Blood Omen 2
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Kain is here to suck some blood 3D style!
Where does the legacy end? Does anyone remember the first incarcation of Blood Omen way back in the early days of the PSX? The overhead view of Kain sucking blood in a Zelda-esque game? That game was incredibly awesome and completely overlooked, everyone to this day still has trouble remembering the roots of the Nosgoth crew, which is sad because in my opinion the one that started it all is still the best in the entire series. Well now that the series has gained it's popularity and started it's own band of followers the original game gets a few takers here and there, but now Kain finally returns in his fully 3D sequel much like Raziel before him. This time you take the role of the Vampire general and he has lost his memory and what he used to be is a mystery to him. His arrogance however is still as high even though his past is a mystery, let's begin shall we?
For those not familiar with the original Blood Omen Kain is the OV, original vampire. He is the one the the entire story evolves around, hence the subtitle "Legacy of Kain". The series has grown into the 3D plat forming state it is in now and does not seem to be letting up, almost like the Tomb Raider series. I feel perhaps they should search for another genre to move the games into because with each incarnation of the Kain legacy they feel a little more unpolished than the last. The thing that keeps you coming back for more in this series is the storyline, much like MGS, LoK delivers movei quality cut-scenes and incredible voice acting that can only be matched by Hollywood's finest. This is what draws players into the game and makes them feel as if Nosgoth truly does exist.
Visually BO2 is not that impressive to be running on the XBox, choppy frame rates and rough edges do not show what the system is easily capable of, which means that this was a straight port of the PS2 version with aliasing thrown in at the last second. It really gets tiring seeing shoddy PS2 ports, they are lowest form of development available not to mention porting games is just plain laziness. The Xbox could have made this game look so much better, although I won't complain too much because it did make it out at the same time, just a pity it couldn't have taken advantage of some of the XBox's cooler features to add a darker atmosphere and clean up that horrible slowdown.
The audio is where the series always shines, with a dynamic soundtrack that feels of hollywood caliber and voice acting to die for LoK BO2 is an audible masterpiece that screams high quality. The voices that accompany your character deliver a gritty British tone that has become the norm of the LoK series, almost as if it had been an established series for ages. Telling a tale that has spanned centuries and will continue to grow deeper with each passing chapter.
The game play is where things begin to slip. The combat system is very reminiscent of Soul Reaver, you use each trigger in conjunction with your attacks and blocks. The left trigger is used for blocking, you have the option to choose whether you want it to always block or block on each pull of the trigger for advance players, w00t LOL. The right trigger is used to lock onto enemies and must be held down in order to strike. This makes the combat very repetitive and at most times downright boring. Kain can also carry any weapon found in the game, the coolest feature is that the weapons will break if you strike a blocking opponent too many times, funny how theirs doesn't break though eh? The shitty feature about this is that once a weapon is picked up it cannot be dropped, so you gotta carry it around until you break it or find another weapon. Kain also has a set of powers he can use within the game such as mist and a super jump that allows you to jump across huge gaps. These powers are key to the game play although most of them seem like a last thought.
In the end unless you are a die hard fan of this series and have to own every chapter I recommend renting this one over the weekend and going through it entirely, you won't feel cheated out of your 5 bucks. Although if you go out and purchase it, you may be a little pissed you laid down 50 big ones for a game that feels a bit unfinished. Not necessarily a bad game just one that needs some major work. Perhaps CD will get their act together with the next game and finally deliver something to the caliber of the original LoK. Until then we will have to suffice with the awesome story to get us by.