Game Review - by StormDaemon
A man pouring about a gallon of lighter fluid into a grill and lighting it. Another man with a rocket strapped to the top of his car trying to set a speed record. Both morons, but morons who at least got to keep their souls. Raziel's enemies, however, are not so lucky. As a vampire returning from death, Raziel stalks his enemies to gain revenge upon his creator Kain for his execution. Since he is beyond undeath, no more must Raziel drink blood to survive, this time around he must drink the souls of those that are unlucky enough to cross his path.
You are Raziel, first son of Kain, the first vampire. For thousands of years, you and your vampire brethren have ruled over Nosgoth with Kain as the supreme ruler. As time went on, Kain gained special powers and abilities, and soon after he gained them, you and your brothers would too. That continued on for decades until you were blessed with the gift of wings before Kain. Unfortunately, Kain, who thought of himself as a god, did not like this so he decided to execute you by throwing you into a pit of death. After a few thousand years, you were brought back to a state between undeath and death by a powerful being known as The Elder. This being has brought you back to gain back the souls stolen by Kain and his vampires and also to gain revenge for what Kain did to you.
The most prominent feature of Soul Reaver is the huge, lush, and gorgeous 3D world that you travel. Everything is connected to everything else, and the game is made in such a way that you'll end up visiting each place a few times. Every place that you travel to is detailed and built in an extremely beautiful manner, making exploring around one of the best parts of the game. The graphics are up to par with all the best 3D games out on the et and they have tons of extra special effects to boot.
The control and combat of the game is simple and effective. Fans of 3rd person view games such as Tombraider will be right at home with this one. Even for those who don't necessarily like 3rd person view, such as myself, will actually get used to it and eventually come to enjoy the full view of Raziel whupping up on his enemies. One awesome feature that has to be mentioned is the auto face button. When you are in combat, all you have to do is hold down this button and it will automatically face you toward the current enemy you are fighting, which is absolutely invaluable during hand-to-hand combat fighting. The game combat is so much fun that you'll want to do that more than just about anything else. You always can do normal claw attacks, but along your travels you'll run into lots of different types of weapons such as spears and torches, which can be used to finish off the vampires. The best weapon of all, which you get after a spat with Kain, is the Soul Reaver. You have it all the time on the spectral plane and on the material plane you'll need to be at full health, which can get a bit annoying, but does add to the overall challenge. When you do have a chance to rip up enemies with it, they'll go down real quick, and the finishing move that it can perform is awesome. You'll see it charge up with electrical energy, then as you ram it through your enemy; they'll blow up into lots of chunks. That, of course, is the beginning to the huge amount of things that you can get and do. In order to find the rest, you'll have to experience this seriously fun game.
Dynamic and simple would be the best words to describe the gameplay of Soul Reaver. Dynamic in the sense that there are so many things to do, whether it's picking up one of the many different items to combat enemies with, or using one of the many glyphs that you gain throughout the game. Simple in the sense that there are a handful of controls and that's about it. You have your basic directional controls, your attack, auto face, soul devour, crouch, jump, and finish/throw. The most useful control, other than attack, is auto face, which turns Raziel toward the nearest enemy so you can attack a lot easier than having to manually face the enemy. Without auto face, it is almost impossible to beat an enemy other than the most weak and simple one; they simply move out of the way too quickly. Combat is especially fun when combined with all of the different types of weapons described in the above features section. Not only does Raziel attack in several different manners, but also as he gets more powerful, he'll automatically do a slight dodge of an attack. Most of the dodging has to be done by the player by using the jump and directional keys in combination, which lets you attack quickly.
Another great part of the gameplay is that it is not simply hack and slash at anything that moves. A lot of thought is required for just about every part of the game. Just as an example, finding each new part of the world to go to next is usually given in a riddle and involves a good amount of searching in places you'd never think of off the top of your head. Once you find the new places, they usually have several puzzles or things that require a good amount of thought to get past. To aid you, the game usually gives you some kind of cutscene looking at where you need to go or what you need to do, if the puzzle is an important part of the level. Another devious part of the game is that one thing in one area can affect another area a great deal, and it's not always obvious what you need to do. A huge amount of creative thought was put into the levels, and props definitely have to go to the designers.
Saying that the graphics look spectacular is a serious understatement. Very few games can compare to how good everything looks even though it may not be cutting edge graphical technology. Still, though, the atmosphere, the special effects, and the textures all combine to make the levels look sweet. The 3D aspect is just as good, with great modeling, great level design, and great animations. Raziel doesn't have a large number of polygons, but he does look very vampiric. If I met him in a dark alley, I'd certainly run. As for the enemies, they're scary and creatively made. All of the different clans of vampires look completely different, and there are usually different kinds of vampires within that clan. Diversity is not a problem anywhere, especially in the levels. All of them are linked in such a manner that you'd never know that it wasn't one huge world. You can travel from one end to the other without have to wait for loading times, which is so refreshing to see in a game and helps to keep the atmosphere constant. Waiting for a level to load really takes away from a game, and in Soul Reaver, the designers really knew how to keep everything together.
Awesome voice acting, cool special effects, and extremely effective background music all set the tone and pace of Soul Reaver. The voices during the cut scenes are so good and so compelling that you'll want to listen to it all over again; no cheesy acting here, the voice-overs were done quite well. Out of all of the special effects sounds, which ranged from vampires growling to the Soul Reaver shattering their bodies, the coolest had to be Raziel's footsteps for no real reason other than that they sounded just right and very cool. The music was also done well and supported the mood of the game with its changes from its slow, moody melody to its hard-hitting, striking tones that flavor the game. All in all, the sound effects are sure the please anyone.
Complexity, beauty, simplicity, sweetness, and artistic are all words that can be used to describe Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. Few games have such an atmosphere that completely wraps you up in a game and does not let go. The beauty of the graphics alone are stunning enough, but when you combine it with gameplay that offers great combat and levels that require a good amount of thought to get through, you get a sweet game. Anyone who even plays a few minutes of this game will be drawn in and end up playing for hours on end because of how much fun this game is. Overall, this is a game for everyone because of its diversity and incredible fun factor.