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Legacy of Kain: Defiance Game Review

Updated on November 19, 2013

Legacy of Kain: Defiance - the fifth and the last game in the Legacy of Kain series -

Legacy of Kain: Defiance was developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Eidos for PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. It was written by Amy Hennig and Carol Wolf, produced by Rosaura Sandoval and directed by Amy Hennig. The music score was done by Kurt Harland and Mike Peaslee. As some of you may notice, most of the staff working on Defiance are the staff of Soul Reaver. Legacy of Kain: Defiance was released in November 2003 for the US market and in February 2004 for the UK. Ok, I believe that I have covered all the technical info you may need and now I will move on to speak a bit more about the game itself.

Legacy of Kain: Defiance is the final installment of the Legacy of Kain series, and it introduces us to a game where both Raziel and Kain are playable characters. Shifting back and forth between the two, through numerous cutscenes and fantastic dialogues, we unravel this saga in an epic way that does this series justice. Legacy of Kain: Defiance concludes the story of Raziel and Kain as archenemies and explains what happened to Nosgoth, and we finally get the answers we waited for so long - but they are nothing we expected!

In the following parts I will move on to talk about various aspects of Legacy of Kain: Defiance to see if this last installment did the series justice. Read on to find out why this game is worth playing regardless of certain shortcomings.


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Graphics in Legacy of Kain: Defiance

Graphics in Legacy of Kain: Defiance are impressive compared to most games that came out at that time. Although it came out only one year after the last game of this series, Blood Omen 2, the visuals are outstandingly better. One may wonder why didn't they do the same for Blood Omen 2, but hey, the games did come year after year and even Defiance has some flaws to prove it. Some fans of the Legacy of Kain series complain that the quality of graphics and gameplay suffered because of rushed production, but the resulting games still look visually superior to most of games of that current time.

Character modelling, for one, is fantastic. Both Raziel and Kain never looked as convincing as now. Their design remained the same, only reworked and improved and the expressions and movements in cutscenes look better than before in this series. The exception of this game is that it does not start with an FMV made by GlyphX like its predecessors, rather it relies on game engine cutscenes, that are nonetheless very good.

The graphics of the stages look really impressive at first, but you begin to notice certain flaws as you go deeper into the game. For instances, on a better PC, some textures do not look as good as they should and the game doesn't run as smooth as it should on weaker machines. The strong points are the designs of buildings, cathedrals, graveyards, furniture and so on, that really look appealing to the eye, and generally improve the overall impression of the graphics.

The graphics could have been a lot better but Legacy of Kain: Defiance is overall above average looking game, and you will love the detailed environments and other small touches such as discreet lighting effects, fluttering mists in the spectral realm, bleak atmosphere at some parts, and so on.


Legacy of Kain: Defiance gameplay

Gameplay in Legacy of Kain: Defiance is somewhat improved according to opinions of many. Someone who has been around and played enough games will instantly notice the similarity between combat in Defiance and in Capcom's Devil May Cry. Whether this is a good thing or not is another matter. The basic difference in gameplay between the other installment and this final part of the game is actually the speed of movement of characters. Raziel and Kain both run much much faster than they did in their own respective games, and the combat is also much more dynamic, although a bit repetitive.

What really annoys is actually the camera that just cannot keep up with the character, and this may be enough to turn people away from finishing this, all in all, really good, worthwhile game. The game uses, for the first time, a roving camera, so you cannot get the best angle sometimes when you really need it. It's easy to understand that the makers of the game wanted us to catch glimpses of the environment and so on, but one must wonder if this was truly necessary considering this was the last game of the series.

Furthermore, another disappointing aspect is the fact that regardless of having two different characters at your disposal, you only have a limited number of combat moves, that are almost identical with both of them. This takes a lot away from the game. In addition, Kain wields only the material blood-gouging version of the Soul Reaver, while Raziel has the spectral, soul-devouring version of the same sword. Meaning, you do not have weapon choices like in previous games, and thus no interesting finishing move. You do, however, have elemental power-ups for the Reavers, but these get old really fast.

The part that was well done in the game was the way both characters feed. Kain can still drink the blood of his enemies telekinetically over some distances, but this time around he can also chomp down on their necks and feed like a read bad vampire (makes you wonder why this was impossible before). Raziel, on the other hand, literally eats souls of his foes, and this was pulled of fantastically. Another cool change was the improvement of the way Raziel transports himself from the spectral into the material realm. It's best to see it by yourselves.

Legacy of Kain: Deiance, apart from having certain problems with camera angles, has a really solid gameplay that you will enjoy. The combat is fast and dynamic, you can unlock some wicked combos, and the characters are finally faster. Some of the effects in combat, in fact, are so enjoyable that you will redo them several times over just for fun.


Music and voice acting

The music in Legacy of Kain: Defiance is the good old music we had in Soul Reaver. In fact, many will notice that apart from Kain's obvious presence as a playable character, this game literally looks and sounds like a sequel of Soul Reaver. Interestingly, the soundtrack is not up to par as before, but it is nonetheless very ambiental and creepy where it needs to be. Actually, the only issue about it is that it loops just a bit too much. The combat theme starts and ends too abruptly and drones out to something too quiet in comparison. The themes really are good, but they are repetitive, looping and sometimes inappropriate.

The voice acting is better than ever. Michael Bell and Simon Templeman reprized the roles of Raziel and Kain, respectively, along with Tony Jay as Elder God, Richard Doyle as Moebius, Anna Gunn as Ariel, and many many more. The dialogues of this game are by themselves fantastic, but the voice acting made them unforgettable.

Overall, Legacy of Kain: Defiance is:

4 stars for LoK: Defiance


Legacy of Kain: Defiance is a perfect finale of the series for the fans. A gamer who plays it for the first time without knowing anything regarding the story may not enjoy it as much, simply because the story will confuse anyone who delves into it unprepared.
Graphics and gameplay-wise, the game is solid and enjoyable, and offers a lot of fun for a casual gamer. Some combos and finishing moves look good enough to keep anyone wanting to do them a few more times, just for the thrills.

The plot, however, is outstanding. Anyone who did not play the Legacy of Kain series should do so to enjoy this game fully, and in case you have played the previous parts and still hesitate with this one - don't. Despite being a bit rushed and having some flaws. Legacy of Kain: Defiance remains an enjoyable experience, and it can be highly recommended to anyone, and not just action adventure fans.

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