

Another enhancement to the combat is the TK (telekinetic) system. You can pick up your enemies using TK and throw them onto spikes or torches to burn them. Push them and fling them around like a rag doll. It makes you feel like a bad ass, as it should - for Kain and Raziel are bad ass!

Another element is the puzzles. The puzzles have had a massive face lift as well. There are hardly any ''block puzzles'' that were so very monotonous in Soul Reaver one, there aren't any ''flip the switch and follow the glow'' found in Blood Omen 2. Instead, there are breakable walls and objects that reveal new rooms, or ''lock and key'' type of puzzles. You can als retrieve artifacts that will increase your TK meter and life meter.

One unique aspect to Defiance is the fact that you have to feed both yourself and your weapon. Kain and his Reaver sword feed from blood, while Raziel and his sword feed from souls of your conquered foes. This aspect is done wonderfully and never grows tedious.

There are also bosses in Defiance. Unlike previous installments however, they are much more combat oriented than puzzle oriented. The bosses are amazing, especially the ones towards the ending.

The gameplay is remarkable. It's so much different, and much, much better than all of the other Legacy of Kain games! This game is loads of fun, you'll have trouble trying to put down the controller.

Camera: 7/10

There is only one thing hampering down the gameplay, and that is the camera. The company tried to make the camera much like that of Ico, which is place camera setup. For the most part, it works pretty good. However, too many times you'll find yourself having to ''babysit'' the camera during fight scenes. Often times you'll be fighting something that you can't even see. Or there will be something in the forground that is blocking your view. In most games, that object would become invisible, but this is not the case in Defiance. Although not a huge deal, it happens often enough to take notice of it. And nobody has to like to work for the camera - it should work for you.

Sound/Audio: 10/10

The music is amazing, except that it's just a music from the previous Soul Reaver games, so it's really nothing new to your ears. But the music in the Soul Reaver games were magnificent and they work great for Defiance, setting the tone and mood perfectly. And like in all Legacy of Kain games, the voice acting is absolutely wonderful.

Graphics: 9/10

The graphics of Defiance are superb! Such rich and beautiful environments. The scenery is magnificent! Character models never looked so lifelike before, and unlike some other games on the PS2, they don't look all cartoony. Instead they look dark, and gothic-esque, and really great. The only thing hampering down the graphics is the framerate. A lot of the times, when youre by yourself the frame rate slows down a lot, even during cutscenes. It's actually kind of ridiculous sometimes. You can have a scene with loads of enemies around and the framerate would be much better than say, when your just walking around by yourself. This is a less than often occurance, but it still happens.

Replayability: 6/10

Once you beat Defiance, there's not much reason to play again very soon. There are some artifacts to get though that will unlock some behind the scenes and special concept art in the gallery though.

Final Thoughts

This is, by far, the best Legacy of Kain game to date. For fans of the series, you will not be disappointed and this is a must buy. For casual gamers, I think you're in for a pleasant surprise and might become a Legacy of Kain fan after playing this game. Even though this is the 5th game, do not be intimidated by that, because you don't have to play the other games to understand this game. It explains much of the past through cutscenes and what not.

The only thing hampering down this game from a near perfect score is the unpolished camera problems, and the framerate issues. Other than that, I'd rate Defiance a 9.4. This is a very good game that's a lot of fun. Eidos and Crystal Dynamics have redeemed themselves from their streak of less than average games of the past. Whether you rent or buy, this game will not disappoint you.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/16/03

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