Legacy Of Kain-Defiance
Vampires, eh? So last season. Time was you couldn't move for Nosferatu and his gang, sucking blood out of all and sundry, looking all dark, moody and stylish and giving hope to goths everywhere. Then the Buffy TV series finished and now it's all zombie, zombie, zombie. Rotting flesh is the new black.
With that in mind, Legacy Of Kain is perhaps the last of the great vampire gaming series -and sadly, Defiance shows every indication of having had a stake driven through its heart. Although it's undeniably prettylooking for the time (and still not bad). Defiance suffers from extreme repetitiveness in its level design. After all, one sodding temple after another is enough to drive even the most fanatical religious zealot towards a path of atheism...
The combat is satisfyingly gory and over the top, and the dual protagonist storyline would have been great had both threads not simply been retreads of each other. Puzzles are nowhere near as clever and creative as the game's forbear (Soul Reaver 2), and despite the special moves, nothing really jumps out and bites you by the throat.
Developer Crystal Dynamics has now got its hands on Lara Croft's assets and hopefully will learn from the mistakes made here to provide a boost of adrenalin to the flagging Tomb Raider franchise. As far as vampires go, this one has had the life sucked out of it.
Download Legacy Of Kain-Defiance
Fig rolls. They're just not the same as they used to be. I don't know if you've tried one lately, but I swear they used to be a lot figgier. Wagon Wheels too - I mean what the hell is up with the jam-to-biscuit ratio in the contemporary Wagon Wheel? Don't get me wrong, I still love the concept, but it's been watered down and made rubbish by mean-spirited, penny-pinching, bureaucratic minions of Satan.
It's a similar story with Legacy Of Kain: Defiance. Big fan of the concept. Loved Soul Reaver 2. Not that fussed with Blood Omen, but I loved Soul Reaver 2. And upon unwrapping Legacy Of Kain: Defiance and taking the first nibble, I was delighted at what I found. What a gorgeous, brilliantly conceived addition to the series. Not only has the combat system been seriously beefed up and supplemented by cool telekinetic powers, but you get to play as both Raziel and Kain, the star-crossed protagonists of the two-pronged series. Somehow though, the further I chewed into the game the more I saw the terrible truth. They've skimped on the figs.
Before we get too carried away with the snack metaphors however, we should do the polite thing and make some introductions. The Legacy Of Kain series, started way back in 1996 with the original Blood Omen, is a double-stranded action-adventure epic that's unfurled gradually to reveal a dense and remarkably confusing vampiric storyline. The two stars of the series are Kain, bloodsucking demi-god and possible saviour of Nosgoth: and Raziel. a fallen vampire reduced to sucking souls and living with one foot in the Spectral realm. He might also be the saviour of Nosgoth and/or the vampire race, though he may also have been sent to destroy it, and the two of them may or may not be out to kill each other. Like I say. it's all a bit complicated. For the sake of brevity, let's just say it's Zelda for goths. Instead of magical suits you've got magical swords, instead of heart containers you've got ancient rune-stones and insteac of ocarinas you've got, I don't know, Fields Of The Nephilim.
And this is where we start to run out of figs. Not only is the gameplay between Kain and Raziel remarkably similar, they even go to the same locations, the excuse being that they're separated by 500 years and the textures have changed a bit. Worse still (by about a million times), is the fact that you have to visit the exact same bloody temple at least ten times during the course of the game, solving its baffling 'mysteries' every time. Of course, it's not the same temple - one is the 'Fire' temple, one the 'Light' temple and so forth - but they're almost completely indistinguishable, the developers having simply moved rocks and changed the patterns on the walls to try and fool us.
The puzzle-solving in the game is likewise disappointing. Apart from the fact that you have to solve ten near-identical temple sections, the whole puzzle system feels dumbed down compared to Soul Reaver 2. Raziel's spectral shift ability isn't used half as well as it once was, and becomes little more than a tiresome curse as you trek around looking for a place to shift back to material form. And since there's no map or compass in the game, you're also going to get lost a lot - especially if you leave the game and come back after a few forgetful days.
Lok:D After Dark
Clearly, there's a whiff of something sinister here. Despite its level of polish, LOK: Defiance seems to have been rushed to market, with a massive cut-and-paste job done to hide a lack of content. The game would have benefited from being either five hours shorter or five environments richer - in the latter case, it would have easily scored in the mid-80s. There's nothing wrong with the game mechanics either, apart from a troublesome 'cinematic' camera perhaps, and it's a real shame to see such a fun game reduced to tedium through sheer repetition.
The worst thing is, the problems faced by Legacy Of Kain: Defiance are in some ways the problems of the whole games industry. (Hell, the whole of society if you want to get down to it.) There's too much pressure to deliver a finished game regardless of content and quality, and it leads to cutting corners and mediocre products. It doesn't make us happy in the slightest, but, hey, we still eat Fig Rolls, so who's the sucker?
Dueling vampiric antiheroes Kain and Raziel return for one last chance to wrap up the ponderous dangling plotlines of this action-adventure series. Expect nifty 3D puzzles, improved combat and visuals, and top-notch voice acting.
HOW WAS IT?
