If you think Kain the Vampire Lord from Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver was the most interesting character then here is your chance to play the bad guy - Four hundred years on from the original 2D story this action adventure is still cashing in on our desires to be intrinsically evil and suck the blood of the peasants about us.
You awake to find the gothic but punky city of Nosgoth ruled by the previously defeated vampire hunters, the Sarafan Order. Stripped from power, your armies are slain, your castle in ruins and wealth stolen you are now on a quest for vengeance. Working with the vampiric resistance, Caal, to rid the land of the dictatorial Sarafan ecclesiastics and their glowing Glyph magic you are out to suck blood.
The lure of being the bad guy and joining the dark side is a truly addictive and distinctive element of the game. Starting with 2 abilities Mist (which shrouds you from the enemy) and Fury (manic combat attack) you pick up new magical skills as you defeat the baddies in the story. Adding insult to injury, after killing the enemy you rob them of abilities and weapons and while combat is limited every weapon has its own gruesome finishing move.
Cloaked in stealth, and acting somewhat sneakily, it's often as useful to avoid an enemy as to attack them. The AI intelligence works based on how you have acted until that point in the story line. While its hard to believe that a city on the look out for blood gargling activity doesn't notice Kain wandering about more often, there is a sense of the thrill when the fodder peasants flee. Jumping from roof to roof over the top of the herds of prey you get a real sense of exactly what it's like to be an evil predator.
A massive task of sucking blood to increase stamina while thoroughly amusing to begin with particularly from several feet away loses some of the appeal after the first few hours. Strangling and bloodsucking aside death can get creative in Blood omen2. With the freedom to explore levels the ability to throw people off a cliff and watch them plunge to their deaths or to tip toe behind someone and rip out their still beating heart means "ways to meet a gory death" should be explored.
Its easy to see how keeping the puzzles simple is necessary to keep the game moving, but its almost as if they have been dumbed down a bit to far. Almost every task involves finding the cure all lever to move on. Story line is linear, there isn't much running to and fro, battles and puzzles come in sequence as you move ever forward.
As with all good Vampire stories there is a nice dose of English accent about all the characters, but it's a struggle to know whether it's a posh Eastenders cast or the Royal Shakespeare Company doing the voices. The Music though is excellent and is the first for a while that actually meets the needs of the game, all adding to the compelling and lush steamy environment.
On the whole the graphics are really good, the detail on the characters is fantastic, but this in some ways may explain some appalling slow down occasionally experienced in Blood Omen 2. Every thought might have gone into the new romantic environment but sometimes it can all feel a bit empty.
After all sucking blood, killing guards and bosses is not the deepest of activities to do alone.
All problems with camera angles have been fixed by a constant positioning directly behind Kain and for those prone to motion sickness this may take a bit of getting used to, it works though and means an unhampered view of all the blood lust action.
If the weaker puzzle element is going to bother you opt for Soul Reaver 2. If you are not confused by the thought that a blood-sucking vampire can save the world this substantial adventure will take some time to play so you are definitely getting value for money. There is no doubt this is at the top end of the third person adventure genre and fans of original and Legacy of Kain series will be delighted with Blood Omen 2.Overall score: 7 out of 10
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Recommended Price: £34.99
Available: NowBuy Legacy Of Kain: Blood Omen 2 for the PS2 from Amazon