Review by The Amalgamut

"Could have been better....."

This sequel has no aesthetic resemblance to Blood Omen, the 2D-overhead-view RPG that was its predecessor, but the narrative will be familiar to fans. I doubt many people have played the original Blood Omen, as it was a relatively obscure game until the spin-off Soul Reaver came out. But now the Legacy of Kain series seems to be getting very popular, so a sequel to the game that started it all was probably inevitable. For those unfamiliar with the series, the best place to start isn’t here; I recommend playing the original Soul Reaver first.

This game continues the story of Kain, a powerful vampire who, after the events of the first Blood Omen game, became the commander of an army of vampires whose intent was ruling the land of Nosgoth. In an epic battle, Kain was defeated by the vampire’s adversaries, the Sarafan, and more specifically, by their leader, the Sarafan Lord. Kain was though to be dead, but he lived and has been in a comatose state for about 200 years. At the start of the game, he wakes up and sets out to reclaim his power over Nosgoth, and to get revenge on the Sarafan Lord. The story is more complicated and gets more intricate, but that’s the basic premise. The plot has some interesting developments in it, and some nice twists along the way. The strength of this game lies in its story.

Here’s where things go downhill… The gameplay in Blood Omen 2 is very restrictive and linear. After you get your mission and watch some cut-scenes, you go through the redundant process of killing enemies and pulling levers. The only kinds of puzzles in the game involve the pulling or turning of levers, and it gets old pretty quick. The puzzles are mind-numbingly easy too, and since they provide no challenge, they just become an annoyance. Combat gets repetitive after awhile also, but you can use a variety of different weapons at least. You also acquire “dark gifts” throughout the game, that let you perform several different supernatural abilities, like turning into mist, leaping great distances in a single bound, controlling people’s minds, setting people on fire through telekinesis (or whatever…), etc. Those things sound pretty cool, and they are…at first, anyway. Like so many other aspects of the game, the “dark gifts” get repetitive after awhile. For example, using the mind-control is initially fun, but after you do it 100 times it loses its appeal. The so-called “puzzles” are uninspired and annoying, and the combat gets repetitive; so what else is there to do? Well, the only thing you can do in Blood Omen 2 is follow the set path, which requires you to perform the same things over and over again; there are no side-quests, secret missions, mini-games, alternate routes, or anything to hold your interest once you get used to the game. In short, the gameplay is weak.

Graphics and Sound:
The visual style in this game is great, as per usual in the LoK series. The environments have a cool gothic flair, and the architecture is very nicely designed. There is an overabundance of medieval-style locales though; some of the levels look too similar. The graphics serve their purpose, but not much else; they aren’t all that bad, but they aren’t all that great either. The characters move in an awkward manner, and most of all them look ridiculously cartoony (the character Vorador is especially goofy looking). There are numerous technical glitches as well, like the game needed any more sloppy aspects to it. The voice acting is great though, which is what one expects from this series. The music wasn’t particularly outstanding, though I wouldn’t say it was bad; the same goes for the sound. All in all, with the exception of the voice acting, everything in the graphics and sound department seems rushed…

I’d say Blood Omen 2 is for Legacy of Kain fans only, and those fans shouldn’t be expecting too much out of it. It’s a relatively short game that doesn’t provide much challenge, and there is little or no replay value. Once you beat the game, there is no reason to go back and play it again; there are no secrets, no bonuses, or no alternate endings. There are numerous annoying aspects, like the repetitiveness, the technical glitches, the inability to skip the cut-scenes, and the feeling that the whole thing could have been a lot better if they spent more time on it. On the plus side, the story and voice acting are great, and playing as Kain is pretty damn cool. Overall, I’d say that if you’re not a fan and you’re looking for an action/adventure game, you might want to look somewhere else. But if you are a fan, the game is enjoyable despite its flaws, and it can be picked up relatively cheap now. Just don’t go into it expecting something grand or epic (which is what one would usually expect from this series).

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 07/07/03, Updated 07/07/03

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