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Reviewed: Legacy of Kain 2: Soul Reaver
Author: Michael "" Ahlf       Date: November 4th 1999
Page: 3

Storyline in the game is both a saving grace and a fatal flaw. The in-game cinematics and video clips were magnificent and well-placed. I actually felt for Raziel as he entered his brothers' domains and contemplated how far they had fallen, or saw one of his brothers impaled by three staves. The opening cinematic -- Raziel's death -- was equally gorgeous. The Elder's guidance came likewise to aid me, immersing me in storyline. However, players will be completely turned off by the ending of the game once they get past the final fight. Where one expects a long cinematic, one gets a short conversation and the three most dreaded words in a video game -- "to be continued..."

The AI of the game, truthfully, is just plain pathetic and is part of the reason why the fighting portion is so easy. Enemies won't dodge much from basic fistfighting, meaning you can beat them to a pulp. The bosses, meanwhile, all follow set patterns and don't shift their attacks. Even Kain is simple in theory to defeat, though not as much so in practice. AI takes an extreme second in this game to the invention and thinking involved in solving the puzzles, and that's about all that can be said. The hardest enemies to defeat, truthfully, are those vampires who have gained immunity to water: while they have morphed into sharklike bodies, you haven't, and so it's almost impossible to really battle them unless you can trick them into coming onto land (and remember not to throw them back).

The Abyss is below, but the
waterfalls are nice.
You'd never make this jump without
your wings to glide on.
If you're careful a well-placed attack
will shove him right into
the fire.

The graphics of the game could hardly be better: everything is crisp and clear and lifelike. The water sparkles from waterfalls, your sword (the "Soul Reaver") sizzles like lightning, and your wings are impressive even for shredded wisps of their former glory. When shifting from the material to spectral plane or vice versa, things twist and distort, showing how much time was taken to deal with this effect. Every locale matches what should be there -- a broken-down cathedral has a still,silent feel to it while the site of a vampire massacre has battle damage and impaled corpses everywhere. Exceptionally impressive are the Abyss, a central part of the storyline and the world (you'll pass it many times traveling to other areas of the world of Nosgoth) and a lighthouse which holds the key to the Sunlight magic glyph. Take special care to check out the waterfalls of the Abyss, as you won't be disappointed.

A piece of your past...
The old gathering place of the Clans...
how it has fallen.
A friendly spirit gives you advice on
where to proceed next.

Audio in the game was equally wonderful: the music and sounds contribute to the game as much as the impressive visuals do. Your footsteps echo through empty halls, staves make thud noises when hitting enemies and then clang when they hit a wall. As the Soul Reaver charges for a killing blow, hear it sizzle and crackle with energy. Finally there are the voices: all match what they should, from the grunts of the feral vampires to the decadent voices of your brethren, and the high-born sound of Kain as he details his plans to you. This game proves how much sound helps in immersing the player in a game.

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Added:  Thursday, November 04, 1999
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Score:
Page: 3/5

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