Review by MYellott

"A great story plagued by bugs"

I waited for a very long time for this game. I'm a huge fan of the series and, as such, I was all hyped up about this game when it first came out. I knew I had to wait a little bit before finally giving it a review. After the let down of Soul Reaver 2's boring gameplay I was hoping this could turn it around and it was just a one time fluke. In short, I was wrong...

Gameplay: (4/10)
I'll tell you right off, this game get's very repetitive very fast. The concept of being the coolest vampire around is fun for maybe the first 4 chapters, but after that it is only your devotion to the series or the great story line driving you towards the end. The difficulty curve is rather easy. If you find the game easy in the beginning, you will find it just as easy at the end. The enemy AI is bad, having you constantly doing the same moves (block, block, attack, repeat) until you become so bored you would rather just run by an enemy than attack them. Fighting enemies wouldn't be as frustrating if it wasn't for the bad controls. Kain is generally unresponsive to moves and it takes a while for you to wind up an attack or even dodge. The camera isn't bad from what I've noticed. Generally it stays in a pretty good spot right behind Kain, unlike so many other games with terrible camera systems.

What really brings the fun factor down are the bugs and glitches. Such bugs as if you max out your ''lore,'' a type of experience that raises Kain's maximum life, to a point that the life bar extends beyond the screen the game starts to flip out. Kain's health will rapidly change from full to just 1 hit away from death. This really ruins the game for anyone that doesn't know this and has worked hard to get lots of lore. I can't belive they didn't test for this!? However, most bugs fall under the audio/visual section...

Story: (9/10)
The Legacy of Kain series is renowned for it's story, and this game (almost) fully delivers to it's fan-based audience. Newcomers to the series will be able to understand the story; however, they won't have any idea the significance of some of the plot. You play as Kain, a vampire on a conquest for the land of Nosgoth. In the beginning, Kain gathers an army of vampires and attacks the city of Meridian; however, a new leader of the humans, the Sarafan Lord, intercepts and kills Kain. Now, hundreds of years later, Kain is resurrected and must destroy the Sarafan Lord. The plot, of course, is much more in-depth than that but you get the idea. The only reason this section does not get full marks is due to the lack of explanation of certain points, such as how Vorador (another vampire) magically appears after being executed long ago. Big plot hole if you ask me (and cheap gimmick to get people to play).

Audio/Video: (6/10)
If this one area was focused and tested more this game would have been a 9 in my book, despite the boring gameplay. However, this game is plagued by constant glitches in the audio/video department. For instance, in cut scenes the dialogue will be incredibly low, to the point that you can't hear it, while the ambient noise of, say, water is so incredibly loud you almost wonder how the testers _couldn't_ find this on even one session of play. Not only that, but if Kain is ever holding a weapon, such as a broad sword, the sword will usually end up going through him in a cut scene, such as his shoulder, to produce a mild laughter from the player before realizing it isn't intentional. I mean, come on, how could they miss these huge things!? If you ignore these glitches this aspect is nearly flawless. Absolutely perfect voice acting from the original cast of the Legacy of Kain series all return to add such depth and mood to the game it is hard to rival. The graphics are a bit better on the X-Box version than the PS2 (as is the number of glitches and slowdown, I've heard) but aren't a step up from the original Soul Reaver.

Replayability: (2/10)
I only gave this is a 2 because you _might_ want to go back through the game if you didn't listen to the enemy conversations all the way through or if you didn't get all of the lore coffers. You also might want to play again on the harder blocking difficulty, although I don't think it will keep your interest past the first chapters. Once you beat it there is nothing more to it. There are no side-quests, no alternate routes. It is, in fact, the most linear of all of the Legacy of Kain games to date.

Buy or rent:
If you aren't a fan- rent. If you are then odds are you've already bought this game and, like me, you're still happy because you are a devoted fan. This game will take maybe 3 days for the typical player to beat and after that you won't want to pick it up for a looooong time.

Final Thoughts:
If only... seems to be a trend with this game. Although it delivers with the excellent story, it sadly falls short due to the (yes, I'm going to say it again) constant bugs and glitches (not to mention repetitive gameplay). I was absolutely puzzled how they could have missed such things. If game companies have learned anything over the last 5 years, it is to never push the release of a game. Making a deadline is not more important to the gaming community than a good game. Look at any Blizzard title! I don't think a single game of theirs has ever made it's initial deadline, and we've forgiven them when they deliver on the awesome game. I think people would have forgiven the bad gameplay if it wasn't highlighted by the bugs that made it just that much worse.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 06/18/02, Updated 09/19/02

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