Oh. My. Goth. The duo's new telekinetic powers made it easy to spend half an hour experimenting with different combinations for beating the hell out of enemies before devouring their blood or souls. And that's exactly what the series needed. If the puzzles (not seen) meet or exceed ones past, this should be the best Kain yet.
This vampire series has never really been out to scare the player; the protagonists, the pointy-toothed megalomaniac Kain, and antiheroic wraith Raziel are the real monsters here. In their worlds, you experience unlife on the other side, partaking in the dark pleasures of sucking blood and reaving souls within a deliciously macabre narrative. In Defiance, the pulse has quickened and ruthless action reigns. Along with performing aerial swordplay (as defined by Capcom's Devil May Cry), both Kain and Raziel can use telekinetic power to yank enemies off ramparts, splatter them against walls, toss them into roaring flames, or impale them on the splendidly sharp (and sharplooking) gothic architecture. For the mischievous little Vlad in all of us.
Check and mate. Legacy of Kain: Defiance successfully blends the disparate Soul Reaver and Blood Omen franchises into one grisly, beautiful package. The game's environments are full of jaw-dropping, ornately detailed gothic cathedrals, craggy, cavernous catacombs, and spooky nether-worlds. Plus, its music, sound effects, and voice work are equally top-notch--creating an experience that's half horror movie and half overwrought, goth-tacular play. Likewise, the series' much improved combat system is a true black-hearted pleasure, allowing you to juggle opponents in the air and then use telekinesis to toss them into hazards such as fireplaces and spikes. Ouch. But Defiance has a dark side...an unintentional one. The series' near-perfect follow-camera has been sacrificed in order to give you a better view of the fights, and it's tougher to perform platform jumps now because of that. Also, the previous games' once-brainy puzzles have become so much easier that they're usually only really challenging when they require you to traverse the game's numerous, samey environments without the aid of a map function. And the combat, while vastly better than in previous Cams, lacks variety because there aren't enough different kinds of foes. That all said, Defiance still has a compelling enough story--and strong enough gameplay--to make you see it through to the bloody end.
Whether you favor the taste of blood or souls, Defiance successfully quenches your undying thirst for either. And thanks to a completely overhauled combat system, you'll feel like a badass while fulfilling these dark desires. But besides the heavily upgraded hack-n-slash action, what really sells me on this dual-vampire venture is the narrative. The story's captivating twists and turns kept me awake well into the wee hours of the night, anxiously ascertaining the fates of both Kain and Raziel. Oh yeah, it also doesn't hurt that the game looks stunningly gorgeous, and unlike Joe, I find the puzzles perfectly challenging. Sure, Defiance has its share of flaws (finicky camera, not enough different types of enemies), but all are quite minor. Stop resisting, and let the sucking and reaving commence.
The Kain games exist, first and foremost, to tell a story. And like its predecessors, Defiance flows plot points together with considerable grace. But for the first time, I'm actually excited about the combat between the cinemas: Kain possesses useful telekinetic powers right off the bat, and both heroes use combo-promoting enemy juggling to gleefully bleed bad guys. Still, despite these fixes to the series' traditionally bland gameplay, Defiance feels rushed. All too often, glitchy A.I. issues and an inexcusably bad camera show that a little more polish was needed. These loose screws don't break down the game's otherwise tight structure, though, and Kain fans will certainly embrace Defiance.
WHAT IS IT?
Defiance continues the tale of two vampires, Raziel and Kain. These sanguinary heroes have quite a twisty history, spanning Raziel’s two Soul Reaver games, Kain's two Blood Omen titles, and five systems (PS1, DC. PS2, Xbox, and GC). Together, their tales weave a dense fabric with more than a few loose ends-understandably daunting to the uninitiated (or easily confused).
But fear not. Eager for new bjood, the developers are keen to make Defiance accessible to neophytes. In fact, now is a good time to get acquainted with the series. Rather than rehashing four games’ worth of zigs and zags, Defiance briefly illustrates the lay of the labyrinth, then begins a new chapter of the story. This episode delves into the underlying mythology of Nosgoth, the dark and velvety (and, yes, gothic) world where the action takes place.
WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
We should say, Nosgoth is the world where a lot more action takes place. Combat is the linchpin of Defiance. Both Raziel and Kain have a variety of melee moves, including opponent-lifting uppercuts and aerial attacks reminiscent of Devil May Cry. In the early version we saw, eight human soldiers surrounded Kain. He began by dispatching three at once with his sword; then he raised another with an underhand stroke before jumping up to the hapless human and kicking him off a cliff. He was already dicing two more soldiers as the falling fellow’s scream reached their ears. And of course, Kain drank blood from the last warrior’s neck and walked away from the tussle with full health.
In Defiance, players control Raziel and Kain in alternating chapters of the story. As the tale progresses, both characters will gain new abilities-some shared and some unique to each. For example, we saw Kain float gently down a 200-foot drop, while Raziel quickly scaled a sheer wall with his claws. Both characters have telekinesis, which they can use hurl enemies onto spikes or smash them into each other-or to break the humans’ furniture out of spite.
Our early look at the game showed few puzzles, no boss fights, and zero story details, but what we did see was intriguing.
Snapshots and Media
Playstation 2 Screenshots
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