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Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2

Alone in the night, a shadowy figure quietly steps into the mist, blade in hand. In seconds, the figure disappears into the mist, creeping along slowly gaining on an unassuming guard, now just inches ahead. Soon, the cold shaft of the blade is driven through the guard’s neck and removed as the hapless foe’s body thumps against the ground. The sword is sheathed, and now our anti-hero Kain, a vampire of the night, feeds on his departed foe.

That’s pretty much it.

The Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2 is, quite ironically, the sequel to the Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen. Having never played the original one, I can’t really tell you about any changes since the first one or the relation of the stories from the first to the second, outside of what the manual says of course. Blood Omen 2 begins with Kain being brought back to life after being killed in the war between vampires and The Sarafan, or human forces, 200 years ago. After Kain’s army of vampires was destroyed, the humans freely ruled the world and prospered, sending the few remaining vampires into hiding. Kain joins up with the underground resistance, the Cabal, in an effort to get revenge over the Sarafan Lord who stripped him of his most prized possession, the Soul Reaver. The game is divided up into a series of 11 chapters, each beginning and ending with you meeting with an NPC and watching the story progress a bit.

The game is all about two things: Action and Tomb Raider – style puzzles. Fortunately, the action is pretty good. You get to use all sorts of different weapons, from your hands to swords, and you’re granted special abilities that you learn over time, called Dark Gifts. These skills are gained after a battle with a boss and allow you to do different things. One gift allows you to leap across large chasms onto enemies to kill them, while others deal with attack and speed. My favorite Dark Gift is easily the “Mist” Gift, which allows Kain to slip into the fog, invisible to the guards, and easily run up behind them and kill the fool without him knowing what happened, like I described above. The really cool thing is that the attacks that you use vary depending on the weapon that you are using, so each Dark Gift looks a bit different.

The combat in Blood Omen 2 is rather simple. You lock onto your enemy with one trigger and block to the other. The combat is pretty basic, as only one button is assigned to attack your enemies. One part of the combat that I particularly enjoyed was being armed with a sword and using Kain’s ability to pick up opponents by the throat, and bashing them repeatedly with the sword in midair. After their dead, you suck the blood out of them: but Kain isn’t your traditional blood-sucker, he sucks the blood from 4 feet away out of their chest. It’s topped off by Kain wiping the blood that missed off his face. The level of violence in Blood Omen 2 makes it a very satisfying game.

Unfortunately, there are puzzles added into it. The puzzles are just annoying and don’t fit with the action theme of the game. They just slow it down too much and are incredibly simple and easily spelled out for you. If you walk up to a crate that you can use, it glows brightly. Pretty much any object in the world that you can use is brighter than anything else, making it so overtly obvious that it makes Blood Omen 2 mind-numbing to play for long periods. By the point that this starts bothering you, you realize how repetitive the game is as well.

Progression of Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2

1) A cutscene with one of various vampires telling you to go somewhere and do something at that point.
2) Wander through incredibly linear areas, killing every person that you find.
3) Meet up with person that the vampire told you to, and then get told to go somewhere and do something at that point.
4) Wander through incredibly linear areas, killing every person that you find.

Get it?

Graphically, Blood Omen 2 looks like a PS2 game, which isn’t bad, but there aren’t too many Xbox enhancements. There are a few little graphical flaws though, which pissed me off on several occasions. For one, there’s a bunch of clipping. I was fighting a guy and he fell through a gate, and I couldn’t finish him off because he wasn’t dead. Another time, I killed some peasant women and her head went through a wall. I also got stuck on objects in the world, for no apparent reason. Once, I jumped across an area and hit an object, and instead of falling into the water below, I just hovered there, Kain shaking like he was having a seizure.

The NPC models are all fairly well done, but grow quickly repetitive, just like the gameplay. However, the vampires that Kain encounters throughout the game all look great, as do most of the characters that play pivotal plot roles. Kain himself is animated well enough, but again he suffers from repetition as well. The medieval environments in the game look pretty good, but like everything else in Blood Omen 2, they become…well, you know the word, I don’t want to say it because I’ll start to sound it.

The sound is oddly where the game shines the most, and least. All of the important characters have great voice-overs, but all of the minor characters don’t. What is this, Eidos being lazy? I’d never expect that from them! Fortunately, most of the dialogue between pivotal characters is very well done, and the dialogue isn’t over the top as it easily could be. The music is practically non-existent, but it gets the job done and fits the game pretty well. It’s very ominous and well composed.

Overall, Blood Omen 2 is a very, very linear and repetitive game. But, the violence and easy gameplay make it a very simple game to get into, and if you’re captured by the story then you’ll play the game through. It’s not too terribly long, but the longer you play the game the longer it feels, and the mind-numbing nature of it can drive you nuts. It’s a pretty cool game to play, but don’t expect Panzer Dragoon Orta in terms of gameplay and depth.

5 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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