reviews\ Jan 6, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Blood Omen 2 - GC - Review

He has slumbered for 200 years, and yet the curse was not the sleep but the awakening.

Once Kain’s vampire army fought for control of Nosgoth. To his way of thinking, the natural order was vampires first, the weak human race last. Humans were good for feeding the hunger of his race, little else. Enter the Sarafan, a fanatical religious order dedicated to eradicating the vampires. They met in battle. The Sarafan had a new leader, a powerful warrior who not only defeated Kain, and caused the long sleep, but also destroyed most of his followers.

Blood Omen 2, a GameCube release from Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Interactive, is the story of Kain’s return from sleep and his bloodthirsty need for vengeance. The game is a role-playing adventure that begins in Meridian.

Fans of the Eidos vampire series may remember Kain as the power-mad ruler of the Soul Reaver series.  This tale takes place 400 years before that series, and provides more of a glimpse into the world and personality of this unlikely anti-hero.

While the Sarafan had organized and fought the vampires under the pretext of helping the people, there was a more insidious plan underlying it all. The Sarafan have taken over control of the land and, as Umah (a vampire with the resistance known as the Cabal) tells him, they do not treat the people well. Kain is recruited by the Cabal to do what they cannot ­ overthrow the Sarafan lord. The only problem is that his initial defeat has severely weakened him. There are vampires who once served him and now stand with the Sarafan lord (their choice was simple, work for him or die). They have been imbued with the powers of the dark arts and would see him dead. Alas for them, should they fall in battle, Kain gains new powers and each will give him the ability to confront and defeat the boss at game’s end.

One of the more telling aspects, and perhaps the core theme underlining the game comes early in the scripted material, which is akin to a controller training mode and a precursor to the actual game. Umah is attempting to teach Kain how to take the blood from the victim she has secured for such a purpose. She explains that the ‘victim’ is a thug that preys upon others, and not quite a helpless victim.

Kain merely intones "spare me the moral anecdote and direct me to the throat!"

The control elements have been finely adapted to the GameCube controllers, and the interface is simple enough to keep players moving forward from the game’s onset.

The game’s sound is excellent overall, with well-done vocal characterizations. Some of the fighting sounds are typical of the genre, though if Kain grabs someone by the throat, and prepares to throw them, there is the satisfying crunch of bone breaking.

Visually the game offers some excellent elements as well as some extremely graphic segments that will not appeal to the faint of spirit.  When Kain feeds, there is a fountain of blood emanating from the torso of the victim.

Blood Omen 2 continues the story of Kain, and presents an interesting character. Some of the game’s puzzles, however, are too simplistic and will fail to adequately challenge game players. The game has been ported to various platforms with mixed results. Yes, it works on the GameCube, and fits the platform’s abilities well. It does look good and play well, but players looking for more challenge will only find this a pleasant, albeit mild, diversion.

This game is rated Mature for blood and gore, and violence.


Gameplay: 7.5
This game seems to have overcome some of the problems that the PC version had, and while the program has a host of save points along the way, and the map board is huge, the flow is interrupted with a bevy of cutscenes.

Graphics: 7.5
The game has a very nice gothic look, and the animation is well done especially the combat elements. Some of the environmental elements are not as richly detailed as they could be ­ such as water effects ­ while other elements are well done.

Sound: 8.2
The voice acting is very well done, and the musical score and effects audio are also very good.

Difficulty: Easy
The combat is straightforward and the puzzles are not that involved.

Concept: 8
The control elements have been kept simple, and the idea of playing a remorseless anti-hero is a nice twist.

Overall: 7.6
The game is a touch too simplistic, but does have solid characters, and very good sound. The game concept is well done and the overall remorselessness of Kain is a welcomed relief from the conflicted characters. The game may be a little too intense for younger players for the fact that Kain craves bloods and cares little for the source could be overwhelming. This game has a great ‘hero,’ but the gameplay fails to challenge him. Yes, it is interesting to play a character that kills indiscriminately, but the game is little more than a level-by-level killing spree that lacks penetrating, thoughtful challenge.


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