Crystal Dynamics and Eidos have teamed up to make the next saga in this morbidly thematic series about vampires and the realm they control.
You play as Raziel, a vampire damned to a hellish fate by your leader and master, Kain. He was the original vampire in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and now has become a powerful leader and warrior in the world of Nosgoth. The reason behind your penance is because of Kain's jealously due to your superiority caused by accelerated evolution.
Wings form out of your sides and you are now better than the arrogant Kain. Once Kain discovers your power, he attacks you and sends you into a swirling void of no return. When you awake, your body is torn apart and your mouth is now just a gaping hole. You are hell-bent on revenge against Kain and your brothers, all of whom share vampire powers. With the help from a mysterious man known only as The Elder, you must qualm your wayward spirit.
Your task is to navigate the world of Nosgoth looking for clues and fighting off hordes of creatures, including several types of vampires. The mission you are traversing is non-linear, thus you can go anywhere, anytime. The landscapes range from mountainous terrain to underwater dungeons. Each corner is murkier than the next in this dark, dank, damned world.
Upon finding your brothers, you will have a duel with them and if victorious, inherit their powers. Telekinesis, magic and swimming are just some of the abilities. There is a host of other items in the game for your use such as sticks, torches, spears and the mighty Soul Reaver. Its power is unequaled and you will have to crusade hard to acquire it.
As Raziel is already dead, he cannot be killed. The only consequence of defeat is travel to the Spectral Realm where his life is replenished, although his surroundings will be slightly altered and his missions changed.
Your quest for vengeance and retribution will not be easy and will be paved with many corpses and puzzles. Seek out your brothers and make them pay.
Graphics & Sound:
The graphics in Legacy of Kain are gorgeous. Sure, the textures aren't rounded like in Quake III or whatever, but man oh man, the first time you see the world morph from the Spirit world to the Real world and see the entire structure change around you, you'll be aghast. This game is gorgeous. The structures are amazingly detailed, the character models are even more so -- I spent minutes just getting close-ups of Raziel's face so I could see his jawless grin when he sucked a soul -- and it plays without a hitch on my system. The transparency effects of the water are something to behold when you're in the spirit world. Mmm. This game hits it all graphically, except for a few crazy glitches -- heads through walls, projectiles turning transparent permanently, stuff like that. They subtract from the game experience, but only minimally.
One thing that doesn't subtract at all is the sound. The sound effects are excellent, with good chunky thwacks when you smack a vampire upside the head and a satisfying scrunch when you impale them. And the voice acting, much like the voice acting in the original game, is superb. Other than a few graphical glitches, this game's presentation shines.
Mmm. Soul Reaver plays better than pretty much any 3rd person action/adventure I've ever played. It blows away the Tomb Raider series. The game starts long after the first one in the "series," Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, but Kain's back and just as naughty as ever.
You're Raziel, once the right-hand man of Kain, and now a decrepit walking corpse existing for no other reason than revenge. You are a Soul Reaver, and you must eat souls to remain in the soul of the living. Of course, being dead, you cannot truly die -- you simply get thrown into a parallel world, the Spirit world, when you lose all your health in the real world, and if you lose all of your health there, you get cast back to the starting location of the game. Of course, trekking back to where you were in the game, "warp gates" aside is often punishment enough. Throughout your travels, you'll slay lots of vampires -- which you need to burn with sunlight or impale, else they don't die -- solve lots of location puzzles (How do I get past here? Where is the switch I need to flip?), and see lots of beautiful scenery. You'll enjoy every minute of it, too. Even when you're stuck as to where to go, it's enjoyable to just roam around the world and slip into the Spirit world and see the differences between the two. In fact, quite a few puzzles require you to slip between the two to get past certain obstacles.
True to the nature of the game, as you progress, Raziel gains new attacks and abilities, such as the ability to slip through gates or touch water unimpeded. His tattered wings also allow him a limited gliding ability.
The world is pretty big, pretty detailed, but unfortunately, the game ends a touch too quickly. After doing a touch of research, it seems that the game wasn't really supposed to end where it did, but getting the game out necessitated a release. Quite alright, though -- the game's still a ton of fun, "full" or not. Its depressing, dark setting does nothing more than add to the ambiance, and really gets you into the feel of the game, to feel what it is to be Raziel. The rather common voiceovers help to move the plot along as well, as you search for your brothers and Kain himself in your quest for revenge.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver isn't too hard, but it's not too easy, either -- it all depends on where you are. The occasional jumping puzzles may frustrate you at first, but once you master the game's controls, they're not that bad. Same thing with combat -- mastery breeds excellence.
The game's controls are spot-on, which is no surprise, considering it's pretty much a port of a console game. Console games have to have good control, and it migrated well. (The graphics got a serious improvement over the PSX version, but that's more because of resolution than anything else.) The combat engine is tight, and makes for some great cinematic moments, like whipping around a column to stab an unsuspecting vampire in the back and subsequently lifting him off the ground by the spear. Good stuff.
If Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver were longer and if there weren't quite as many graphical glitches, it would be gaming perfection. As it is, get it anyway -- you won't regret it. It's good, macabre fun.
How to run this game on modern Windows PC?
People who downloaded Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver have also downloaded:
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2, Legacy of Kain: Defiance, Blood Omen 2, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Outcast, Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Silent Hill 3
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