Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain
from Activision
In a world turned upside down the only hope for salvation is through a malevolent vampire.

Rating: graphics 96, sound 94, interface 91, fun factor 99, overall 95

Legacy of Kain It was late that night. It seems so long ago. The wind was picking up and menacing clouds were brewing over the horizon; it would rain soon. Through a stroke of questionable luck I discovered a small village nestled in the middle of the valley. Entering the local Inn I felt the first of many raindrops on the back of my neck and could hear the thunder in the distance. Pleading for a place to sleep I was quickly turned away from the lodge. The innkeeper claimed that he had no rooms for the night. Having little choice I stepped out into the torrent of rain that was now pouring down. Wandering to the nearest building I was set upon by several bandits who were more interested in my life than my money. I fought valiantly, but in the end there were too many of them and I was killed in cold blood. The next thing I know, I'm chained at the gates of Hell with fire and brimstone all around. The physical pain I endured was but an annoyance compared to the rage and lust for revenge. I would have my revenge it but often has its own price and I was foolish for jumping at the chance to walk once again among the living. Now I go seeking my murderers. Hoping they'll know the fear I went through and knowing that they'll pay for their crimes in blood. The same life blood that sustains vampires like me.

Thus begins one of the best RPG/Action style games to come out for the Playstation. Playing the role of the malicious Kain, you'll first seek out those who killed you then to those who hired the assassins. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (LoK) will pull you in and won't let go. The simple story of revenge soon unfolds into a complex story of madness and betrayal. Of course you're to be the savior, but Kain is less than enthusiastic to participate in anything; unless it will help him at the same time. This intriguing and well implemented story is presented with outstanding graphics, incredible sound and music, and enough gore to earn the Mature content label. Legacy of Kain is an excellent game with excellent gameplay and great game-mechanics.

Legacy of Kain isn't just another pretty face. The graphics in LoK are beautiful, rich and a joy to look at. Kain is played from an overhead view and at first feels too close to be playable. However you'll soon get used to the larger sprites used to define our anti-hero. Speaking of sprites, LoK uses many pre-rendered sprites of 3D models and very little 3D code if any at all. While this seems to put Kain behind many of the great 3D games coming out, the graphics are so good you really won't care that it's an overhead 2D game. Part of what makes LoK so beautiful are the lighting effects and incredible control over day and night. Torches illuminate their areas with reds, transparent ghosts emanate a blue aura, and there are many other combinations of lighting effects that are fantastic. Of course there are the obligatory full motion videos in LoK but they are, for a change, not only great looking, but help promote and advance the story in key areas.

Legacy of Kain The music and sound effects in Legacy of Kain are well implemented and sound great. There's the moody background music that adds a lot to the atmosphere to the game. However, it's the sound effects and voice acting that really help bring LoK to life. There are the standard sword-clashing sound effects and the mandatory cool sounds for magic but the voice acting is superb. Every voice of every character is performed with the greatest amount of professionalism and expertise. While Kain is fighting he'll let out an evil laugh or shout out "Fey Victus" (or something like that). However, most of Kain's comments are triggered by triangular hot spots found throughout the game. When passing people who are chained to dungeon walls (snack bars for vampires) you'll get to hear some of the poor souls cry out, "Please help me kind sir!"

Every button on the Playstation controller will be used during the course of playing Legacy of Kain. There are the directional buttons that move Kain around, a button to attack, a button to cast or use a spell, a button to change shape (Into a Bat, Wolf or Mist),and a button to feed, talk or perform an action. Then there's the buttons to view the map, to zoom out/in, to choose a spell and one to choose a magical item. The Start button will let you change your weapons and armor. The Select button will take you to the Options screen. The only problem with putting the change weapon option on the Start button is that you have to wait through a loading screen while the game loads up the graphics.

In fact that's one of the two problems with the Legacy of Kain. There are a lot of loading screens between areas that Kain will travel. Though the game loads the information much faster than most, it's still 5-10 seconds per load. It would have been nice if the loads weren't there at all or if they were shorter, but as it is the waiting is tolerable.

Legacy of Kain The only major problem with LoK is speed. The game runs fine and at full speed most of the time. When there are a lot of sprites moving around with a lot of lighting effects going on, the game slows to a crawl. This is more likely to happen when you change the view to zoom out to get a better view of your surroundings. On the bright side, if there's a lot going on and the game slows down at least you can react and move with more precision in relation to the obstacles around you. And the slowdown doesn't happen often enough to be a real concern.

As adventure games go, Legacy of Kain is top notch. The graphics are splendid and moody. The music and sound effects are also fabulous. The game play is bloody and at times furious, so if your at all squeamish about blood and gore I don't recommend LoK. If the blood and gore doesn't bother you, you'll be doing yourself a disservice not to check this game out. With an estimated 100+ hours of gameplay, LoK is sure to keep you busy.

-- Louis Stice
Players: 1Password: No
Memory Card: Yes, 1 BlockLink-Up: No
ESRB Rating: Teen 17+

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