Blood Omen 2
Game Info
PS2, GC, Xbox
Crystal Dynamics
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Gore, Violence
The Good

• Graphics convey a great dark atmosphere
• Voice Acting is excellent
• Story is well written

The Bad

• Minor Glitches (sound skipping, occasional slowdown)
• Save System


Blood Omen 2
is the fourth game in the Legacy of Kain series, but it's story takes place after the settings of the first game, 400 years after to be precise. After destroying the Pillars at the end of Blood Omen, Kain proceeded to amass a vampire army to rule over Nosgoth. At the same time, a fanatical group of warriors called the Sarafan were formed to wipe out the vampire threat. Kain underestimated their abilities, and was defeated in battle by the Sarafan lord and thrown off a cliff, presumed dead. Members of his army saved Kain however, they brought him back from the brink of death and nursed him back to health. Kain awakens from a 200-year slumber to find that he has lost most of his memories and former powers, and the Sarafan now rule the land. Vampires have been hunted almost to extinction, and Kain is their last hope to regain their former domination over the land. Since he is presumed dead by everyone, he is the perfect agent for the Cabal, the vampire resistance, to find the Sarafan's weakness and defeat them. Thus the story begins.

The Legacy of Kain series has always been quite good graphically, and while this installment doesn't look much better than previous games, it doesn't disappoint either. The slums of the cities look run down, with doors and windows boarded up and flies buzzing around street lamps and various piles of trash. The character models are a step up from Soul Reaver 2, but not quite as detailed as Metal Gear Solid 2. Kain himself looks quite different from the way he has been portrayed in previous titles. He hasn't yet reached the stage we see him at in the Soul Reaver games, yet he looks considerably "prettier" than he did in the original Blood Omen. Some will like the change, others will call him a Goth pretty boy, but either way the character looks quite good. The graphics are sharp for other characters as well, even the minor citizens of the city, with little touches like chests moving as they breathe and detailed clothing and weapons.

Fans of the control setup of Soul Reaver 1& 2 may be a bit put off with the controls in Blood Omen 2. Gone is the "run in the direction pushed" control scheme, it is replaced by one more akin to Resident Evil. You press up to move forward, right and left turn you in their respective directions, and down moves you backwards. It takes a bit of getting used to after the previous games, but it works well and doesn't hinder gameplay. The game itself plays mainly like Soul Reaver, with a bit of Tenchu thrown in. You can auto-lock on enemies and block their attacks, sidestep and parry, and do multi-hit combos. Anyone familiar with the previous games will feel right at home with the combat. The puzzles in the game are quite simple, mainly consisting of finding the right switch or moving a block so you can jump over a certain wall.

The Tenchu aspect comes into play with the addition of "stealth kills", which are an important part of the game. In Kain's mist form, you can sneak up on enemies from behind and deliver a one-hit deathblow. The type of attack depends on what weapon you have equipped, and range from simple decapitation to a gruesome "heart punch". These are essential to taking out multiple enemies, as you can kill one, then hide again and sneak up on the others at your leisure.

Weapons also play an important part in this game; you no longer have the Soul Reaver and must find weapons as you go. You start with your bare claws but can obtain various swords, knives, clubs and other deadly instruments throughout the course of the game. Weapons will break over time, and it is always advisable to pick up a new one when you dispatch its' previous owner. As in Soul Reaver, constant feeding is necessary; it's best to feed off every enemy you kill, even if you are at full health. The only way to gain a larger life bar is to find various vampire "gift" boxes found around the cities, and feed off your enemies blood.

Another aspect that has always been exceptional in the Legacy of Kain series is the voice acting and sound effects. Blood Omen 2 delivers here as well, retaining the original voice actors for Kain, Vorador, and Janos from Soul Reaver 2, while adding new cast members that are well acted out. Weapons clash and clang as you would expect them to, and when you slash skin it responds with disgustingly realistic sounding results. The music isn't remarkable, but it isn't bad either. It provides good atmosphere for the levels without being overbearing, and conveys the overall dark mood of the game quite well.

The Bad:
Although there is a lot to like about this game, there are a few flaws. When new sections of the level load, there tends to be a bit of slowdown. Occasional soundtrack skipping also occurs, in some cases you have to reload a previous save to correct it. The save system is improved over Soul Reaver 2, but not by much. You can save anytime you like, however you will start from the last checkpoint activated, rather than from the exact spot where you saved. As mentioned before, the control system is different from previous games, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it really depends on your personal tastes. However, none of these detract from the game enough to drag it down, it is still a well-made and executed game.

Fans of previous games in the Kain series will certainly enjoy this, as it expands on the Nosgoth universe and ties up some loose story points from earlier titles. Those who have never played a Legacy of Kain game will still find a lot to like, but may feel a bit lost when certain story elements appear that aren't fully explained. Nevertheless it is a very good game, fans should purchase it to add another chapter to the ever expanding story, every one else should at least rent it to play one of the better games released this year.

- - Darken Rahl

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