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Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Wow. Wow, wow, wow. The graphics in Legacy of Kain are gorgeous. Sure, the textures arenít rounded like in Quake III or whatever, but man oh man, the first time you see the world morph from the Spirit world to the Real world and see the entire structure change around you, youíll be aghast. This game is gorgeous. The structures are amazingly detailed, the character models are even more so -- I spent minutes just getting close-ups of Razielís face so I could see his jawless grin when he sucked a soul -- and it plays without a hitch on my system. The transparency effects of the water are something to behold when youíre in the spirit world. Mmm. This game hits it all graphically, except for a few crazy glitches -- heads through walls, projectiles turning transparent permanently, stuff like that. They subtract from the game experience, but only minimally.

One thing that doesnít subtract at all is the sound. The sound effects are excellent, with good chunky thwacks when you smack a vampire upside the head and a satisfying scrunch when you impale them. And the voice acting, much like the voice acting in the original game, is superb. Other than a few graphical glitches, this gameís presentation shines.


Gameplay:

Mmm. Soul Reaver plays better than pretty much any 3rd person action/adventure Iíve ever played. It blows away the Tomb Raider series. The game starts long after the first one in the ďseries,Ē Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, but Kainís back and just as naughty as ever.

Youíre Raziel, once the right-hand man of Kain, and now a decrepit walking corpse existing for no other reason than revenge. You are a Soul Reaver, and you must eat souls to remain in the soul of the living. Of course, being dead, you cannot truly die -- you simply get thrown into a parallel world, the Spirit world, when you lose all your health in the real world, and if you lose all of your health there, you get cast back to the starting location of the game. Of course, trekking back to where you were in the game, ďwarp gatesĒ aside is often punishment enough. Throughout your travels, youíll slay lots of vampires -- which you need to burn with sunlight or impale, else they donít die -- solve lots of location puzzles (How do I get past here? Where is the switch I need to flip?), and see lots of beautiful scenery. Youíll enjoy every minute of it, too. Even when youíre stuck as to where to go, itís enjoyable to just roam around the world and slip into the Spirit world and see the differences between the two. In fact, quite a few puzzles require you to slip between the two to get past certain obstacles.

True to the nature of the game, as you progress, Raziel gains new attacks and abilities, such as the ability to slip through gates or touch water unimpeded. His tattered wings also allow him a limited gliding ability.

The world is pretty big, pretty detailed, but unfortunately, the game ends a touch too quickly. After doing a touch of research, it seems that the game wasnít really supposed to end where it did, but getting the game out necessitated a release. Quite alright, though -- the gameís still a ton of fun, ďfullĒ or not. Its depressing, dark setting does nothing more than add to the ambiance, and really gets you into the feel of the game, to feel what it is to be Raziel. The rather common voiceovers help to move the plot along as well, as you search for your brothers and Kain himself in your quest for revenge.


Difficulty:

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver isnít too hard, but itís not too easy, either -- it all depends on where you are. The occasional jumping puzzles may frustrate you at first, but once you master the gameís controls, theyíre not that bad. Same thing with combat -- mastery breeds excellence.

Game Mechanics:

The gameís controls are spot-on, which is no surprise, considering itís pretty much a port of a console game. Console games have to have good control, and it migrated well. (The graphics got a serious improvement over the PSX version, but thatís more because of resolution than anything else.) The combat engine is tight, and makes for some great cinematic moments, like whipping around a column to stab an unsuspecting vampire in the back and subsequently lifting him off the ground by the spear. Good stuff.

If Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver were longer and if there werenít quite as many graphical glitches, it would be gaming perfection. As it is, get it anyway -- you wonít regret it. Itís good, macabre fun.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:



Pentium 133 MHz+ (or faster), 4MB 3D card, Microsoft Windows 95/98, 32MB RAM, Microsoft compatible pointing device & keyboard, 4X CD-ROM, 256-color SVGA monitor, soundblaster compatible speakers
 

Test System:



AMD K6-III 450 running Windows 98, 256MB RAM, Creative Sound Blaster Live! Sound Card, Creative TNT2 Ultra w/32MB RAM, 6x24 DVD-ROM

Windows Kingpin: Life of Crime Windows Puzz 3D: Bavarian Castle

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated