Players resume the role of the noble vampire Kain in this release of Blood Omen 2. The action adventure offers an assortment of challenges that will require fighting skills, puzzle solving, and a keen awareness of the hero's surroundings at all times. As Kain defeats his enemies and overcomes the obstacles that keep him from his goal, he is granted new supernatural powers to help him face greater challenges as he journeys ahead. The detailed, gothic 3D environments are designed to immerse the player in the game world and cinematic cut scenes move the story ahead as Kain continues his conquest of Nosgoth.
Blood Omen 2 is an 3rd-person 3D action adventure, the sequel to the Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (released on PlayStation and PC in 1995). Actually this "Legacy of Kain" series consists from four games - Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen, Soul Reaver, Soul Reaver 2, and now Blood Omen 2. All these games take place in the same universe, but Blood Omen series takes place hundreds of years before Soul Reaver begins. To be exact, Blood Omen takes place 200 years after the original Blood Omen.
You assume the role of Kain, the infamous vampire from all the Legacy of Kain games. You will kill, brutalize and suck blood anyone unfortunate to cross your path! Yes, you are now the bad guy, you are Vampire! Although the entire game revolves around how to flip a switch, solve glyph puzzles, move crates, and kill people to suck their blood, the gameplay is GREAT. Simply the gameplay is pretty staightforwarded and linear and lacking all of the RPG elements of the original Blood Omen. You basically travel from point X to point Y pulling levers, pushing blocks, turning wheels. The puzzles are simplistic and not challenging at all. Also entire combat is very simple - Kain locks on to his enemies and draws his weapon with a keypress. The buttons are very easy to learn, only I spent some time trying to master my dark gifts (Mist, long-range Jump, and Fury). With each your success, you achieve a new dark powers that makes you stronger and more skilled vampire.
I didn't play the previous "Legacy of Kain" games so I cannot compare it, but I really very liked to play this one. Usually I don't play 3rd-action games much, but I have finished this one very fast. After I have read Brian Lumley's Nescroscope books about Vampires, it was really enjoyable to play game like this one. Well, the Blood Omen 2 is maybe a bit repetitive - still the same combats, puzzles and sucking action. I believe some gamers will get extremely bored, however I didn't. I found Blood Omen 2 very addictive for me If you are a Vampire fan, Blood Omen 2 is definitely worth playing!
Blood Omen 2 is the sequel to the original isometric Legacy of Kain game that graced the PSX. Those Soul Reaver titles, while taking place in the same universe, are different takes on the same Kain fiction.
And in the following paragraphs I shall create a whole new level of confusion... In the first game, and emphasized to far greater degree in the Soul Reavers, players were evil and vicious only as a means to attain an end. The protagonists would do anything to appease their thirst for vengeance. This game initially follows that same premise. Some two hundred years after the conclusion of Blood Omen, but a long while before the events of Soul Reaver, Kain and his vampiric armies are caught up in a war with a mysterious army of fanatics known as the Sarafan. After years of conflict, these zealots, more specifically their leader, the Sarafan Lord, crush Kain and his armies, brutally subduing the people of Nosgoth under their iron will. But there is more here than meets the eye (strangely enough). After a long and covert recovery, Kain awakens to reassemble his now scattered and treacherous legions of vampires and seek revenge. The thing is, it seems Kain is largely uninterested in doing this.
With every breath Soul Reaver's Raziel reaffirmed his being. He'd like nothing more than to see Kain dead. In fact, he knew nothing more than his quest to destroy his creator. Raziel was vengeance incarnate. Kain, on the other hand, seems largely content with wandering the land and being wicked, nonchalantly killing townsfolk where he spies them. Even though he walks as he pleases, and does as he pleases, he's often portrayed as nothing more than an arrogant jerk with little to latch on to and care about. If he doesn't care about what's going on, why should I care about him not caring about what's going on? It's one thing to be evil, but another to be needlessly evil. This is a far cry from the Kain of the original Blood Omen, and even a drastic change from the one of Soul Reaver (obviously I'm not just talking about appearances here).
But, it's in the realm of gameplay that I find my only true, considerable grievance... It's boring and old.
