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Developer:
Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Platform: Playstation, Dreamcast
Release Date: August 16, 1999

by Josh Ferguson




In Blood Omen, the first installment of the Legacy of Kain series, the gameplay was mainly an RPG style. However, with Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, the main focus has been the action! The protagonist of the game is no longer Kain, either, and is instead an entirely new character.


The story of Soul Reaver takes place hundreds of years after the events of the original Blood Omen. This time, the game is played in the perspective of Raziel, a vampire and the first born of Kain's lieutenants. As time passed, each vampire would evolve, but Kain's evolution would always happen first. However, this all changed one day when Raziel approached his master with wings attached to his back. For his "treachery," Kain casts Raziel into the Lake of the Dead, where he would feel a lifetime of pain and suffering for crossing his master.


But Raziel awakens to find that he is forever changed. Raziel no longer bares a jaw, and the flesh has been burned away from his bones, leaving him without his stomach features, as well. It seems that a god known as the Elder has sparred Raziel from this torment, but in return, Raziel must become the god's "Soul Reaver," which will allow him his revenge on his former master! Of course, Raziel agrees.


Throughout Soul Reaver, Raziel will have to switch back and forth between two different realms. The first of these is known as the spectral realm. The spectral realm is pretty much just an area filled with the spirits of the dead and is where the Elder brings Raziel after his "death." Since Raziel is already dead, he can't technically die, but whenever he falls in combat, he will be brought back to the spectral realm. The next realm is known as the material realm, and is pretty much the real world. While Raziel is here, his life force will constantly deplete, but can be replenished by devouring the souls of his enemies.


Like I said, Raziel can consume the defeated souls of his enemies. In order to consume these souls, Raziel first must defeat them in combat. The combat in Soul Reaver is actually quite simple. While in combat, players can press down the R1 button to autoface an enemy, and then just continuously press the square button. After the enemy is dazed, you must either impale them with a weapon, set them aflame with a torch, or toss them into either water, sunlight, or some pointed objects. After that, their soul will wander around, waiting for Raziel to devour it.


Other than combat, much of Soul Reaver is based on completing puzzles. The game is filled with these and also has a wide variety of types. Heck, even some of the boss battles can only be completed by solving certain puzzles. However, there are so many puzzles that the game can start to become a little bit of a bore. In fact, in order to complete many of the puzzles, you must switch back and forth between the spectral realm and the material realm. The constant switching back and forth can occasionally be a little much, and might turn off some players from the game.


In order for Raziel to have his revenge on Kain, he must first travel through Nosgoth and defeat each of his remaining lieutenants. Since Raziel's "death," each of them has gone through several evolutions, leading to changes in appearance and the acquisition of new abilities. Each time Raziel defeats one of these lieutenants, he will then acquire one of their specific abilities that will help turn the tide in his battle against Kain.


Located in Nosgoth, Raziel can also acquire items known as glyphs that will give him even more abilities. There are several types of glyphs that Raziel can use in his quest against Kain. These include a force glyph, stone glyph, and water glyph. Glyph abilities are used by pressing the select button and then choosing which glyph spell you would like to use. The ability to shift back and forth between the material realm and spectral realm is also a glyph ability.


One of the best things about Soul Reaver is the actual presentation of the game. Sure, the graphics are dated in comparison to the PlayStation 2, but for its time, Soul Reaver had some top-of-the-line graphics. The cinemas look amazing, the character models of Kain and Raziel look great, and the environments are large and very detailed. On the downside, Soul Reaver can occasionally have some problems with the camera... but, hey, what adventure game doesn't? The sound of the game is also done very well, with some excellent voice acting, especially with Raziel, Kain, and the Elder. Soul Reaver's soundtrack is great, and fits perfectly with the dark atmosphere of the game.


For those gamers who can't afford to spend a long period of time on the game, luckily there is the option of saving anywhere you want. While this sounds good, there is also a catch. Players can save the game at any time, but when you re-load your game, you start all the way back with the Elder in the spectral realm. The game does save all of your progress, but you will have to go all the way back to where you were last located.


Overall, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is a great action-adventure game. Whether you're a fan of the action-adventure genre, or just love vampires, Soul Reaver is a highly recommended game. With an exciting story, unique gameplay, and excellent presentation, you can't go wrong with Soul Reaver.


Final Grade: 91%




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