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Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 (Windows)

81
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  munchner (11)
Written on  :  Sep 16, 2002
Platform  :  Windows
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Summary

A narrow, one way alley, but it's great to play and there are no block puzzles!

The Good

There was much to love about Soul Reaver 2. The graphics, for one, were fantastic. Not as good throughout the game as in the opening movie of course, but they were still great, you could see the expressions on all the character's faces as they gibbered. THe magical effects with the Soul Reaver and the Forges were also very impressive and put Star Wars to shame. The storyline, as anyone who has played other Legacy of Kain games will tell you, is fantastic. The history of the world of Nosgoth is immense, vastly complicated (and more so due to time travel) and fascinating. In this game, you get to bounce through three eras of it, watching how Raziel's influence changed history millennia ago and led up to his vampiric birth, etc. One of the cooler things about time travel is that you can see the world in different states. The first period you start in features a darkened swamp, fertile grasslands and forests, and vast caverns. There are two more, which I won't reveal, but each one changes the locations enough that you can reach new areas, explore more of Nosgoth, and it's really cool to see how all the pieces fit together in the way things change. You get to see the swamp in three eras, as well as the Sarafan Castle ranging from snow-covered to squatted in, to ruined and full of demons. The puzzles are another area where the game shines. There are no block puzzles throughout it, they all rely on ingenious means of hauling blood around in basins, casting shadows and light, activating torches, etc and every one is among the best puzzles I've ever seen. Not that I've seen many, but these are superb. Every time you figure one out you'll be amazed at the genius of it. (It's too bad the people that did the puzzles here didn't do them on Blood Omen 2, which had horrible block-and-switch puzzles with no variety) However, there are five puzzles throughout the game and even I who hate puzzles, found myself wanting more.

The Bad

The worst part, which you'll notice at once, is the dialogue. Oh, it's nice and short and sweet in the opening movie, but from there on it becomes an infinity of incomprehensible Shakespearean babbling which not even an English Major could sort through. The plot is confusing enough already without everyone beating around the bush. Unfortunately, this talk is all PART of the plot, because everyone you meet (there are only about 4 major characters including the one you play, the rest are basically bit parts, with one exception who doesn't get enough screen time to really be major)...basically everyone is lying to you, trying to get you to do what they want. And its hard enough to figure out what anybody REALLY wants you to do. However, Raziel has a no-bull attitude and isn't playing anybody's puppet...except when he can't help it. Second, the fights were, to put it simply, a walk in the park. For the first half of the game you never had to block or dodge or even do anything except mash that 'Light Attack' button. Then, suddenly, the enemies become immensely harder, and you have to basically die a lot until you get good enough to beat THEM by button mashing too. There are a medium size variety of foes in the game, but the tactics are identical for all of them, and aside from the occasional jump over an attack, or running stab, you win by just whacking away until they give out. Even Blood Omen 2 has a better fighting style than this. All the fights were atrociously easy (except the first few demons who were atrociously hard until you got used to their style) and really dissapointed me. Finally, the game is entirely linear. There is absolutely no side material, you simply walk straight from one point to another, with a cutscene at each major turn, solving puzzles that are straight in your path. You can't choose your directions at all, and in fact there's only one point in the game where it's not shaped like a narrow corridor which you have to walk along (whether it's in churches or castles or canyons) and in that place, you're just taking a slightly alternate route to the same point. The areas you play in are all pretty little, too. You just spend the whole game running back and forth between two ends of a long, straight path.

The Bottom Line

Overall....hard one. I certainly enjoyed the game, even if the fights were a pushover. It was great fun to watch the massive plot unfold under your nose, and twists popped up at every corner, and this game got me interested in the rest of the Legacy of Kain series, the rest of which is also great. If you like epic stories as well as fun gameplay, check this game out. If all you like is intense hand-to-hand, gut wrenching, edge of your seat action, look somewhere else. But to anybody who enjoys intrigue and drama with their zombie-hacking, this should keep you happy, and for a great price as well.