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Blood Omen 2

Score: 70%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

While Blood Omen 2 fails to reach some of the graphical goals set forth by other Xbox games, it still looks good. The dark, rat infested streets along with grimy, down right depressing environments do an excellent job of getting the point across that Meridian is not the happiest place on Earth. In fact, it does such a good job of conveying the mood, that many times you will find yourself questioning why you're fighting to gain control of the place.

Kain, as well as his enemies, look good, but their animations leave a lot to be desired. This is very noticeable when Kain switches from animation to animation; it's very stiff and at times looks forced. The blocking animations are great, but to me it looked like more time was spent on getting this right than anything else. I really enjoyed how Kain would change outfits in certain missions depending on his current tasks or station in the vampire resistance.

Perhaps the most annoying and disappointing aspect of the game is the clipping. In the old days, having an enemy fall through a wall or remain suspended in the air was forgivable. Yet, with the power exhibited by the new systems, I find it harder and harder to accept it when these things happen. Seeing an enemy fall near the edge of a cliff and remain suspended in the air because his ankle is touching the floor kills the immersion that the environments try so hard to project.


Gameplay:

After a forced century-long slumber, Kain awakes on the wrong side of the bed, thirsty for revenge. However, the world Kain awakens to is far different from the one he left. Over the years his vampires have been all but erased from existence and forced into hiding. Kain sets out on a bloodthirsty mission of vengeance in order to regain control of his kingdom.

Defining Kain is a bit of a task. He is not the hero - that is for sure, but he is not exactly the villain either. I could call him the anti-hero, but that label does not fit either. Kain is just Kain - that is the best way to say it.

At its core, Blood Omen 2 is your typical adventure game. You run through linear worlds solving puzzles and fighting enemies. There is really nothing new here. However, the game does offer a new dimension with the inclusion of Dark Gifts. As Kain progresses through his quest, he regains his vampire abilities such as mind-control and the ability to turn into mist. Using the gifts are perhaps the best part of a game that is, for the most part, typical of the genre.


Difficulty:

Blood Omen 2 has some definite balance issues that don't kill the game, but maim it. The most obvious is the combat. Enemies block way too much and when they do attack, it is usually to perform an unblockable attack. This frustrated me to no end, especially considering that Kain has to build up a meter to unleash an attack. Boss battles are also some of the most frustrating areas of the game. The amount of damage they are able to do in relation to the damage you inflict back are very unbalanced and result in repeated fights with bosses. Bottom line - this is a hard game.

Game Mechanics:

Guiding Kain on his quest is very easy thanks to an almost intuitive control scheme. My only real complaint was Kain's reaction times - he is just way to slow. Vampires are supposed to be agile creatures, yet Kain is about as mobile as a lead brick. This adds to the frustrating combat balance. I also did not like that Kain has no move to attack victims when they are on the ground. As ruthless as the game projects Kain to be, you had better believe he would take the opportunity to kick an enemy while they are down.

Going back to the balance issue, I couldn't understand why using some of the high-powered 'hold' attacks didn't kill people. For example, when you grab an enemy by the throat and stab him through the heart with a sword, he will get up. However, if you use the low-powered attack, a blow with the butt of the sword, your victim will die.

Speaking of killing enemies, this game definitely earns its Mature rating since it is one of the goriest games I have seen in awhile. The sheer number of kills Kain can perform is astounding, making this game something you may want to keep away from younger gamers or those with weak constitutions.

Overall, Blood Omen 2 offers a fun adventure, yet it is not a rewarding one. It's fun to play as the bad guy, but after you have completed the game there is not much to make you want to go back and play again.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Microsoft Xbox Blinx: The Time Sweeper Microsoft Xbox Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon

 
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