Review by Schraiber
"Amazing story, entertaining gameplay; the best Kain yet."
As one may discern from my review history, I like Legacy of Kain a lot. Probably my favorite series of games, though the recent 2 games were not up to the quality of the first two. This game, in a lot of ways, redeems that.
If you're like me, you wanted this game not so much for the gameplay as for the story. And in my opinion, it delivers. For one thing, it actually answers some questions about the series, and the events of this game make Blood Omen 2 plausible (Fans of the series will know what I'm talking about here). Though some may say it starts slowly, I like the pacing, though, just like Soul Reaver 2, it gets much quicker once the game climaxes. And what a climax it is!
The game is simply beautiful. The new engine has led to much more detailed character models, textures, etc. Not only that, but this time there are real lighting effects and shadows, which really adds to the atmosphere. It's also full of great little details, not the least of which is the (once again) flawless lip sync. Other developers, take note: Crystal D has mastered lip sync and facial animation. It adds a ton to the believability of the incredibly directed and choreographed cutscenes. Another small thing that I like probably more than I should: Raziel's eyes finally glow in game. It's most bad ass to be walking through a shadowy hallway, seeing Raziel's bright white eyes... The combat is fast and looks good, as it should. The enemies are well constructed, but not as well as Raziel and Kain (of course).
However, in the combat lies the main graphical problem, the camera. In this game, Crystal decided to go for an Ico inspired (according to them) camera approach, with a fixed camera. While it works most of the time, adding a cinematic flair to the game and informing you of what to do (this can actually help quite a bit sometimes =P), it comes as a hindrance in combat, when you can't see what the hell is going on, as it decided to show you a wall. However, this isn't all that common, in my experience. Some people complain about the platforming sections being difficult because of the camera, but I didn't have that problem.
Lastly, I guess I should comment on the new look of the spectral realm. I like it a lot. It's a bit of trailing around objects, and some people find it annoying, but I think it greatly enhances the feeling of spectral.
This is a given. Amazing, amazing, amazing voice acting (especially the always awesome Simon Templeman as Kain), fitting sound effects, and music that suits the mood. The spectral realm is now devoid of music, but it has been replaced with some disturbing cries of lost souls. It can genuinely get at you. Oh... and one point during gameplay, a little something Kain said made my day. I'll let you find out for yourself, if you don't already know.
This always seems to be a ''low point'' of my LoK reviews... erm... oh well. Well, this game, as you know, they decided to make combat a much more integral part. That's the most major change in the gameplay. Now the game's combat is handled quite a bit like DMC, and others of what I like to call new-age-beat-em-ups. It is actually very satisfying, mostly because when you're done, you get to suck your victim's blood/devour their soul, which always makes it worth it. Alas, there is a problem, insofar as the lack of combos. You are very limited in your attacking possibilities, I'd like to see a bit more advanced combo system next time around. The puzzles of the game have been toned down a bit... in fact, it's not really proper to say there are puzzles. Maybe, obstacles that need to be passed at some points. The game, being split up between Raziel and Kain, sees Kain getting mostly action, and Raziel getting mostly puzzles, though it is mixed up. Raziel also seems to have the floor for longer than Kain, but this is probably because of his larger number of puzzles. Kain and Raziel are virtually the same character from a gameplay perspective, which is sad. The only difference is the way their special moves are portrayed (They're actually the same moves) and the fact that Raz starts out with far less TK ability than Kain. On that note, TK (telekinesis) is quite fun. Makes you kinda feel like a vampire version of Darth Vader, which is always awesome. Nothing is more satisfying than tossing a few Sarafan off a bridge!
The main problems with the gameplay stem from the combat, as it gets kind of repetitive after a while (though it is always pretty damned fun), especially while fighting the statues, and the frustration that may come from some of Raziel's puzzles, though they all have relatively simple solutions, in hind sight.
The controls work well. Think DMC, and there you have it. Never had a problem.
As before, this game is quite short. Now, though its fun, for a lot of people, the shortness will mean it doesn't warrant a buy. I finished it in 3 days of playing all day (The final game clock was about 11 hours and 20 minutes). There are extras, but they're merely unlocked by beating the game, and thus it has no replay value except for playing through it again. And play through it again I shall. As a rabid Kain fan, how can I not? Therefore: If you're a Kain fan, buy it. You'll love it. And you can play again, which you probably will want to do. If you're not, rent it, you'll probably beat it before it's due back. Overall, an excellent game. Here's to hoping the next one is longer!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/16/03
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