Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 Review
publisher: Eidos Interactive
developer: Crystal Dynamics
genre: Action Adventure
PIII-450, 128MB RAM, 850MB HDD, 16MB 3D accelerator
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Nov 20, 01 (released)
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As I said so many times before, the prerequisite for an entertaining game, and that goes double for action-adventures, is an intricate and elaborate game world. Having just a decent plot and little more in the way of meaty details and characters that bring it all together is simply not enough to reach the status of a classic. There aren't many game heroes who are considered genuine stars of their respective titles, but Raziel definitely seems to fit the profile. Soul Reaver was a very fun game, but I'm delighted to say that Crystal Dynamics' Soul Reaver 2 is more mature, imaginative, complex, and ultimately more fun than the original.
The story in Soul Reaver 2: Legacy of Kain picks up where the original left off. In this sequel, you reassume the role of Raziel, and travel back through the currents of time into various eras of Nosgoth's past in your relentless pursuit of Kain. Many secrets are reveled about Nosgoth's dark history - the genocide committed against the vampire race, secrets behind the corruption of the Pillars, the influence that the mysterious winged race had on its destiny, and it is up to Raziel to break the strings that hold him imprisoned as a mere puppet, and earn his rightful place of the hero that he once was. What's captivating about Soul Reaver 2 is not just its basic plot, but also its rich characters, which actually convey a depth on a level that is rarely seen in today's video games. It takes some time for the story to gain momentum, and the fluency of the gameplay will be interrupted by numerous cut-scenes and dialogue, but this prelude to a fine action game is what immerses the player into the game world and makes him go that one step further until the story comes to an end. The action starts out slow, but the scenes and the unfolding plot only get more epic as you progress further through the game. This task of creating a compact narrative and gaming experience was masterfully done by the lads at Crystal Dynamics, and the superb voice acting helps make Soul Reaver 2 an exciting cinematic experience.
Of course, one would expect such things from a class-A PS2 title, but it nonetheless is a sight for sore and jaded eyes to see such an excellent interpretation of a fantasy world. Some players demanding straight-out gameplay, and less jibber-jabber may feel a bit unsatisfied in the beginning, but if you stick to it and let the dialogue suck you into the story, you'll soon realize that true adventure games aren't dead, but have merely changed in their form and appearance.
From the minute I first lay my eyes on Soul Reaver 2, it became crystal clear that I was dealing with a high quality product; with virtually no bugs whatsoever, well apart from a few ill-aligned polys. The sound effects are some of the best I've heard in a video game -- from the sounds of Raziel's feet stepping onto different surfaces, to the excellently done "cries" of the Reaver; the soundtrack is atmospheric, skillfully synchronized with the action, and at times simply chilling. The same goes for the visuals. In fact, I'd call the Soul Reaver 2 graphics some of the best I've seen - ever. The Enhanced graphics and combat system was designed specifically for the PS2, but it also works like a charm on the PC. With all the effects turned on, and in 1280x1024, my GeForce 3 was dishing out some seriously high frame rates.
There was hardly a scene in Soul Reaver 2 that I'd consider visually lacking. The characters are brilliantly textured and animated, and at some locations in the game, I just had to stop for a second and admire the view. The water effects are probably the best I've seen yet; the textures are rich, and there is never a moment when Nasgoth feels dull and repetitive. What more can one ask in terms of the visuals? I already mentioned the professional voice acting, so if we take into account all the aforementioned factors, there's really no need to go on about the game's unquestionable artistic qualities.
Even the programming part of the project had been done exceedingly well. The controls are easy to use and intuitive, which wasn't hard to do since the original already fitted the description. Finally, the AI is on a par with the rest of the "technicalities," - the enemies will duck, retreat and keep their distance if they happen to carry ranged weapons.
Further enhancing the gameplay (yes, enhancing) is the legacy of the PS2 console - the limited save option. Though it may at times appear a bit frustrating to go over the entire level, because of a simple blunder, it actually keeps the players on their toes, and the tension constant. About the only thing that can ruin this feeling for you are the relatively easy adversaries, and the fact that you can't die, but simply shift planes, which would consequently mean you'd have to look around for a nearby portal to shift back from spectral to the material plane. Then again, being "mortlal" would kind of kill the basic concept of Soul Reaver...
The fights, though entertaining could've been made a bit more challenging, as I didn't get enough of that sense of accomplishment after beating some of the "tougher" spooks. The same could be said for the logical puzzles, which unfortunately don't require a whole lot of mental exercise, and those are about the only significant drawbacks that caught my attention in this sequel.
Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend this game to any action adventure fan out there, especially those who are looking to drift away to a captivating fantasy world, away from their daily choirs and work/school related routines.
8.7 Very Good
Visually striking, rich game world, excellent sounds and voice acting...
The opponents and puzzles could've been made a bit tougher. The programmers could've also included more fatalities.
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