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Developer:
Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Platform: PS2, PC
Release Date: October 29, 2001

by Josh Ferguson




In 2001, gamers once again returned to the role of Raziel in the PlayStation 2 game, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2. Considering the success of the original Soul Reaver, the sequel has some pretty high expectations. Does Soul Reaver 2 do justice to the original? Well, read on to find out.


Soul Reaver 2 opens with a cinema of some of the events of the original game. In the cinema, we see that Raziel has finally found Kain, but soon after, Kain escapes his clutches into a time portal. Still seeking revenge, Raziel follows his former master into the portal and comes to find himself located in Nosgoth's past. Afterwards, Raziel continues his search for his former master, and soon comes to the realization that he and Kain alone control the future of Nosgoth.


The original Soul Reaver's combat system was pretty basic and easy to understand. While the sequel carries most of the same ideas as the original, it has evolved some since the first Soul Reaver. Raziel can now use light attacks, which are faster but do less damage, by pressing the square button, or he can use heavy attacks, which are slower but do more damage, by pressing the triangle button. Both heavy and light attacks can be used in combinations by repeatedly pressing them. Raziel can also block incoming attacks from his enemies, rather than having to always dodge them. This can be done by pressing the L1 button. Speaking of dodging, it seems that option has been updated since the original game. Like the original, by autofacing and then pressing the x button, Raziel can dodge incoming attacks. But, it seems that this option works a lot easier and flows smoother than the original. Of course, with all of the changes, there had to have been one thing removed. This was the ability to throw your enemies. In the original Soul Reaver, Raziel was able to knock out an enemy and then throw them in sunlight, water, or spikes on the wall. However, this was taken out of the game. Instead, Raziel can use telekinetic blasts to launch enemies across the screen.


As far as weaponry is concerned, in the original everyone loved wielding the mighty powerful Soul Reaver. However, unless your HP was completely full, you were unable to use it. Well, for the most part, in Soul Reaver 2, no matter what your HP, Raziel will be able to bare the Reaver. However, wielding the blade will consume the souls of the enemies you have defeated. And since Raziel still must consume the souls of his victims to survive, chances are you might have to occasionally disarm the Reaver in order to survive.


Even though the Reaver was a fairly important part of the first Soul Reaver, it really wasn't too important to the actual game. Now that Raziel can wield the blade at will, the Reaver has become quite a bit more important in not only combat, but in solving certain puzzles. In order to solve many puzzles, Raziel must first power the Reaver up by locating different elemental powers. There are four different elemental powers that must be cast on the blade in order to seek passage in certain areas of the game.


Soul Reaver 2 also features many of the same puzzle aspects of the original game. Like I said, there are the areas that can only be accessed by using the four elemental powers, but there are also some where Raziel will have to climb blocks, carry key items from one point to another, and many of the same ideas as the original, but with even more. Raziel will also be forced to go in and out of the spectral and material realm in order to finish some of these puzzles, but if you have played the original Soul Reaver, you shouldn't have too many problems with that by now.


Like the original, one of the best things about Soul Reaver 2 is the actual presentation of the game. Graphically, the game still resembles the original, but with very much improvement. The character model of Raziel once again looks excellent, as well as other characters, including Kain and Moebius. Soul Reaver 2 also contains some excellent-looking environments that are both large and very detailed. Cinematics, again, also are excellent-looking and can also be viewed over and over by pressing the start button and going to Dark Chronicles. The sound is once again top notch, and the same voice actors from some of the previous Legacy of Kain games make appearances.


One of my biggest complaints about the original Soul Reaver was the amount of backtracking that you were forced to do. While you could save your game any time you wanted, once you would reload your save, Raziel would be located all the way down with the Elder and would have to walk back to where you were in the actual game. This became very annoying, especially if you didn't have long periods of time to play the game. Luckily, in Soul Reaver 2, saving your game doesn't mean that you have to back-track at all. Once you reload your game, you will be located in the exact location you saved at. However, you can no longer save wherever you want, but only at save points located in Nosgoth.


For those gamers who have played through the earlier Legacy of Kain games, you will notice that many of the earlier characters will make an appearance in Soul Reaver 2. While it isn't exactly necessary to play the other games in the series, it is still recommended. Soul Reaver 2 does show why Raziel wants his revenge on Kain, but unless you have played the other games in the series, the story can become a bit confusing at times.


With a few changes, an interesting story, and a great presentation, Soul Reaver 2 carries on much of the same greatness of the original. Soul Reaver 2 is highly recommended to those fans that enjoyed the original game or to those who wish to start up with the series. Like I said earlier, it isn't necessary to play the predecessors, but it will make it a little less confusing.


Final Grade: 87%




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