Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2 (PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox & PC)

Developer(s) – Crystal Dynamics & Nixxes Software VB

Publisher(s) – Eidos Interactive

Director – Glen Schofield

Producer – Sam Newman

Garnishing high commercial sales, but low critical scores from most reviewers at the time of it’s release back in 2002, Blood Omen 2 takes place in between the original events of both the original Blood Omen and Soul Reaver, telling the story of the events leading up to how the vampire Kain began to build his own empire throughout the land of Nosgoth. Although this game is one of the lowest ranking games in the series on both Metacritic and GameRankings, in my opinion, that’s not to say that it’s bad; not by a long shot.

Graphics – 7.5/10

The visuals may not be among the most astounding of the sixth generation from a technical standpoint, the conceptual design is outstanding, with the game taking place in nigh in eerily empty towns, industrial strongholds and vast castles; all the while, the game maintaining an extremely dark and imposing atmosphere. And despite the fact that many of the NPCs in towns are simply mainly copies of two or three character sprites, there is a fair amount of diversity in enemy design, as well as boss design, with the player having to fight against such enemies as the Hylden race and oversized insects.

Gameplay – 7/10

The developers were looking to create a more action-oriented Legacy of Kain game, and it’s certainly made evident in Blood Omen 2. Whilst the combat doesn’t play as big a role as it did in the original Blood Omen game, there’s enough in Blood Omen 2 to keep the game entertaining throughout, with an arsenal of weapons to use, and abilities to take advantage of certain situations with. For example, the mist ability can be used to perform stealth kills and the jump ability can be used to kill enemies from great distances. And though there is considerably less of a puzzle solving element to this title, unlike the two games in the Soul Reaver series, there are a few instances that require some lateral thinking, such as when having to use the charm ability to posses people into opening certain doors or lowering bridges in order to advance.

Controls – 8/10

The problem with the control scheme in Blood Omen 2 is that the moving and walking mechanics can feel quite stiff. It reminds me somewhat of Blasto, whereby the camera needed to be moved in order to turn in different directions; albeit this game’s controls are nowhere near as annoying as the aforementioned example. Regardless, however, the combat system has been handled by the developers surprisingly well under the circumstances, having a kind of Ocarina of Time feel to it, in the ability to lock onto targets and manoeuvre around them, so I don’t think too many marks should be taken away from the game in this respect.

Lifespan – 7/10

For a linear action-adventure platforming game, 15 to 20 hours is a fairly impressive amount of time to last. It may feel like a step down compared to many other games in the series, especially the original Blood Omen, but it still lasted about as long as most other good games released around the same time, such as the original Jak & Daxter or Ratchet and Clank. There is also some replay value, as there is a code that can be imputed on the title screen, which will give Kain the ability to wield both the Soul Reaver and the iron armour he wore in the original Blood Omen game; although of course, the code is different for each port of the game.

Storyline – 10/10

I’ve highlighted a few times throughout my blogging career that the Legacy of Kain series easily has my favourite video game story of all time (albeit unfinished), and this game is simply a telling of one out of the five main chapters. After the events of the first Blood Omen, the vampire Kain builds up an army of vampires, appointing four legionaries in the process, and resolves to take the land of Nosgoth for himself. However, he is opposed by another army known as the Sarafan, a band of fanatical humans, which had once been disbanded, but are newly revived by their mysterious leader, known only as the Sarafan Lord. The two armies collide at the capital of Nosgoth, Meridian, and Kain clashes with the Sarafan Lord; the battle ending with the Sarafan Lord dispatching Kain, and taking from him his legendary sword, the Soul Reaver. 200 years later, Kain awakes from a dormant state to find that a small vampiric resistance faction called the Cabal had restored him back to health. Within the time Kain had been asleep, the Sarafan have taken over Nosgoth themselves, enslaving humanity and hunting down every vampire they can find. Kain joins the Cabal and sets out on a quest to defeat the Sarafan, and their lord, and thus resume his ascent to power with the end goal of ruling over Nosgoth at last. Blood Omen 2 is considered weaker in story than the others, but I personally find it just as enthralling as any other entry in the series.

Originality – 6/10

Although this title may not be overly original in terms of gameplay, and even visual style to any great extent, the overall concept and the progression of the series’ story serves to keep it relatively fresh, and make it stand out among many other games released at the time. Indeed, I’ve noticed that throughout gaming history, there hasn’t been a great many mainstream games released that focus on vampirism; the only ones I can think of off the top of my head are either Castlevania or Bloodrayne.

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To summarize, I happen to think that Blood Omen 2 is fairly underrated, and despite it’s few flaws, is a game worth playing through more than once. With action-packed and varied combat, coupled with the continuation of an incredible story (one that doesn’t even necessarily require players to have played any of the previous games), it will keep players extremely entertained for a pretty impressive amount of time.

Score

45.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)

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