Here's how Blood Omen 2 plays out... You walk along a considerably narrow and linear path punching, chopping, clubbing, and sucking things. The title may have, at one point, boldly proclaimed stealth to be its crux, but sneaking about turns out to be far more of a novelty than a necessity. In fact, I've found that after mastering the control scheme and understanding the fundamentals of combat, you can simply walk along and pick fights with a majority of the creatures in the game with little to no consequence. A fact that would be awesome if we were talking about some kind of awesome, modern rendition of Golden Axe. But, as you might have guessed, this is not the case.
If played through a mouse and keyboard interface, the game will not feel as intuitive or smooth as a typical third-person shooter (the camera being only one annoyance). Just moving about is somewhat clumsy (more akin to Resident Evil than Soul Reaver -- you pivot to turn). Indeed, there is no strafe, thus immediately causing a traditional mouse and keyboard combination to be somewhat inadvisable. Playing with a solid gamepad, a PS2 controller via adapter even, won't solve the problems at hand. There's just not much to do, and what can be done isn't very enjoyable.
Though you can see multiple bad guys on the screen at one time, in combat, enemies are designed to engage you one at a time, thankfully so, because managing multiple engagements with the current setup would be insanity. Once held down, the autoface button locks onto an opponent and only then will Kain be allowed to perform offensive maneuvers. A simple a change as just being able to press a key to engage and disengage the autoface would have helped. Heck, why not just let us optionally attack without the confines of a lock-on? But this is only the beginning.
Despite being able to use an abundance of weapons, Kain can, from here on in, attack, and grab and then attack. However sickeningly delightful underhandedly bashing someone in the nuts with a spiked club can be, it's just not enough to hold interest. Repeatedly pressing the same button to pull off the exact same combination does not constitute a combo, and only two real ways to attack does not qualify as a combat system.
Even the Dark Gifts, as clever and interesting as some of them are, are majorly situational in nature, playable only in preset circumstances. Worse still, all are slowly accessible. Use of the Dark Gifts (those specific supernatural powers you earn by defeating boss enemies), is done through a menu system, which inherently pauses the game. Only once a Dark Gift has been selected can it be used through the depression of a different button. It should have been implemented in such a way where each Gift could be bound to a key and used on demand. Better still, Kain's many powers would have been preferably selectable through the otherwise untouched mouse wheel that is so completely useless it makes Steve's private parts look like the cotton gin. If Jedi Outcast can manage a multitude of force powers and weapons in extremely hectic situations in real-time, then certainly Blood Omen 2 could do far less in a far more plodding environment.
Still, some of these Gifts are cool enough that they help retain interest. Charming a hapless denizen of Nosgoth into doing your own bidding, for instance, is fiendishly enjoyable, especially if, when you're done with him, you can grab him by the throat and hurl him into the sea (a cherished pastime of mine).
Interspersing the dominant action elements are box puzzles and switch puzzles. (Flick this to open that. Move this large crate to keep that large door open.) After immersing myself in the next step in adventure games that was Project Eden (yes, the combat blew hard), I must say, I'm spoiled on greatness, and as a consequence, am really tired of this far more traditional approach to breaking up action. I don't want to push your stupid crates, so stop asking me too already. I also don't want to flick your stupid switches to make your stupid green stuff slowly flow down your stupid pipe to open a stupid gate. It's tedious and pointlessly aggravating. Enough of it. There are far better ways to keep the game flowing between action segments. Conversation, or even a rudimentary exploratory and acrobatic component not too dissimilar from Tomb Raider (here comes the flame mail), as a couple of examples, would have been stellar. But talking to the denizens of Meridian and Nosgoth (those people who still live in a place that must have about 500 murders a night since I've arrived) is apparently far too much to ask. But hey, at least I can mercilessly and repetitiously kill them. And really, isn't that what gaming is all about?
