Legacy of Kain Series: Soul Reaver 2 Game Review
Read the review of the third game of the Legacy of Kain series - Soul Reaver 2
Soul Reaver 2 was developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Eidos, and released for PlayStation 2 and PC. It was supposed to be released for Sega Dreamcast as well, but that version was cancelled in the end, as Sega ceased console production. Legacy of Kain Series: Soul Reaver 2 was written and directed by Amy Hennig, and produced by Rosaura Sandoval. The music was composed by Kurt Harland and Jim Hedges. The dates of release for Soul Reaver 2 were 29th of October 2001 for the US market, and 16th of November 2001 for the UK.
Legacy of Kain Series: Soul Reaver 2 is the third installment of the Legacy of Kain series, and the continuation of the story of Raziel. We have met Raziel in the previous game, Soul Reaver, where we learned about his fate as Kain's vampiric lieutenant, who is, mutilated and destroyed beyond recovery, resurrected by a being called The Elder God, and pitted against Kain. In Soul Reaver 2, Raziel continues to gather new powers that will enable him to have his vengeance against Kain, but this time around he gains powers for his sword, the Soul Reaver, rather than for himself.
The story begins exactly where it left off in Soul Reaver; Raziel follows Kain through a time-travelling device and lands into Nosgoth's past where he searches for powers and for answers to numerous questions this game poses.
Without further ado, we discuss different aspects of the game, all while following Raziel in his quest for vengeance!
Photo credit: Amazon.com
The visuals and graphics in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2
Image taken from Amazon.com
The graphics are outstanding. Intro of the game is yet again an FMV produced by GlyphX (just like in Soul Reaver), that shows us exactly how great of a graphics we can expect. The character modelling is nearly flawless, their movements much more fluid and their facial expressions during both CG and in-game cut-scenes realistic and impressive. You will notice how they pulled off the expressions of Raziel - even without his jaw, you can clearly see shock, anger, amusement and so on just from his eyes.
In-game graphics are top-notch as well - gliding with Raziel's tattered, half-destroyed wings never looked smoother, his movement never seemed as fluid, and the Soul Reaver looks much more convincing as a soul-devouring wraith blade. You will enjoy the lighting effects in different areas with their subtle differences in coloring, you will admire the grand feel of Nosgoth's architecture, and, of course, thoroughly enjoy using Soul Reaver in combat because of the combat effects. Overall, the graphics are a treat for a gamer's sore eyes.
Soul Reaver 2 - Platform: PlayStation 2
This epic game is available on Amazon. If you don't already have it your collection, and you're a fan of the series, you should consider adding it to your treasure chest. If you don't know Legacy of Kain, consider giving it a shot. You won't regret it.
Strengths and weaknesses of gameplay
Photo Credit: Soul Reaver 2 screenshot | Amazon.com
Gameplay in Soul Reaver 2 is also significantly improved when compared to Soul Reaver. The combat remains much the same in principle, only drastically improved in execution, especially when you get to use the new-gained powers of the Reaver. Jumping, climbing ledges and swimming are all fun and engaging as you discover new areas and proceed further into the game. There are more weapons in Soul Reaver 2, and the wraith blade can also transform into its elemental forms - Dark, Light, Water and Fire. You will need those powers to unlock doors of corresponding elements later on in the game. The basic concept of the game remains much the same as Raziel has to defeat his enemies and devour their souls to sustain himself.
A big improvement of the puzzles also made a lot of fans of Soul Reaver very happy. There were certain complaints that the puzzles in the previous game were a bit repetitive with all the block moving and lever pulling, but Soul Reaver 2 offers a lot of variety in this aspect.
There is still a number of puzzles to be solved by switching back and forth between the Spectral and Material Realm, based on the same principle as in Soul Reaver. Some areas distort in the Spectral Realm, so you have to switch to the ghostly world and cross these areas there, and then find a conduit back to Material Realm. However, the rest of the puzzles are more elaborate and you have to think a bit more to get by them. For instance, you have to point beams of light in correct directions, redirect them with mirrors and so on, in order to make them activate some mechanisms. Soul Reaver 2, in a nutshell, offers more variety.
We could say that this game is a classic action-adventure, and you may notice some similarities with Tomb Raider, another game series by Eidos. However, Legacy of Kain series generally is more story driven and compelling in that sense, and much much darker, whilst Tomb Raider is more action driven. These two series are thus too difficult to compare. It would be as absurd as if we compared Lara Croft to Raziel. By which standards and which criteria? Jaw possession?
The only problem with the game is that it is, unlike its predecessor, linear. There are not much optional areas to explore, and you will always be exactly where you are supposed to be. This takes a little bit of fun away.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 - Platform: PC
If you prefer playing video games on PC, that's also fine. This game is available for your enjoyment for your computer.
Music and voice acting
Photo Credit: Soul Reaver 2 screenshot | Amazon.com
Music of Soul Reaver 2 was yet again composed by Kurt Harland of the Information Society band, but this time, unlike in Soul Reaver, Jim Hedges made several compositions as well. Just like in Soul Reaver, the tracks are triggered based on the scenes - thus they are a bit looping at times. However, all of the tracks are cleverly matched with the story and you cannot say that they do not fit exactly where they are. In fact, the soundtracks of both Soul Reavers was so well received that a compilation of tracks from Soul Reaver and Soul Reaver 2 was published in 2001. Proof enough of the quality of music in these games.
As for voice acting, we have again the brilliant Michael Bell and Simon Templeton as Raziel and Kain, respectively. Tony Jay reprised his excellent role of The Elder God, and Anna Gunn was once more Ariel. The list of fantastic actors goes on, and all of them did an outstanding job at making this story even more grand. Legacy of Kain series still has one of the best (if not THE best) voice acting in the world of games.
Soundtrack - Kurt Harland & Jim Hedges
The best moody video game music you'll ever find.
What's a game without an action figure?
Overall impression and replay value of Soul Reaver 2
Soul Reaver two introduces more variety into an already winning concept of Soul Reaver. The graphics are improved, according to standards of new generation consoles, and the series looks better than ever. The game will spend as many hours of your time as you allow it, rarely becoming boring and uninteresting. Even if you play Soul Reaver 2 without having played Blood Omen and Soul Reaver, you will still understand enough.
In case you have not played this game, you should. You are missing out. And if you have the chance to play the entire series, do so. By all means. It remains better than most games you can find right now.