reviews\ May 5, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Blood Omen 2 - PS2 - Review

In 1998, PlayStation owners proclaimed Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver the best adventure game of the year.  Its unique blend of action, puzzles and platforming created an innovative experience that no other PSone game could offer.  Shortly after Soul Reaver's release, Crystal Dynamics announced that they would release not one, but two sequels -- Soul Reaver 2 and Blood Omen 2.  Soul Reaver was a spin-off of the first Blood Omen game, and Blood Omen 2 is a spin-off of Soul Reaver.  The two games star different characters, feature different worlds and different special abilities.  But the play mechanics are very similar.

Like Soul Reaver 2, Blood Omen 2 is more of its own game than it is a Zelda-clone.  Not that the first was a Zelda-clone, but Link and Hyrule were the first things that came to mind when I played it.  The similarities between Blood Omen 2 and Zelda 64 end with the lock-on feature.  Almost every adventure game allows you to lock-on to your opponents.  But instead of just circling them (as in Zelda), Kain can move forward, backward, left and right.  His movement is slowed down quite a bit when targeting an opponent.  This makes you feel as if you're trapped in a box.  I'm glad that I can do more than just circle my opponent, but I still feel limited to only a handful of actions.

In Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Raziel had to devour souls to survive.  In Blood Omen 2, Kain must kill and suck the blood of every human in sight.  Foolish humans will attempt to kill you, while the smart ones will run for their lives.  Neither human will succeed, but it's amusing to watch them try.

One of Blood Omen 2's unique combat features is the blocking system.  While not exactly innovative, the blocking system is pretty cool.  Enemies will strike you in succession, that is, they'll attempt to hit you multiple times in a row.  You must hit the block button to defend every attack, and in doing so, Kain will move his weapon up and down or left and right to block attacks from all angles.  This does not change the gameplay much, but it does add more realism.  At the very least, it's fun to watch.

Kain has an interesting way of drinking blood.  Instead of using his teeth to pierce a human's neck, he stands over the body and sucks their blood like a vacuum cleaner.  The blood literally flies out of the body and into his mouth!  It's kind of like survival/horror, only the humans are the ones trying to survive, not you. 

Moving about Blood Omen 2's world is not the most natural experience.  The controls are rather stiff and PC-like, giving you less maneuverability than desired.  Jumping is smooth when running forward, but if you try to turn as you land, Kain will stop dead in his tracks.  That's ridiculous.  Jumping/landing should be a smooth, continuous motion.  Raziel has no problem running or jumping in Soul Reaver 1 and 2.  In fact, I'd go as far as to say that he has some of the best controls in the PSone.  But Kain moves as if he's being restricted by an invisible force field. 

All in all, Blood Omen 2 is great as a rental.  Summer is just around the corner, and if you can't spend a week in a far off place in reality, you might as well go to a far off place in a virtual world.  Fans of the Kain/Raziel saga should enjoy the story.  As always, the gameplay is the most important part, and that's what drew me to Blood Omen 2 in the first place.  As it turns out, the gameplay isn't great, but it isn't bad either -- it's somewhere in between.  For every up, there's a down, and sometimes the "down" has a greater influence on the gameplay.  That's why I recommend Blood Omen 2 as a rental for every gamer who doesn't absolutely love Soul Reaver and or/ Soul Reaver 2.  For those of you who do [love SR], then Blood Omen 2 will give you exactly what you want: more of the same addictive gameplay with a few new twists.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 7
Blood Omen 2's battles aren't as action-packed as I had hoped, but they are pretty fun.  Slashing enemies has always been fun, and being able to suck their blood makes it even better.  However, it gets repetitive very fast.  For gamers who love this kind of gameplay, the annoyances will not be as noticeable.

Graphics: 5
Despite being a former Dreamcast game, Soul Reaver 2 looks better than its 100% next-gen sibling, Blood Omen 2.  Did I say 100%?  I'd better change it to 25%.  To be perfectly honest, BO2 does not look good.  None of the characters, backgrounds or special effects are appealing.  Kain's actions are fairly stiff, and the characters look extremely dated.  I won't degrade a game much for having bad graphics, so long as it plays great.  But when someone develops a next-gen game for a next-gen console, I expect the game to have next-gen graphics

Sound: 5 
Kain could use a new soundtrack to spruce up his life.  Being a vampire isn’t easy, and having to hear the same annoying song over and over again does not make life any easier.

Difficulty: Medium
Blood Omen 2 will challenge most gamers, but not to the point of frustration, making it accessible for all gamers.

Concept: 7.5 
I really like the idea of companies releasing two games based on the same series.  This has been done before, but not in the same way.  Either they're two completely different games that have no relations or they are released 12 months apart.  Blood Omen 2 is like the unofficial sequel to Soul Reaver 2, a game that was released last September!

Multiplayer: N/A


Overall: 7
Don't buy Blood Omen 2 for the graphics, the music or the story.  Buy it for the gameplay and ONLY the gameplay!  Soul Reaver-lovers will get what they paid for, and patient newcomers may find that BO2 is the game they've been dying to sink their teeth into.


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