Legacy Of Kain: Blood Omen 2  
Back into the past of Nosgoth.

HarryIn 1996, a dark RPG developed by Crystal Dynamics was released on Sony Playstation. The game was called Blood Omen: Legacy Of Kain – it was just the beginning of one of the most complex series of videogames ever created.

Three games of the Legacy Of Kain series have been released so far, two on PsOne (Blood Omen and Soul Reaver) and one on Playstation 2 (Soul Reaver 2). In the month of October, we have dedicated a special feature divided in three parts to Soul Reaver 2.

I would suggest to all the newcomers to read our Chapter 1: The Story Of Nosgoth before proceeding with this preview.

The story of Blood Omen 2
Blood Omen 2 starts 400 years after the events of the first Blood Omen and about one thousand years before the events of Soul Reaver. After the destruction of the pillars, Kain became the ruler of the land of Nosgoth. Two hundred years after this event, a mysterious figure, with the support of the Sarafan Knights spoiled Kain of his powers and of his weapon, the Soul Reaver. His brethren were savagely killed and Kain himself was considered dead. Now, members of a vampire resistance with its base in Meridian, the capitol of Nosgoth, have resurrected him. Kain starts his exploration of a world that looks completely transformed, in seek of vengeance against the ones who perpetrated the massacre, in need of his lost powers and of the Soul Reaver .

The Knights have now full control on the city. The humans have discovered a strange form of energy – the Glyph Technology – that powers the whole city. The energy is used not only to activate machines and illuminate the streets of Meridian but also to control the vampires who survived the massacre. Many of them decided to pass to the side of the Sarafan Knights, while others have been confined out of town. In fact, vampires are not able to pass through zones powered by the Glyph Technology.

The gameplay
Blood Omen 2 is an action/adventure game based on a complex and refined combat system created by the developers of Crystal Dynamics. If you have played Soul Reaver 2 at least once you should have noticed the elegance of the combat system. The game takes the premises of the wonderful combat system of Soul Reaver 2, at the same time introducing new elements that enrich the gaming experience.

From the movies of the game in action, it’s possible to notice that Kain and his enemies are able to perform an incredible series of attack and defence moves. Kain can block great part of the attacks of his enemies making good use of a weapon or simply using his metal arm plates.

During his quest, Kain has to fight armies of humans – first of all Sarafan Knights – and supernatural creatures like demons. As the king of vampires, Kain is gifted with extraordinary skills and a terrifying strength. His claws alone are enough to kill almost any enemy in the game. Anyhow, Kain can use a vast assortment of weapons divided into eight classes. From poles to enormous swords that seem to come from a Final Fantasy game, from daggers to maces, the developers have filled the game with a mighty series of gothic weapons. Kain can perform a set of bloody special moves, unstoppable attacks and nimble combos with each of these weapons equipped. This surely makes things even more interesting for all the lovers of pure fighting games. Adding to that, each weapon has a limited lifespan. In this way, the player has to continuously create a precise strategy to find his way through the dark places of Meridian.

During the game, Kain will have to regain all his lost abilities, called Dark Gifts. At the beginning of the adventure, Kain can use only three of them – invisibility, silent glide and of course blood-sucking. A vampire constantly needs new blood to feed his earthly body and Kain can feed on the corpse of his opponents. The Silent Glide ability lets Kain fall from deadly eights with no danger or noise at all; in this way he can avoid being detected by enemies. Often, stealth action will be necessary to survive in the city of Meridian. For this purpose, Kain can use another Gift, invisibility – a sort of archaic equivalent of Metal Gear Solid’s stealth suits. This ability lets Kain move through shadows unseen. Proceeding in the game, Kain will gain other abilities like force blast, necessary to destroy certain obstacles, super-jump and charm, a useful ability that lets Kain manipulate the mind of the humans at his will.

As Kain, you will have to make use of your intelligence to proceed in the game. Many puzzles, in great part based on the use of Glyph Energy, are scattered throughout the game. Adding to that, relations with the inhabitants of Meridian are necessary to complete with success the mission. Crystal Dynamics assured that the final game will be populated by 50 different typologies of non playable characters like Knights, peasants, merchants, thieves and so on. An indicator on the left side of the screen, where all the information on your character are displayed, will show you if the characters you are approaching are friends or enemies.

The graphics and the world of Blood Omen 2
Crystal Dynamics has created a graphic engine that seems to share its basics with Soul Reaver 2’s powerful in-game engine. Meridian is a dark, gothic city that looks like a town of the XV century. Anyhow, in certain zones of the game, where the Glyph energy is used in abundance, the city looks like an industrial town in the XIX century. The developers created an extraordinary mixture of modern and ancient elements and the result is a world able to fascinate the player.

The environments seem to be completely free of any aliasing issue and the textures used are extremely varied and detailed. Light effects are massively used to give the game its unique dark, gloomy look.

The characters are all built with a high number of polygons. Sarafan Knights, thieves, wardens, and peasants – all look unique and richly detailed. Kain is a two meters tall vampire with white skin and fierce eyes, definitely one of the most evil figures to grace a videogame console.

Legacy Of Kain: Blood Omen 2 will be released this March in U.S. and could easily become one of the best adventure games of the year.

- Harry (January 11th, 2002)