Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2

Mischief Maker 12/18/2002 

This is a game about vampires.

Vampires are super strong, turn into mist and bats and wolves, drink people's blood, are totally immune to bullets and swords, and can get it on with any chick they want because of their hypnotic eyes. Now imagine for a minute the dozens of kickass games you could make featuring any one of those powers.

Crystal Dynamics instead chose to ignore all these powers and make a game that revolves around the ability of vampires to point out how ironic their situation is every two minutes.

Soul Reaver 1 had so many block puzzles that at times you couldn't tell if you were seeking revenge from beyond the grave or seeking admittance to a montessouri school. Soul Reaver 2 fixed that problem of block puzzles, not by replacing them with more clever puzzles, but by removing all but the most drool-bib obvious puzzles and upping the combat. This is not a good thing. First of all, the combat's somehow more clumsy and simplistic than Soul Reaver 1 and it gets tiring fast. Second of all, in Soul Reaver 1 your enemies were Vampires, mutant vampires at that! In Soul Reaver 2 your enemies are puny mortals armed with swords and spears and... get ready for the horror... puppy dogs in armor. Yes, the game designers decided that a game about tearing undead vampires to shreds and devouring their souls wasn't nearly as exciting as doing the same to puppy dogs. In fact, the armored puppy dogs were so important to the game designers they made two different designs for them (Bear in mind the game has about 7 different character designs and no bosses.)

Yeah, it's a given that Blood Omen and Soul Reaver 1 were the gimpy disfigured cousins of the Zelda games, but I enjoyed them regardless because at least they were smarter and nastier. Blood Omen was fun by letting you play an evil-for-the-sake-of-evil protagonist with good voice work for once. Soul Reaver had one of the cooler concepts for a game I've heard, "How do you save the world dominated by super powerful immortal vampires? With something worse than a vampire, complete with a hideous tentacled cthuloid thing for a master." Beating the crap out of vampires in the middle of a ruined keep in the middle of a post-apocalyptic fantasy wasteland is one of my favorite little "moments" in video games.

Soul Reaver 2's plot is an Anne Rice whinefest. Vampires brood over how much it sucks to be super powered and immortal and how persecuted they are by the humans whose blood they drink every night. Then they point out how ironic the situation is. The whole point of the game is that Raziel's chasing Kain through time to kill him, but every time he catches Kain (About 3 dozen times, if you're wondering) he just starts yakking and whining until Kain gets bored and teleports away. Then Raziel comments on how ironic the situation is. It's just fucking sad.

And don't let the whole time travel concept fool you into thinking the game's got at least one cool concept. It's just a trick that lets the developers get away with using the same three levels over and over again with slightly different textures on the walls each time. 90% of the game takes place in one of these three places: the grey and ugly Stronghold of the Sarafan, some random brown and green swamp, and a long alleyway through the forest jam packed with puny mortals and puppy dogs that for some reason takes a direct detour through the elder god's pit. And no, you never get the chance to explore, the whole fucking game's on rails from start to finish.

Is this you?
Yeah, the Legacy of Kain games have always sucked, but they've also had a certain charm that's made them worth bargain bin prices. Not Soul Reaver 2. Unless you're wearing leather and tear streaked black eyeshadow there's not a goddamn thing in this sequel that'll appeal to you.

I could make a better vampire game with The Count from Sesame Street.

Mischief Maker

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