Review by HSarton

Reviewed: 08/17/00 | Updated: 08/17/00

Worth the wait and any amount of money you might pay for it.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is the sequel to Silicon Knights' 1996 release Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. The change in technology since that game however, means that Soul Reaver doesn't have any load times (once up and running), slowdown is practically unnoticeable and the story unfolds in a much more understandable way. Like virtually every PS game, it is presented in 3D but fortunately lacks many of the problems inherent to this genre.For those not familiar with the Legacy of Kain series, the story focuses on the actions of Kain (the game's antagonist) and Raziel (your character). Centuries prior to Raziel's undead beginnings, a mortal Kain was murdered and changed into a vampire by a mysterious sorcerer named Mortanius, so that he might find and kill his assassins. What Kain didn't realize was his immortality would come at a very high price. The remainder of Blood Omen sees Kain discovering exactly what he was, what his role has become and that the future of Nosgoth is dependant solely on his actions. Now, in this new time frame, he and his clan leaders have sculpted the world to best suit themselves. Not only that, but Kain and the others have begun to evolve. Kain seemed content until Raziel developed wings before him (something which had never happened before). Raziel is betrayed by Kain and his fellow clan leaders and soon thrown into the Lake of the Dead. Another 1000 years pass before Raziel finally reaches the bottom. It is here he learns the blight of a being known only as the Elder God, who offers him the chance for revenge against Kain if he'll simply collect the souls of his defeated opponents. Thus Raziel's quest begins...You explore the massive world seeking each of your fellow clan leaders, learning more about Nosgoth from the Elder God, your brothers and even Kain himself, as you go along. Although that might sound repetitive, the numerous story developments lend a strong sense of purpose to your quest. And the voice acting is unparalleled (I believe better than that of MGS), with well-written dialogue that is delivered with striking emotion and conviction. Each boss is located deep in the heart of a puzzle-laden dungeon of sorts, with enemies found all along your path. I feel the balance between fighting and exploration is wonderful. Most enemies ''regenerate'', meaning you won't be alone for large spans of time. Soul Reaver controls extremely well with Raziel responding quickly and accurately to the slightest input from the controller. Another highlight of the game's controls are the elegant fight sequences. They feel surprisingly fluid and tight and Raziel can even use nearby objects to help him. The camera's programming is among the best of any 3D game to date, with awkward angles appearing in only a handful of places.As you all know nice visuals are not really necessary for a game's success but they do help. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver pushes the PS to what MUST certainly be its graphical limits (or very close to them). All surface textures are crisp and beautiful and in-game characters feature fleshy, elastic ''skins'' which bend and conform to their bodies, even in motion! At first you might think this game is too dark to even play but I believe the ominous, gothic visuals work well to hammer home the sense of decay and desolation that has enveloped Nosgoth during Kain's rule.The music is expertly crafted and highly effective in establishing the mood from the moment you begin playing yet it's never annoying, and the transition from one track to another sounds unusually natural. The sound effects are just as good. I especially enjoyed the sounds of moving water.When you do finish this game you'll probably want to turn around and start from the beginning again as I doubt you'll find all of the secrets your first run through (unless you're using a strategy guide, you wimp :P). There are glyphs (magic spells), health power-ups and magic capacity power-ups, all hidden away throughout the enormous world, which become more and more difficult to locate and reach.Havng said all of this you might wonder why I didn't give Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver a perfect score. It does have a few minor, but very obvious, flaws. While some of the shifting puzzles are very different, the vast majority of brainteasers rely heavily on blocks that must simply be flipped, rotated and/or pushed into position. By the end of the game the developers used this type of puzzle almost exclusively and it does get pretty tired. Battles with Kain aren't nearly as epic or grand as I thought they would be and the powerful Soul Reaver makes battles in general little more than fun, thirty second diversions. It probably won't take you the proposed sixty hours to beat the game and finally, you may or may not have already heard but the ending is one of the worst you will probably ever see. After everything you've been through it leaves a very bad taste in your mouth. Ultimately, though, the positive points far outweigh the negative ones.I really think this game was worth the three-year wait and any amount of hard-earned money you might pay for it.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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