Legacy of Kain: Defiance (Xbox) review
"The Blood Omen/Legacy of Kain series of games is, at best, a mixed bag of tricks. Everything started off well with the first Blood Omen game. A rescently bitten Kain is striken with vampirism, and goes on a merry quest to lovingly impale those that cursed him. It played out like an adult version of Zelda. The adventure carried action, fair graphics (for it's time) and an intriguing storyline. Afterwards we're introduced to Raziel. Raziel was one of Kain's vampire lieutenants whom served under hi..."
The Blood Omen/Legacy of Kain series of games is, at best, a mixed bag of tricks. Everything started off well with the first Blood Omen game. A rescently bitten Kain is striken with vampirism, and goes on a merry quest to lovingly impale those that cursed him. It played out like an adult version of Zelda. The adventure carried action, fair graphics (for it's time) and an intriguing storyline. Afterwards we're introduced to Raziel. Raziel was one of Kain's vampire lieutenants whom served under him after the first game. Raziel had the bad luck to ''evolve'' before his master Kain, sprouting wings. As a reward for his trechery, Kain rips Raziel's wings from him and casts him off a cliff into a swirling vortex of water. Not only is water like acid to vampires, but Raziel is also a poor swimmer and left his floaties at home that day. He is surely screwed. Yet, some time later, with a disfigured body and half of his face missing, Raziel awakens in the spirit world. He's alive (sort of), well (kind of) and he's dead (pun intended) set upon taking revenge. Sadly, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver turned out to be a poor adventure in comparison to Kain's origional journey. Two Soul Reaver games came about before Kain was given the spotlight once again. Blood Omen 2 was a beat-em-up at heart with over-the-top gore and stealth kills out the wazoo. It was a game that suited the protagonist Kain but was only slightly above-average at best. Now, with Defiance, it appears that things have come full circle. Kain and Raziel are brought together in the same game and you're given full control of both of these demonic protagonists.
Does this work out in the end? Short answer; no. Let me come right out and tell you that the best part of this game is easily the story. Though the story is clever and has plenty of twists in it, you might not want to wade through the horrid gameplay just to find out what happens to Kain and Raziel in the end. Assisting some wonderful storytelling is fantastic voice acting, a trademark of the series of games. Since the first Blood Omen game Kain and friends have been represented by fantastic voice actors that really put thier heart and soul into thier work. Luckily, as a bonus, after beating the game you're rewarded by being able to see said actors in the recording booth doing lines of diolague. A nifty extra, indeed. You're also welcome to replay your favorite cutscenes after you've witnessed them, something that I'd like to see in more games to come.
I can never get enough of hearing Kain shout ''Vae Victus!'', but I've had it up to my eyeballs with the same vampire hunters shouting the same lines over and over again. It's sad that the only good audio comes in the form of the voices of the major characters. The cheesy lines delivered by the repeditive baddies you slaughter are annoying as all hell. Compounding on this is the fact that the music in the game is so forgettable it's almost non-existant. Look to games like Beyond Good and Evil of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind for music that enhances the mood and the feel of the game as you play it. The tunes in Defiance simply fade into the background.
Lackluster music, however, is the least of this games concerns. Most of the problems arise in the gameplay department. Despite the long list of testers in the credits at the end of the game, I'm fairly certian none of those people have played the game before. Surely, they spent thier time playing Yahtzee and picking thier noses. Defiance suffers from a simply unforgiveable camera that's even harder on you than the foes you mow down. About eighty percent of the time you'll be unable to see either your character or the beasties looming over him. You'll be pummeled by offscreen foes as you struggle to get the wretched camera to work with you, instead of against you. That's just the tip of the iceberg though, as the enemies you face respawn constantly and are simply there to annoy the hell out of you. You may finish off one vampire hunter only to see him reappear about two inches next to you out of thin air. Talk about shattering the illusion. Enemies can trap you and beat on you before you have a chance to recover, they'll pelt you from afar with bombs and bows while you take on thier friends, and they'll cast spells on eachother to enhance thier defense or offense. Yet, somehow, they all choose to stand and watch as you lift one of thier friends into the air and proceede to chew his/her throat out or devour his/her very soul for sustinance. How polite of them. By doing battle with your foes you gain ''Combat EXP'' and unlock new moves with which you can pummel your enemies. However, Kain and Raziel share the exact same moves simply with different names. You also learn all the moves rather quickly and once you do there's almost no reason to fight foes unless you're forced to, or you are low on health. You can also pick up and fling your enemies with telekenetic powers, but that quickly grows boring. You can toss the baddies off the occasional cliff or onto a spike or two, but these objects so rarely make an appearance it's somewhat worthless unless you need to give yourself some more breathing room.
Defiance is dealt yet another blow in the graphics department. While Kain, Raziel and the major players look descent enough, most of the enviroments they shamble through are bland and devoid of creativity. Save for Vorador's Mansion the rest of the game is devoid of anything fun to waltz through. Most of the game will be spent guiding Kain and Raziel through the exact same Vampire Sanctuaries which all are nearly identical to one another. Take bland enviroments, lackluster and repeditive combat and add in a dash of terrible AI and a poor camera and you have Defiance. Not only that but the game also has it's share of glitches. More than once has the game frozen up on me. The enemies and Kain/Raziel will end up getting ''caught'' in pieces of the enviroment countless times and there's more clipping than should be necissary in any game on any system. As I said before, if it wasn't for the story and the wonderful voice work done by the actors, I wouldn't have bothered to play through the entire game. I highly advise you stay away from Defiance as much as possible. If I learned one thing by playing through this steaming pile it's that an intriguing storyline does not make up for poor gameplay, but excellent gameplay can sometimes make up for a poor story
Community review by kramerica (March 06, 2004)
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