Review by krammaiii

"Above Average Game Marred By Numerous Glitches"

I just need to flat-out say it; Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2 often plays very similarly to a game that has had little beta-testing, or even play-testing. It's a real shame too, because LOK:BO2 is a pretty decent title as-is when you excuse the repetitive gameplay. Had Eidos delayed it and bunged the multitude of leaks LOK:BO2 could have been great, as oppose to merely good.

PREMISE: 9/10:
You are Kain, a vampire betrayed by his followers and killed in a battle with the Sarafan Lord and results in the loss of your reign of the constantly nocturnal Nosgoth. 200 years after your demise you wake to realization that you have been resurrected by a vampire resistance known as the Cabal. Hesitantly you agree to join them to bring down the Sarafan who are attempting to rid Nosgoth of the vampire race.

I could honestly give LOK:BO2 a 10 just for the interesting level design and of course, the ability to bully meager townsfolk but that would be lame of me. For all it's triumphs LOK:BO2 has some major downfalls that are impossible to overlook.

LOK:BO2 is actually a pretty standard platformer. In fact, one could compare it to Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver - LOK:BO2's quasi-sequel of sorts - effortlessly. Instead of souls to survive a la LOK:SR, an inordinate amount of blood is needed for sustenance which depletes even when Kain is not taking damage. For each victim Kain taps he gains experience which in turn results in the growth of the amount of blood he can possess at once (lengthens his lifebar). Other than that Kain jumps, runs, grabs, push, pulls and floats almost exactly like Razial (see LOK:SR) or Mario for that matter, now that I think about it. The control scheme works wonderfully and Kain will seldom die due to missing a ledge or whatnot. Though, if he is going to die – which is a task considering how easy this game is – he's gonna die in combat....

Kain gets in quite a few scuffles amidst his quest to destroy the Sarafan Lord. You would naturally think that the battle system in LOK:BO2 would be seamless and slightly engaging right? Naturally I wouldn’t blame you for believing so because why the hell wouldn’t it be? Well, you've got me, but “seamless” and “engaging” are not words I would use to describe the brawls in LOK:BO2. Let’s call them “glitchy,” “tedious” and “unexciting” instead! Wow, does that ever make me feel better! Another question if you don’t mind me asking; I would love to know if you have ever been fencing and your blade continually passes through your opponent as if they are some ungodly apparition? If you answered “yes” then you will be right at home hacking and slashing the enemies in LOK:BO2. When you hold the R-Trigger Kain locks onto the nearest enemy and gets into his “attack pose.” Depending on the weapon he has or has not he can pull off a three-hit combo or grab the enemy, which allows him to throw or beat them also. You are guaranteed to connect blows when Kain is unarmed and using his claws, but the minute he has a weapon the collision detection in LOK:BO2 becomes nearly non-existent. Watch Kain's current weapon pass through the enemy doing zero damage or making the enemy even slightly flinch during 95% of all armed fights. Don't get me wrong, the weapons can hit the enemies but they can also randomly pass through them. Near the end of the game I opted to use no weapons because when I was equipped my attacker would pummel me as my sword passed through him. Besides that glaring problem the hand to hand combat in LOK:BO2 grows tiring quickly and of course, there is a great deal of it. Once you’ve mastered blocking and sidestepping you have essentially master the game – most people will have those down by the third level at the latest. Enemy A.I. is non-existent and all can be conquered easily once their patterns become apparent.

Boss battles are interesting and evolve/move areas during the battle 3 or 4 times in which you must discover their weaknesses or patterns in each.

The level design in LOK:BO2 is for the most part very well done, though nowhere near as dynamic and challenging as Soul Reaver’s. Similar to the sequel(s) LOK:BO2 suffers from redundancy in regards to the puzzles. The difficulty and variety of the puzzles doesn’t get interesting until the last two levels. Due to the fact you must gain puzzle-solving techniques called “Dark Gifts” – which can also be used in battle – Kain is stuck with one or two abilities for the first few levels can be fairly droning. Where Soul Reaver was heavy handed on push and pull “block” puzzles, Blood Omen 2 is lever crazy to the point you may mistake this game for Tomb Raider. All the puzzle ideas are novel at first, – possessing a villager is great fun – they wear away their originality very quickly; I swear there is an entire level of “Charming” to solve puzzles and boy does it get old fast.

LOK:BO2 character models are lacking a decent polygon count, but besides that it’s a great looking game. Each level exudes an ample amount of atmosphere with great lighting, scurrying animals and town folk aplenty. Though the texture quality isn’t entirely up to Xbox standards but they are sharp and there is variety throughout the levels.

The cinemas are either in-game with little character movement or poorly animated CG.

SOUND: 8/10
LOK:BO2 has some of the best voice acting I’ve heard in a video game. The musical score on the other hand is quite forgettable but above average, I actually had to boot the game up and listen just to recall.

The sound effects are suiting and implemented quite nicely. In an underground sewer level you hear water rushing by in what I presume to the piping, moans and groans of inmates in the prison level and well, just a general well use of audio.

In most cases stability problems don’t make or break a game. Unfortunately, LOK:BO2 is direly effected by a bad ''bug'' infestation of each and every kind. There is so much to cover! Better yet, does anyone have any questions? Is there horrible clipping? Yes. What about the collision detection? Is that ok? No, you can sometime throw enemies through apparently solid walls, non-Enemy characters can walk through each other and furniture and as I mentioned earlier, combat is severely effected. Well, at least it doesn’t freeze right? You wish. LOK:BO2 can freeze for a number of reasons; falling off a surface and getting caught on the rail can seize the game up; progressive level loading will occasionally ice your Xbox; sometimes it happens randomly so save often. It doesn't happen that often, but really, it shouldn't happen at all.

On the positive side - which is the size of a pinhead – the game loads/saves very quickly.

FINAL: 6/10 Not An Average
While strangely enjoyable and slightly addictive LOK:BO2 is a very average game that some people will absolutely love. If you can look past the massive array of glitches and tired combat, you are in for an interesting adventure with great level design. A well spent 12+ hours if you have the patience.

RENT IT and beat it. It is an easy game and there are no extras to keep you coming back.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 04/02/02, Updated 04/02/02

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