"Great storyline and voice-acting combined with some juicy, blood-sucking sound effects make you want to play the game. I can't guarantee it will be a smooth ride the whole way through, but it's nonetheless worth a trip into the gothic realm of Blood Omen 2."
Since 1996, gamers have been waiting anxiously to regain control of Kain, the all-powerful vampire with a cruel mind and a desperate taste for blood. The Legacy of Kain series brought out the original Blood Omen, but over the last few years, Crystal Dynamics concentrated on releasing Soul Reaver 1&2 rather than bringing out another Blood Omen game. I think it's safe to say that I'm not the only one who's been itching to get a hold of some of Kain's blood-sucking action. Raziel is cool, but controlling a bloodthirsty vampire is always unmatched fun. Finally, Kain has arrived in 3D, and his taste for blood is more desperate than ever!
Crystal Dynamics have set a high standard for themselves by releasing the first two Soul Reaver games with such graphic splendor. Both of the games show-off the PS and PS2's visual power, and everyone expected Blood Omen 2's graphics to match this level of quality...And they don't. Sadly, Blood Omen 2 kind of lacks in terms of visuals. They are not by any means bad, but some very obvious and blaring flaws lessen the overall quality and impression of the graphics. In a sense, Blood Omen 2's graphics do everything you'd expect from a PS2 game. They're just above average in the sense that everything is fairly crisp, clear and detailed. All the weapons, enemies and levels have a generous amount of detail, but aren't extravagant. Kain also changes costumes throughout the game, adding more visual variety. This slightly-above-average visual structure is heightened by a well-designed world, cool-looking characters, and an overall dark mood which ups the visual appeal of the game. Then again, this improved-upon average is diminished by slowdown, clipping problems, dull lighting and sometimes choppy framerate.
You'll be running along, enjoying the game, and then you'll enter a room where information will be loaded from the disc, and you'll experience some skips and slowdown problems. This can also occur in areas where there are lots of polylgons or particles on-screen at once. This really isn't much of an issue, particularly because the loading areas are usually safe places with a save point and no enemies. However, it still needs to be mentioned, because it might irritate some very picky gamers. The clipping and collision problems are other little unpolished portions of the game which we all could have done without. For example, Enemies sometimes drop weapons, and they'll appear part way through the wall, disabling you from picking up this weapon. Other little flaws like this can get annoying, but they don't impact the game-experience greatly.
When it comes down to it, Blood Omen 2's graphics are good, with a nicely-made world and characters, but an array of small-but-noticeable flaws cause the graphics to falter. Most gamers will be able to ignore the clipping glitches, slowdown, choppy animation and admire the game for it's imaginative world and cool, unique style.
For those of you expecting Blood Omen 2 to play like the Soul Reaver games, it doesn't. It uses a completely different engine and gameplay style, which should be noted before purchase. Blood Omen 2 plays a lot like the cliched third-person action game, as you slash your way through 11 fairly straightforward levels, encountering bosses and solving simple puzzles along the way. Of course, this isn't all, but that's the jist of it. Compared to Soul Reaver's more free-roaming, puzzle-based adventure-style gameplay, Blood Omen 2 plays quite a bit different. Sure, some things remain the same, such as the camera angle, the overall battle mechanics and the basic controls, but from anything more than just a glance, you'll be able to see the Blood Omen 2 is clearly a much different game to it's sequels/prequels.
Kain does most things you'd expect from an action character. He can do the usual jump, run, glide, block. attack, plus a few of this own abilities. The most important is sucking blood. After you fell an enemy, Their body will glow red, and by holding down triangle, Kain will suck all their blood out from a distance. Not only does this look cool and is fun to do, but it's also essential for your survival. Kain's health meter is represented by a vial of blood, which constantly depletes itself. Sucking blood will add to your blood meter, and blood will also also fill your lore meter, which acts as an experience-point system. Once your lore meter fills up, Kain's health will increase, thus making him stronger and more battle-worthy.
You can also acquire lore through special chests found throughout the game. Because Kain's blood is constantly being depleted, the whole game is just one long scramble for blood. You'll constantly be feeling the same thirst as Kain does as blood slowly drips from your meter. Every time you see a person, you'll automatically think ''Ah, fresh blood!'' Some might think that this always-dying system would end up being frustrating and annoying, but for the most part, it adds to the experience, helping you to take the role of a vampire in all it's glory.
Kain can pick up a multitude of weapons including axes, swords, clubs or he can just use his claws, which are weak but swift. You can also upgrade your weapons by locating special chests found throughout the game. Enemies are targetted by holding down R1, which will cause Kain to auto-face the nearest enemy. While holding down R1, Kain will enter a battle stance where he will automatically walk instead of run, and he can sidestep to dodge enemy attacks. Unfortunately, battling enemies can get tedious. With only one real attack, most battles will consist of hack-'n-slash tactics. It's also not as easy to control Kain in battle as one would hope. For one, as long as you're auto-facing, you can't jump, which again limits your options during battle. Some of the boss battles are also designed in a way which makes them very difficult, mainly because of the flawed battle system and control.
