Review by the_quickness
Ah, good ol' Soul Raider.
I loved this game, I truly did. There were some big flaws, though, and some points of confusion, which we'll be getting to.
Storyline-wise, it starts off somewhat confusing, even for those who have played the prequel. The game takes on a different direction, different lead character, is set thousands of years later, but, thankfully, the graphics are light years ahead. The only things linking this game to its predecessor are Kain, who some will see and go "oh, I remember that guy. He looks different now" and the game's brilliant voice acting. Too often dialogue falls by the wayside; in Soul Reaver, it takes center stage.
You start off with a very interesting introduction and you may start to notice as you play the game that it just kind of flows, there aren't "now loading" screens everywhere you go. You're just free to play. For Playstation 1, this is kind of a big deal. If you just played the first 20 minutes you'd think "wow, I'm sold."
You wouldn't be let down, either, except somewhere along the way, and it's different for everybody, you just notice that things aren't all there. The enemies you fight seem to be the same 2 enemies everywhere you go. The last human village you read so much about in the instruction booklet is... not really a big deal. You find one upgrade to your weapon, and only one, and you wonder "why is this important, again?" You also wonder why these spells that you get even exist, since they are useless against bosses and no regular enemies are ever difficult enough to warrant the use of them.
If that wasn't enough, there was a lot of hype that the game didn't live up to (which is something that can be said for almost all games, to be sure). I was one of those anxious, eagerly-awaiting individuals that wanted to do all the neat little things I read about in magazines, except that they weren't there. No vampire religion. Only one of the elemental upgrades, and it has no bearing on the story. A human village that doesn't really matter, with humans that, oddly enough, have more intelligence than the regular enemies, a fact made odder still since they absolutely do not matter in this game, not from a plot perspective, not from an interaction perspective, not even from a 'they give you stuff' perspective.
The whole game shows its seams, with the mysterious green fog that seems to be everywhere like the programmers were trying to cover up a crime scene. They didn't cover it up well enough, though, since there are still traces of "important" characters left in the game and on the disk, like a boss you think will be there that, sadly, is replaced by a regular enemy, and given only partial dialogue.
Combine the "huh?" factor with the never-ending block puzzles and you'll wonder if some torture expert was hired to design the game. Half the time enemies will respawn in pairs and you'll just kind of smack them around and be frustrated that they won't let you figure out some new block thing in peace. There is also the time-limit factor, which isn't really in numerical form, as it were, but the entire time you are on the 'material realm' your health is slowly draining away whether you like it or not. It's one more stress factor during those tedious puzzles.
Still, the game is fun. You get to impale victims. You get to swallow souls. You get to do nasty, vicious things to the bosses they left in the game. Just don't expect to understand what's going on when the game 'ends' (a trend that will continue in all of the sequels).
Music - 9/10, really fit the oddity of the game
Sound - I'm going to include the voice acting here - 10/10. Even though you won't understand it half the time, it sounds intelligent and seems fitting.
Graphics - 10/10, for ps1.
Challenge - 4/10 - more tedious than anything, very repetitive tasks
Story - 5/10 - I only gave it this high because I liked how they ruined the main character right from the beginning (but then, I'm morbid like that).
Whatever you do, don't find something that plays XA files and pop this disc in your computer's CD-Rom. You'll be able to hear the game that should have been, and the resulting sense of loss will be maddening.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (US, 08/16/99)
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