Because school has finished now for the holidays, I have an abundance of free time to devote to my hobbies. As a result, I've been replaying Soul Reaver 2.
Soul Reaver 2 was released in 2001, and was the sequel to the smash 1999 Playstation hit Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. For those of us who had played the original Soul Reaver, we were all awaiting the continuation of the series where Kain and Raziel would confront their true destinies and uncover more about Nosgoth's past. I think it's safe to say we weren't disappointed. The game was blessed with a brilliant storyline that surpassed almost anything we'd seen, and the world of Nosgoth was realized beautifully in a powerful graphics engine. Raziel may have been limited in combat, but there was a sense of exploration here that caught your attention strongly and rarely let you go until the end of the game. I've recommended the game and the series to a user on my Flist before, and I still stand by that recommendation. The game was more linear than its predecessor, but the storytelling more than made up for that, on the first playthrough. Look at the Dark Forge, the Air Forge, and the Mountain Aerie for some of the most magnificent locations in gaming. I wish we'd see locations like this
in gaming today. O_O Unfortunately, Crystal Dynamics not completing the games and Eidos not promoting them heavily led to Eidos canceling the series. Crystal Dynamics never completed its games, and there was always a mountain of cut material left on the cutting room floor. It's ironic in that Crystal Dynamics not completing the first game gave us the Legacy of Kain franchise. Had Crystal Dynamics completed the first game, we would have gotten a game with a very different ending, and CD would have had to go back and alter the storyline in order to continue the series (see explanation later on, in terms of spoilers for Kain and what would have occurred in the first game; I'll provide a link.). But by not completing the second and fourth games, CD hampered the success of the series.
Also, everyone was at the top of their game here. Both the actors and their characters were in perfect form here, with the dialogue being unmatched in its dramatic presentation and the characters' voices being absolutely perfect here, with the actors being heavily interested in their characters. Just look at Raziel's observations on his former brothers-in-arms of the Sarafan Order when he encounters them for the first time 500 years in Nosgoth's past:
"And while I confess, I felt a twinge of longing, a pang of grief, for what I had believed was my lost virtue, I regarded them now with none of the reverence I had so recently felt. For I had seen the human face of the vampire...and now, I beheld the monstrousness of these men."
Good stuff, there. ;) Playing Legacy of Kain is like sipping from a glass of 200 year old wine, if you're into that sort of thing. >_> This was one of the most quotable games ever released up until that time, and I think you can see why. I think they made a mistake when they toned it down for Defiance. Just because some reviewers complained about it, that doesn't mean you have to change things up. These games aren't made for them. These games are made for the fans. If the fans decide they like the dialogue the way it is, then it's alright. :) There are also some poignant moments to it, shown in the scene where Janos is dying and Raziel's "While I have taken yours" response, after Janos says that perhaps his purpose was to save Raziel's life this once. It's a nice warm moment in what is usually a very dark story, showing that at least one person here has a heart. Blood Omen is a ruthless game on that front, with the tone being very cynical and unemotional, but if you only have darkness all the time, it gets boring after a while. By having Raziel show some actual grief, Crystal Dynamics establishes Raziel as a much more human character that we can relate to. This game and the subsequent sequel also do the same with Kain, albeit in a more subtle way. Kain wasn't a very emotional protagonist in Blood Omen, as fans of the series know, and that does keep you at a certain level of detachment from him. Kain even jokes about it in Defiance, saying "I always was considered heartless." In this way, I think Crystal Dynamics definitely improved on their predecessors from Silicon Knights. There was also a slight bit of humor to it - not much, but there was some. Just look at Raziel's annoyance when Moebius appears posing as a ghost in the future, trying to entice Raziel over to his side again. 'My god, will this bastard never go away?' You can tell what Raziel is thinking. ;D
This wasn't always one of my favorites. When Blood Omen 2 came out, I was immediately convinced that the Blood Omen team had put out a better game than Soul Reaver 2. Thankfully I re-evaluated the game later on and realized how inferior Blood Omen 2 was. Blood Omen 2's team screwed up in so many ways it's not even funny. This is the definite sequel to the Soul Reaver storyline, which is derived greatly from the events portrayed in the original Blood Omen. It is also one of the best games produced in the generation of Playstation 2 games in terms of pure storytelling.
I also can't say I'm sad the project got taken away from the original team. Some people say they await the true
sequel to Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain - Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain 2, but if it had been up to Silicon Knights, we wouldn't have had any
sequels. Silicon Knights has made what - 2 games in the past 10 years? The developers at Silicon Knights take an extraordinarily long amount of time to develop games. That doesn't bode well for us gamers. They weren't interested in continuing the story, and made it clear they wanted to focus solely on Too Human. Ironically enough, Too Human ended up being a critical and commercial flop. Not bad, but not the masterpiece it was supposed to be. For those not in the known, here is a little background on the series.
Blood Omen was the first game in the Legacy of Kain series, and the one that started the Legacy of Kain franchise. It was developed by Silicon Knights and Crystal Dynamics, and then the series was taken from the hands of Silicon Knights and given to Crystal Dynamics. Crystal Dynamics then took a very different direction with the story, in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. That is the 'first' game I referred to in the above paragraphs, where I mentioned that things would have been very different had Crystal Dynamics proceeded with their original plans.
Here is a link that shows you what would have happened had Soul Reaver 1 proceeded on its original path. http://www.thelostworlds.net/
. Take a look at it. It's very interesting, and I suggest you check it out. There are a lot of very other interesting things on there, so it makes for a good read. Here is a link to a site containing all of the information on the Legacy of Kain story: http://www.dark-chronicle.co.uk/
, if you have some unanswered questions about the series. Be forewarned: there are massive SPOILERS on that site, so don't check it out unless you've beaten all the games, or wish to check out the story regardless of that.
As Kain would say, Vae Victus. >_>