Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain

3_1Bringing Kain back from the dead.

Unlike the cutscene-heavy Soul Reaver games, Blood Omen 2 offers an engrossing mix of puzzles and combat that makes it a proper sequel to the original Legacy of Kain. It’s some 400 years after the events of that game, and Kain finds himself dethroned from his rule. Brought back to full hell by the vampire Umah, he sets out to regain his position as rightful ruler of the realm. He’ll suck up a lot of juicy human blood along the way, too.

Combat is a central gimmick in Blood Omen 2, which brings with it a brand new fighting system. Blocking is just as important as scoring hits, while Kain’s arsenal is boasted by some weapons and a useful array of hand-to-hand combos. Puzzles take a back seat but are also encountered from time to time. They won’t hurt your brain too much – switch flipping and crate pushing will be your main obstacles between the combat sequences.

As Kain amasses special abilities, called the Dark Gifts, the game introduces new obstacles. You’ll have to effectively use the long jumps, mind possession and telekinesis to traverse the later levels. This is nice since it gives you some feeling of advancing your character as the game story moves on. The later levels are also a lot more interesting than the early ones – usually it’s the other way around – so it’s actually worth playing through to the end.

18_1Visually the game is much better than the Sould Reaver titles and, naturally, the original Blood Omen. It’s also a lot more stable, not suffering from the deeded slow-down issues that plagued Soul Reaver on the PlayStation 2. The levels are quite large, as they should be, and utilize an appropriately creepy pallet of textures to give it that dark theme. At least in the later stages – you initially start out in the city of Meridian, but later travel through massive caverns, strange palaces and a beautiful floating asylum.

As far the as the controls go, the game is easy enough to play provided you have a gamepad. The keyboard-mouse combo feels odd, which isn’t very strange when dealing with console ports. Even with a gamepad, however, you do long for a strafing ability. Since the game plays a lot like a shooter / adventure hybrid, having the possibility to strafe is all the more important. But ultimately, Blood Omen 2 is still a well made and satisfying action game, with all of the cool visuals, sounds and gameplay to make it compete with its PC-only betters.

System Requirements: Pentium III 500 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 16 MB Video, Win95

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