|Already considered something of a classic on the PlayStation, Legacy
of Kain: Soul Reaver has made the jump to the Dreamcast. Since there is a relative
dearth of this type of adventure game on the Dreamcast, the timing couldn't
have been better. The fact that Eidos has significantly improved the graphics
and control of the game over its PlayStation predecessor serves to make its
appearance on the Dreamcast even more appreciated.
The plot revolves around the world
of Nosgoth, where Kain and his minions rule over the humans. Kain, who's
initial exploits were documented in the PlayStation
game, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, recruited a legion of vampires to aid him
in his quest to rule Nosgoth. They triumphed over the humans and began to shape
Nosgoth to Kain's liking. The vampires were subservient to Kain but, while
standing before Kain, Raziel grew wings. Kain took this as an insult and had
Raziel tossed into the Lake of Lost Souls. As Raziel's flesh burned away in
the lake, he heard the voice of "The Elder," who offers Raziel a
chance at revenge against Kain. By slaughtering the remaining members of the
vampire legion and Kain himself, Raziel will get his revenge and "The
Elder" can reclaim the human souls trapped in the bodies of the vampires'
The game is played in a third-person perspective, ala Tomb
Raider, with the
player taking the role of Raziel. Raziel can jump, climb, glide on his broken
wings, as well as push, pull and flip objects around. Raziel also has the ability
to move between the material realm and the spectral realm. The combination
of moving objects and moving back and forth between realms is crucial to the
puzzle solving in the game.
The game begins with an introduction
to Raziel's basic moves. The tutorial is an excellent way to set the mood
of the game, as well as teaching the player
how to move about in Nosgoth. When the player saves a game -- which can be
done anywhere -- he will restart in the lair of "The Elder." From
there, Raziel must use a warp gate to return to the area where the game was
Because Raziel is a vampire, he
cannot die. To replenish his energy in the material realm, Raziel needs to
suck the souls from his victims. If Raziel's
energy is depleted in the material realm, he will simply transport into the
spectral realm. If he loses all of his energy while in the spectral realm,
he returns to the lair of "The Elder" and must restart his journey.
By using the warp gates, it's relatively easy to get back to the area where
you lost your energy.
The game has no load time per se because the levels are loaded on the fly
while you move from one to another. You'll hear the CD being accessed as you
move about, but there is no waiting involved.
The graphics in Legacy
of Kain are superb. The action is rendered at 60 frames-per-second
and stutters only slightly as new environments are loaded. Raziel's movements
are fluid and lifelike. It's cool to watch him pull a giant block or push against
an immovable object and see how his body reacts. The enemies also move with
grace and speed.
Although the game controls rather well with the analog stick, the camera angles
sometimes get intrusive. The player will sometimes find the camera swinging
around to face Raziel when it should be facing in the opposite direction. Most
of the time though, the camera is doing what it should be. When it's not, you
can manually move it to a view that's more to your liking. However, doing so
does break up the flow of the action, which blows the atmosphere the game seems
to be working so hard at creating.
The mood of the game, which is dark and brooding, is adequately reflected
in the sound and music during the game. The clicking of the Zephonim Vampires,
for example, is enough to send dread into your heart as you race around trying
to solve a puzzle.
If I can find any fault with the game, it's that some of the puzzles are a
little on the vague side. Without the aid of a strategy guide, I might still
be stuck fighting the first boss. However, as you get deeper into the game,
you become accustomed to the designers' knack for putting things together and
the game becomes slightly more logical. Still, it wouldn't have hurt the game
to make the puzzles a little less cryptic.
If you've got a Dreamcast and are starving for an involving, action-packed
adventure game that's guaranteed to keep you glued the screen for hours, Legacy
of Kain: Soul Reaver is your game. Even if you've played the Tomb
and found them less-than-appealing, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is for you.