Formulaic boss encounters round out the gameplay department. Like so many games of past, these instances all require that the gamer observe, gauge, and then adapt to the enemies, who all follow preset combinations and adhere to preset strategies. What this amounts to is the exact same type of trial and error that classic side-scrollers from NES days long since forgotten used in place of artificial intelligence routines. The moment you pin a boss's patterns down is the moment you trounce him. That's not to say this setup is not without its charms. Even though nostalgia is not synonymous with quality, doing your best to stay alive until you can figure out a weakness and approach to dethroning a villain is still fun. Obviously I'll take sheer skill, reflex, and intelligence over routine and pattern any day, but Blood Omen 2 shows, however unremarkably, that there's still a small place in all of our hearts for this kind of design.
Because gameplay is not terribly broken, but rather simply mundane, it can be disregarded as uninspired, but not trashed, for it serves the purpose of being an acceptable means by which a phenomenal universe can be experienced and enjoyed.
Other nuisances of note include once again being unable to skip lengthy real-time cutscenes that populate the game. I really don't want to listen to Umah inanely prattle on anymore. You can, this time around, save pretty much anytime. Well, not exactly everywhere (saving in the middle of multiple tiered boss encounters will divert you back to the beginning of the event itself, as one example).
The other thing is that this game loves to crash. A patch has already been released, but the damage is done, the game has been played, and this review is getting written. Now, when I say the game likes to crash a lot, I mean a lot. It won't like some of your gamepads. It won't like some of your options. It won't like your hardware. It just plain won't like you.
Aurally, Blood Omen 2 manages to be almost as impressive as the last Soul Reaver was. Along with dynamic and moody scores, the mystical steampunk world of Nosgoth is delivered with a similar era type acting and dialog that made Soul Reaver and its follow up so appealing, but largely without the sheer amount of flair, drama, and intensity. Kain, played by the same actor, sounds as he ever did. The rest, on the other hand, sometimes lack, but never to degrees that cause them to descend below the ranks of average games.
Aesthetically, Blood Omen 2 is pretty, but not in that gorgeous, want to wake up to it every morning kind of way.
Even though the models themselves animate well, and are acceptable assemblages of polygons (whee), facial animations don't seem nearly as good as Soul Reaver 2's, though I suppose they can't all be Moebius, and anything is better than puppet jaws or four frames of moving lips. The fingers of Nosgothians move quite a bit and very smoothly though. Mr. Burns would be proud.
The city itself, however dark it may be, has a lot of architecture and sets the mood pretty well, but texturing drags a bit on the low quality, blurred side of the spectrum, especially after enjoying the marvel of Serious Sam: The Second Encounter and all its detail textured goodness. But this is what screenshots are for.
Kain's latest journey isn't so much a tale of things that were done wrong, but rather things that weren't done at all. In so vigorously attempting to be more like the original Legacy of Kain, Blood Omen 2 forsakes all that made its cousins so appealing, and instead comes off as being the sidestep of the series and not the forward progress it should have been. Soul Reaver 2 had intensity in story and delivery, quick, more controllable combat, and far superior puzzles. But what that game did, this one does not.
The sluggish, redundant, and infamously formulaic combat makes Blood Omen 2 a sloppy action outing, especially when contrasted by the recent brilliance of Jedi Outcast. And what it fundamentally lacks in this department, it fails to make up for in adventuring. By being thrown into a bafflingly linear quest with zero the way of role-playing, exploration, or depth, Kain must rely on himself for gratification, which he does admirably.
The fiction, premise, design, and delivery of the game alone are just barely enough to make it a decent title, recommended with a heavy try before you buy clause attached. The allure of Nosgoth is undeniable. I'll always contend that the Raziel is the greater, more vibrant, likable, and relatable character, but Kain is who started it all, and he still knows what works. Not the antihero and certainly not the hero, Kain is the intriguing, viciously murderous, self-serving vampire with a destiny. And it's this very destiny, this piece of the greater Legacy of Kain puzzle that makes play worthwhile, especially to those adoring fans of the fiction, and even though the game is passably mediocre.
People who downloaded Blood Omen 2 have also downloaded:
BloodRayne, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Blade of Darkness, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2, Legacy of Kain: Defiance, Blair Witch Volume 1: Rustin Parr, Blair Witch Volume 3: The Elly Kedward Tale, Alone in the Dark 4: The New Nightmare
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