Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

A couple of years ago when Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain hit storeshelves, it got bashed considerably for its dated graphics, long load time, and control problems. Personally, I loved the game, but I was surely in the minority. I thought that it had a great story backed up by decent graphics and great incredible sound. The load time was indeed immense, but it promises to be cured in the upcoming sequel to Blood Omen, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.

Soul Reaver picks up some years after Blood Omen left off. As you may know, you had a choice between ruling the world or sacrificing your life to save it at the end of Blood Omen. Well, Soul Reaver begins as though you decided to rule it. Kain is now the king of the world (move over Leo), and the land of Nosgoth has been removed of all human life. All that remains are vampires. Kain has 6 top generals, whose names are Raziel, Duma, Ruman, Hema, Zephon, and Rahab. On one fateful day, Raziel comes before Kain with the next step in vampire evolution... a pair of beautiful wings. This enrages Kain, because Raziel has surpassed him in evolutionary ability, so he hurls Raziel into a bottomless vortex full of water (acidic to vampiric touch). Raziel feels himself dying, just as he hears the voice of The Elder, an old vampire sage who lives off of the souls of his prey. The Elder is infuriated because of his hunger for souls, so he sends Raziel on a quest to slay Kain and his generals in order to fill his desires for life (er... death). So in the same vein as the original LoK, revenge is your objective, and you are being manipulated by a greater being (similar to the Necromancer in LoK). The plot is dark and intriguing, and simply put, I cannot wait to see what twisted events await me.

LoK:SR has addressed almost every major complaint about the original. First of all, the game is now set in a fully panoramic 3D world in which Raziel has a number of abilities that were of no use to Kain. Secondly, Raziel can jump (which certainly adds depth to the game mechanics), glide, swim, climb, and of course, punch and swing/throw weapons. All of this adds an incredible amount of depth to the ability impaired likes of Blood Omen. Also, the world that Raziel must travel through is lush and moody, making the gameplay look totally unrecognizable from Blood Omen. The demo I played was very flawed in terms of collision detection, but I trust that Crystal Dynamics will tune up the gameplay quite a few notches before the game's release next year. Naturally, blood is a big part of the game, but instead of devouring the nectar of slain foes, you must steal their lingering souls. The load time has also been dramatically reduced, as the developers have chose to stream all the levels together for an amazing amount of quick loading.

The control is obviously affected by the leap to 3D, although as of now, I would not really say that is a good thing. The short demo I played controlled kind of sloppy, although there is plenty of time for improvement. As mentioned before, the collision detection is horrible. Nine times out of ten when you send the final blow to a weary enemy, your spear totally misses him but blood splats and he falls to the ground. I am sure that this will be fixed, as well as the many freeze ups that are scattered throughout the demo. Other than these major deficiencies, the control also suffers from a somewhat bad camera system. Lets just hope that all of this is remedied before the final version.

I know very little about the music. The tune in the demo was a repetitive beat type deal, but knowing the sound fiends at Crystal Dynamics, the sound effects and music will be on par with rocket science in no time. Expect a lot of voice overs and superb FMV by the time the game is complete.

Look for more info on this upcoming and very promising title as time goes on. It should be available by first quarter/99. Andrew the Game Master