Blood Omen 2
Blood Omen 2 images
Review of Blood Omen 2
In 1997 a little known vampire flew onto the scene and quickly became something of a cult figure among gamers worldwide. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain was predominantly an action/adventure title, which included many intelligent puzzles to sift through. The gameplay seemed to follow a platform format, however it also fringed the borders of role-playing.
Two years later it was assumed that the Kain character had been shelved, as he only briefly appeared in FMV footage from the follow-up, Soul Reaver. Now, with a further sequel already available on PS2 (Soul Reaver 2), I assumed that vampire Kain had been firmly laid to rest.
Suddenly, five ‘real’ years on, we find that Crystal Dynamics have polished up his fangs and dusted off the cobwebs to reincarnate the original Legacy of Kain series as the beast is reawakened some 400 years into the future. So prepare for gallons of rich, red flowing blood to be sucked across the city of Nosgarth in this brand new fully 3D action/combat game.
Graphically, Blood Omen 2 has moved on from the old isometric viewpoint that used a 2D format in a 3D environment. Now Kain wanders the ruins of Nosgarth in a rich visual polygon style more suited to Raziel, his apprentice vampire from the Soul Reaver games. The camera is now firmly positioned in the third person perspective leaving the overall appearance looking similar to many other quality PS2 action titles such as Silent Hill 2, Code Veronica, Alone In The Dark 3 etc. Adding to the overall experience on your senses haunting music is once again neatly combined with the narrators booming tones helping create an atmosphere of tension.
Thankfully, the gory aspect of the original has been retained and this title remains graphically bloodthirsty. There is something menacing about creeping up on an unsuspecting human wandering the murky streets of Nosgarth, decapitating their head and then sucking all six quarts of blood from their torso from more than six feet away.
However, this effect has both good and bad properties. Once a victim has been massacred the graphic engine intelligently works out precisely where each on-screen character is positioned at blood sucking time. It then creates a unique CG cut-scene showing the red river being sucked from the corpse directly into Kain’s mouth. On the downside these brief death scenes occur hundreds, if not thousands of times during gameplay and the initial visual splendor is replaced by a mild frustration of just wanting to get on with things.
Another slight problem with the visuals is the occasional slowdown. This seems to occur regularly when you force the pace of the game and go chasing enemies, but I noticed it doesn’t happen quite as often when you take your time. Regardless, this really shouldn’t be happening… especially since Blood Omen 2 is supposedly a fast paced, combat/action game.
The gameplay tries desperately to hold onto the unique style represented in the original title. Essentially this still involves pulling numerous switches, in correct order, to advance further into Nosgarth. Human blood is once again used to replenish the vampire’s health bar, while drawing the power from special crates increases his ability to use the Dark Gift. For those new to the series, when used, the Dark Gift allows the vampire to acquire stealth by merging his shape into the current surroundings.
Kain can perform many more tasks this time around with jumping, floating, push/pulling crates, picking up and using weapons adding further depth to the proceedings.
Combat moves to the forefront of Blood Omen 2 as Kain has the ability to perform multiple attack combos using claws or collected weapons. He also has a vicious ‘grab move’ that sees him sink his claws into the neck of a victim and then toss the weakened body across the set like a rag doll. Once an enemy drops to the ground wounded they can then be ‘kicked up the butt’ to death, which shouldn’t, but does somehow look mildly amusing.
Now this may all sound very busy and exciting but it all actually left me feeling quite hollow inside. I’ll try to explain. I can understand why the game sets off at such an easy pace, but after the first three levels, when the tempo eventually rises, I was tearing hair from my head in sheer frustration at the sluggishness of the controls. In my opinion blocking plays an important part in combat, especially in this particular game as smart defense is justifiably rewarded. So why is the block action so painfully slow to work? I found the only way to avoid an oncoming barrage was to stop moving and wait for Kain’s arms to drop by his side… THEN press and hold the block button. This process seemed to take an age to perform and not only ruins any fluidity in battle, but also allows an enemy ample time to charge up an unblockable move. Boss fights become an agony to get through rather than an intense part of the action. Such a shame… as with a tweak or two this could have been a great game.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Blood Omen 2' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Martin © Absolute PlayStation
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