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Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (Windows)

80
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.8
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Radoslaw Koncewicz (7)
Written on  :  Jan 12, 2001
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars

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Summary

The butcherized and bastardized sequel to Silicon Knights' classic, but it actually ain't that bad.

The Good

Soul Reaver is a sequel of sorts to Blood Omen: The Legacy of Kain but aside from the partially trademarked names it's really hard to notice the "family resemblance".

The first thing you'll notice in Soul Reaver is the amazing introductory FMV which is further enhanced by the game's simply breathtaking graphics. The 3d engine loads objects on the fly, or rather as you're walking through doors, and is somewhat more reminiscent of a 3rd person Unreal game than that of Blood Omen's. It features high-poly models, a ton of colored lighting effects and huge outdoor areas but it's most impressive aspect is the "double-dimension" effect. As Raziel, the game's protagonist, switches between the real and the ghost world his surroundings literarly morph. The walls twist and bend, the ledges raise and extend, enemies disappear to be replaced by new ones and all of this is accompanied by great lighting effects and done right in front of the player's eyes with no loading time whatsoever. Also, the PSX to PC conversion allowed for 3D acceleration to be used as well as an incease in the resolution which enhances the graphics tremendously, and due to essentially being a game for an iferior console Soul Reaver will run fast on almost all machines using the highest settings possible.

The music and sounds are also phenomenal with the aural tracks done by the Information Society which fit the incredibly gothic mood perfectly. Voice acting in Soul Reaver is also topnotch and idealy complements the great dialogues. The gameplay is often very satisfying combining various aspects of action and adventure genres but unfortunately ignores the previous game's emphasis on spells, equipment and vampire abilites. As Raziel you're able to shift between the two aforemention dimension to solve Tomb Raider esque puzzles, take advantage of the environment to kill the undead and immortal vampires, suck down souls to remain in the real world and use various abilites learned by defeating your undead brethren.

Finally, despite relatively ignoring Nosgoth's setting Soul Reaver introduces it's own world of a post-apocalyptic setting combined with a gothic dark-fantasy feel that in the end is more original than that of Blood Omen but not quite as vibrant or detailed.

The Bad

Soul Reaver's most obvious flaw is almost completely ignoring the original game's plot. Silicon Knights was involved in a lawsuit with Crystal Dynamics and consecutively had nothing to do with the sequel to their game. Despite this setback Soul Reaver could have still closely followed it's predecessor but declined to do so. The gameplay changes could be explained by the change of the title's hero and engine, but various story elements have been thoroughly ruined or ignored. The Elder was introduced without any real purpose or explenation while Hash’ak’gik wasn't mentioned once and has basically been overlooked by the developers. Various fans have tied in the Elder to the Unspoken but even if their theories are true this motive was never explored or even hinted at in the actual game. Even one of Blood Omen's main villans, whose death was one of the most memorable and concluding acts in the game, makes an unconvincing return.

Despite all of this, Soul Reaver's largest setback would have to be the fact that the game was basically cut in half and released nowhere close to being complete. Eidos finally got tired of waiting for Crystal Dynamics to finish the game and in turn made them put out a title that simply is not done. This doesn't mean that Soul Reaver is plagued by bugs and unfinished gameplay features, infact the game's practically "spotless", but instead it simply comes with roughly half of the levels and storyline that it was originally intended to contain.

The Bottom Line

The bottom is line is that Soul Reaver: The Legacy of Kain remains one of the most enjoyable and worthwhile experiences in all of gaming but makes you wish it would have achieved all of it's goals before being released.