Legacy Of Kain: Defiance
A Shakespearean drama with vampires at its best. But how does it play?
After seven years and five games, the "Legacy of Kain" series has come to an end, with "Defiance" marking as the final installment. This game is suppose to clear up the many questions that came from the previous three games and reveal the destiny of both main characters, Raziel and Kain.
The "LoK" series started way back on the PsOne, telling the story of Kain and how he became a vampire. Some years later, "Soul Reaver" was released introducing the character Raziel, one of Kain's lieutenants, and how he sought revenge after Kain sentenced him to death. From this spawned a sequel, a side story and the final game.
The game starts off with Kain and you switch off to Raziel after you complete Kain s part of the story. Both characters have their own agendas to fulfill, but they have a common goal and enemy, unknown to them in the beginning. They both will progress to find out their fates and try to either avert it or confront it.
"Defiance" tells the story of Raziel and Kain's intertwined destiny, so this game allows you to play as both characters. Basic controls for both are the same: X to jump/glide, square to interact/pick up objects, circle for telekinesis (TK), and R2 to aim/release TK. Both characters have their own unique abilities and weaknesses.
Since he cannot fly, Kain has the ability to leap great lengths wherever it allows him to. He
also can mist through gates with ease. At the start, his TK is quite powerful and he is able to lift objects and humans and hurl them onto walls or off cliffs. As the game progresses, you will be able to collect TK Runes, which will increase the number of times TK can be used. Kain's only weaknesses are survival and water. Since he is a vampire, he will have to constantly drain his
enemies/prisoners to continue on. He cannot touch water or he will disperse into bats and return to the last checkpoint.
Raziel has the power to shift between the Spectral and Material realms. The Spectral realm can be considered as the "Underworld" where lost souls roam around. Here, Raziel cannot interact with objects, but it allows him to reach different areas that he might not be able to in the physical
world. It is also where he will go when he loses health or energy. And unlike Kain, he must be in this realm to pass through gates. The Material realm is the "Physical" world, where he can interact with objects and speak to people. He will be constantly shifting between realms to solve puzzles or reach new areas. As for abilities, he cannot fly anymore, but he is able to glide from area to area. He can touch water since he is no longer a vampire, so this gives him an advantage. For him to survive,
he has to devour the souls of his enemies or the wandering souls in the Spectral realm. His TK isn't as powerful as Kain's and he can only shoot out small bursts or break small objects in the beginning. His TK will increase as you collect more runes.
A major issue that has been brought up from the previous games is the combat system. Many fans felt the system was too basic and limited and wanted variation. "Defiance" improves this problem by adding more moves and making control more solid. Players can now enjoy juggling their enemies in the air "Devil May Cry"-style or use a combination of hack n' slash and TK to hurl their opponents onto the hazardous environments. Also new is the ability to learn moves. Both Raziel and Kain have five moves to learn and you will gain these as your combat skill increases the more you fight. Whatever method you choose, you're sure to get the job done. Controls for the
battles are simple and easy to get into. The square button provides a weak slash, tapping the triangle once lifts the enemy, tapping it twice lifts and slams them. The circle button is the TK, which is incredibly useful during battles. While using Kain, you can lift and throw the enemy by holding down the circle and move the left analog stick in the direction you want to throw before releasing the button. Experimentation is highly recommended, since this can help you decide which method you're most comfortable with. Also, take into consideration character usage. Playing as Kain will mean having more strength, while Raziel is all about agility. To finish the enemy off, you can either
drink blood (Kain) or devour the soul (Raziel). Or you can feed the Reaver blade, by pressing the triangle button near the enemy. This allows the blade to absorb the soul and charge up the Reaver for a powerful spell attack. After feeding the blade enough souls, the gauge will glow and you can hold down the square to release the spell. This is helpful when surrounded in large groups or
if you don't feel like dealing with the enemies individually. The problem I found with feeding the reaver, is that the strong attack (lift and slam) uses the same button to feed the Reaver. Many times, when I felt like lifting the enemy, I end up feeding the Reaver instead. This can be somewhat frustrating because prevents my character from gaining any health.
Regarding battles, there is one thing that is pretty annoying. The lack of enemy/boss variety and A.I. In the first Soul Reaver, the enemies were graphically different in each new area and they werenít such a pain to battle with. And there were actually boss battles that were intriguing
and challenging. In this game almost none of that exists. You basically encounter the same enemies over and over again and their A.I. and limited moves made the battles more bothersome than challenging. I ended up just running past them, but itís not always successful since the enemies come charging at you and you end up losing some life, which you need to replenish in order to survive. So, in a way, you end up battling with all of the enemies. This is a waste of time and effort, and I didnít enjoy it. Boss battles are no exception. There are some mini-boss guardian battles in which you basically fight the same guardians over and over again. This doesnít require much effort since you can basically finish them using always the same tactics Ė needless to say, this gets quite
boring. The only real battle I enjoyed was the final one, but I donít want to spoil anything, so Iíll just say that the final battle is not challenging, but it was one of the better fights.
The levels are pretty large. Anyone who has played the previous games, would know that Crystal Dynamics takes the time to create beautiful, enormous levels which allows for a great deal of exploration. And the best part: no load times. Players don't have to deal with the hassle of waiting to get to the next area. What I found pretty disappointing is that levels aren't as large as I hoped they'd be. Most of them are just repeated areas with just a few changes to them depending on which character you play. I highly enjoyed the massive levels found in the past games that gave a sense of a real depth and made you want to explore them. But maybe I'm just being picky...the level size in this game is just fine for your average action/adventure, but I just preferred more.
Besides action, the LoK series has elements of puzzle solving that have always been enjoyable and pretty challenging. I'm disappointed to say the puzzles in this game are lacking and repetitive. The only puzzle solving involves reviving the Reaver forges. The forges allow the Reaver to be imbued with different elements: Raziel has the regular, dark, light, fire, air, water, earth, and spirit. Kain gets lightning, fire, and time. You can use the different elements to serve various purposes. You can use the Earth Reaver to become heavier in the water or use the Dark to become invisible. While this sounds quite interesting, the downside is that many of these elements are pointless because they arenít incorporated into the game as deeply as you would expect. The main elements you use are Dark and Air; Earth and Water near the end of the game. The Spirit Reaver is the most powerful, but you barely get to use it since you receive it at the very end of the game. And certain enemies have no elemental weaknesses, so you can't use any elements to kill them quicker because they arenít affected by it. You will feel somewhat cheated, because you're basically spending most of your time reviving the forges and gaining elements only to have them not used.