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.
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.
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.
The voice acting is very well done, and
the musical score and effects audio are also very good.
The combat is straightforward and the
puzzles are not that involved.
The control elements have been kept simple,
and the idea of playing a remorseless anti-hero is a nice twist.
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.