Review by FFrulz2000

"Does sneaking up behind a helpless victim who is clueless to your presence and decapitating them while you're hidden in a cloak of mist sound fun?"

For most people, the answer to that question is a definitive yes. This among other similar concepts is what Blood Omen 2 offers. This is a game where you control a powerful vampire known as Kain. He is neither hero nor anti-hero, but he is one thing, and that is evil.

The stage is set 200 years after the events of Legacy of Kain : Blood Omen, and 1000 years before the events of Legacy of Kain : Soul Reaver in a land known as Nosgoth. Kain has lost his armies and his beloved Soul Reaver centuries ago at the hands of the Sarafan and the Sarafan Lord. Kain was defeated and was thought to be dead, but only laying dormant. Alas, 200 years later he was awaken by the vampire resistance known as the Cabal lead by the legendary Vorador. They need Kain's help to defeat the Sarafan Lord, who promises to rid the city of Meridia of all vampires. However, Kain has only known life as a dictator, so is he really committed to the Cabal?

The Sarafan are an elite group of human warriors strictly against the vampires and the Sarafan Lord is their supreme leader, however his true motives are unknown...

That is the interesting backstory to Blood Omen 2. Over the course of the game, the plot will unfold through 11 enormous levels filled with puzzles and enemies.

The actual gameplay of Blood Omen 2 is actually quite weak and overly simplistic. What saves it from being boring is the shear coolness factor of it. Come on, you're a freakin vampire. You can do many twistedly evil things to mutilate your opponents.

The combat is basically a block and counter system. By holding R, you enter combat mode and zero in on your opponent. While doing this, you now move directly around your opponent and will always face him/her. Usually just striking at an opponent with your basic combo will result in your attack being blocked (this is much more noticeable in later levels) so you basically just hold the L trigger and wait for your opponents flurry of attacks to come to pass, and then unleash your own.

Another aspect of the combat is grabbing. As a vampire, you possess incredible strength so one-armed choke-holding even the most massive opponents is easy. In this state you are free to punish your opponent further by pressing X and initiating a weak attack but still keep him/her in your grasp, pressing up + X and initiating a strong attack (with swords and grand swords, this is either an impalement or decapitation =))which knocks your opponent out of your grasp, or by pressing Y and hurling your opponent into the distance.

By far the most interesting (and coolest) aspect of combat comes with your Dark Gifts. These gifts (that only vampires possess) allow you to do superhuman things. You can jump massive distances and either land normally or land on top of an enemy, issuing a devastating blow. You can invade a non-violent being's mind and basically possess them for a limited amount of time. You can use telekinetic powers on enemies or distant switches. There are also 3 combat aligned Dark Gifts. These gifts allow you to take control in a struggle of a fight in an instant. Being bullied? Knock your enemy into tomorrow with a powerful Fury strike. Getting pummeled? Unleash a devastating cluster of attacks with Berserk. Or you can just flat out torch your enemy into a fleshy candle, instantly killing them, with Immolate. Oh and, best of all, you can go near invisible and sneak up behind unsuspecting targets and unleash a brutal stealth kill, one of the games coolest aspects.

After you've tortured your opponent enough to have them beg for their life just before they hit the floor permanently, you then need to replenish yourself right? After all, a vampire needs to keep his strength up! Once your opponent is down for good (oh and with the abilities you have they will be down a lot!) you can then demonically suck their blood to replenish your life and increase your lore meter. This meter when filled will increase your maximum health capacity.

Another interesting thing to note is that throughout Nosgoth you will meet a vast variety of enemies who may or may not carry different forms of weaponry. When you slay them, you can take their weapon to use as your own. Some of these weapons are extremely powerful and give you the ability to impale and decapitate your enemies, the latter instantly killing the enemy no matter how strong he/she is. You can find all sorts of weaponry including swords, axes, maces, and grand swords. The only real downside to this is that after a short time the weapon will break leaving you with just your claws again.

Along with all the fighting you will also be solving various puzzles meant to impede your progress. Some of them prove quite challenging and some seem ridiculously unnecessary.

Graphically, Blood Omen 2 is hauntingly beautiful. The 11 enormous chapters of the game look like a gothic nightmare. It almost seems similar to a more haunting version of levels in Max Payne. The first few chapters are similar in level design, a large cityscape with a very dark tone, while in later chapters the environments will change...drastically...Basically you can expect a visual treat.

The sound is decent in Blood Omen 2. I found the voice acting to be superb. The sound effects are also well done and effective, but nothing really out of the ordinary...well..except for the screaming and howling of the townsfolk as they watch in agony as you bear down upon their mortal souls....The only odd thing is how every NPC (non playable character) sounds exactly alike.

As for the things that bothered me about this game, well, there is a decent amount of stuff I feel needed work. For one thing, the hit detection just flat out sucks. Also, some of the puzzles as I stated before feel completely unnecessary and are often very tedious and annoying. Shouldn't puzzles be perplexing and fun not frustrating and stupid? I thought so too. Another serious gripe is how when you're surrounded by enemies, the ones you don't have targeted just stand there and watch you pummel the one you have targeted. However, I can see why this is so because the way the combat was, if you had everyone beating on you at once you wouldn't survive and that's a good reason, but it certainly doesn't say much about the combat. Also, at about the 9th level, I just began to get flat out bored with this game. By then, the coolness factor had begun to wear off, and the repetitiveness begun to set in. I felt like the game should have been ending at the end of the 9th chapter, instead I actually felt annoyed that I still had 2 to go. Definitely not a good thing.

Overall, Legacy of Kain has to be one of the coolest games out there. Kain truly is a badarse in every sense of the word. Seeing some of the things that can be done to enemies for the first time had me numb with excitement and adrenaline. If it wasn't for a rather crappy combat system(excluding Dark Gifts of course) and some other minor problems, (explained above) then I could truly say this was one heck of a game. Unfortunately all I can say is that it is one of the darkest and undeniably sweetest games out there, but certainly not one of the best.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 07/23/02, Updated 07/23/02

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