One of the abilities Kain has which other videogame characters don't have is the ability to use and acquire Dark Gifts. Dark Gifts are supernatural powers which only vampires possess. You start out with two, but you acquire more
five more along the way. These abilities really do vary... Some were clearly made just as triggers you reach in the game to allow you to proceed, while others are actually very useful in battle and gameplay. A good example is the Dark Gift of Mist. Mist allows Kain to transform into mist, blending in with other mist in an area. You can sneak up on enemies this way, and execute stealth kills. Other cool Dark Gifts include Berserk and Fury. However, Dark Gifts don't come freely. Some of them will require your rage meter to fill up a certain amount. This is done by blocking; each time you block, your rage meter increases. Dark Gifts are definitely a cool concept which is kind of a specialty-spell system in disguise.
Compared to Soul Reaver 2's challenging, grand-scale puzzles based on reflecting light, Blood Omen 2's are primitive and straighforward. They're separated into to types: Box puzzles and switch puzzles. Both are fairly self-explanatory. Box puzzles require you to move boxes around into certain places, ultimately giving you access to a new area. Switch puzzles are much the same, but slightly more complex, challenging the player to flip a number of switches in a specific order. I really wish that Crystal Dynamics had gone to a bit more trouble to make the puzzles more original, but at least they don't take up a very large portion of the game.
The Legacy of Kain series is known for it's excellent sound. All of the other three games in the series feature actual voice-actors with some true talent instead of text, and the dialogue is always good. Thankfully, Blood Omen 2 is no different. Kain is acted by the same person as in the other games, and all the new characters are well-acted too. The script is well-written, because it combines the arrogant and proper ''high'', british accent speak of the vampires with the sometimes slang dialect of the townsfolk. Nice aural touches include side-conversations which you can overhear if you sneak up on people, and civilians begging for their life before you drain their blood.
The music isn't exactly amazing, but it gets the job done by offering ambient and spooky background music that sets an appropriate mood for the game. Along with the stellar voice-acting are some impressive sound effects. Clanging weapons, agonizing screams, and that cool, eerie sound Kain makes when he sucks his victim's blood from five feet away. All of this is executed superbly, which makes the game all the more enjoyable. You can tell that Crystal Dynamics really went the extra mile to make the in-game sounds pack a mighty punch.
In the first Blood Omen, Kain is a good, noble knight, who finds himself murdered by an assassin. He then finds himself in hell as a vampire with a thirst for blood. Furious at what he has become, he seeks revenge on his murderer, while maintaining an attitude which is pure evil. He eventually sees vampires as what they are--demi-gods with power far superior to humans. He rises through the ranks of vampires, and becomes a great general. Unfortunately, he is taken by a force greater than his own, and finds himself dead, once again. He is revived by a female vampire, much like himself, and that's where the story of Blood Omen 2 starts. The events take place between Blood Omen and Soul Reaver, which fills in a chronological gap in the series. Kain's sole purpose again is revenge on those who killed him. This is what makes the voyage so fun--The ability to kill pretty much everyone. Even the more challenging characters seem like wusses compared to Kain, not because they're easy in terms of gameplay, but because he's just too evil and godlike to be defeated by them. I won't spoil anything, but I'll say this; if you're not interested in or at least impressed by Blood Omen 2's well-spun, gothic storyline then you might want to re-analyze your definition of coolness. For this game is filled with deceptions, revenge and other gruesome goodies which will definitely not please your mother.
I only wish Kain could control as well as Raziel does. In fact, I'm wondering why they used a different engine for Blood Omen 2--The one they had was working very well. Anyway, whatever the reason, changing the scheme of things wasn't a good idea, because, to say the least, Kain doesn't always do what you want him to do. Right off the bat, you'll notice that the control is loose. Kain turns slowly, walks backwards slowly, and has a hard time jumping from platform to platform. He is the ultimate bastard, in that during battles, his reflexes are slow and his agility is limited. Push the block button and Kain either won't block at all, or he'll wait nearly a second before doing so. The auto-facing system which was used so expertly in Soul Reaver 2 has now been savagely murdered with the new engine. Naturally, the flawed control should not be blown out of proportion, for it doesn't ruin the game by any means, but it certainly is irritating and frustrating.
Like most action/adventure games, Blood Omen 2 is short and leaves you with little to do after you're done. You could play the game again, sure, but that might not satisfy you. Luckily, the game will probably take a good 15 hours to complete, which isn't short. If you really get bored, you can view the ''Bonus Materials'', but unlike in Soul Reaver 2, there's not a whole lot in this section. While Soul Reaver 2's bonus materials featured lots of concept art, stills, a full-script and other goodies, all Blood Omen 2's includes is a few trailers. It's not much, and I think that they could've added a whole lot more to this game, or at least the Bonus Materials.
Blood Omen 2 is a very fun and cool game. Hey, you get to control a mean, blood-sucking vampire who can pick up weapons, use supernatural powers, sneak up on enemies, glide, jump and run. You can kill innocent civilians, just for the cruel sake of drinking their sweet blood! The overall coolness factor of Blood Omen 2 is high. Unfortunately, that conflicts with its flawed graphics, gameplay and control. Simple hack-'n-slash battle system and poor control cause for some bleak and frustrating gameplay, at times. But then again, you return to that coolness factor. Of course being such a cool character is going to have its drawbacks, but it will also have its compliments. Great storyline and voice-acting combined with some juicy, blood-sucking sound effects make you want to play the game. I can't guarantee it will be a smooth ride the whole way through, but it's nonetheless worth a trip into the gothic realm of Blood Omen 2.
Staff review by James Gordon (Date unavailable)
A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.
If you enjoyed this Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!