Legacy of KainBlood Omen 2 Preview
Kain is coming to the GameCube. Read all about this upcoming action game inside.
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We recently had the chance to check out the GameCube conversion of Blood Omen 2, Eidos Interactive's latest entry in the Legacy of Kain series. Developed by Crystal Dynamics, the game was originally released for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 earlier this year. Development on the GameCube version, however, is being handled by Netherlands-based developer Nixxes Software. Although our version of the game wasn't final, it appeared to be a solid conversion, and it looked and ran well.
For those unfamiliar with Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2 and the Legacy of Kain games, the series follows the adventures of Kain, a surly vampire who first came to our attention in the original Legacy of Kain, which was released for the PlayStation in 1996. Although the franchise has since split into two lines--the Soul Reaver series and the Blood Omen series--you focus only on Kain's exploits in Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2. The game takes place 400 years after the original game and puts you in control of Kain after he's done a nice bit of maiming and killing with his army of vampires. Unfortunately, the fun times were brought to an end after Kain was killed by a vampire-hunting knight. Proving you can't keep a good vampire down, you'll start the game shortly after Kain's resurrection at the hands of a group of vampires called the Cabal. While a bit shaky on his feet initially--because mystical resurrection can be a real drag--Kain is brought up to speed quickly after a brief introduction on the finer aspects of his vampiric abilities by a member of the mysterious Cabal. Once that's done you can focus on Kain's main quest in the game, which is to kick butt and take names while retaking his bloody rule.
As far as the game's content goes, Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2 will offer everything found in the PlayStation 2 and Xbox games released last year. The action will play out in a third-person perspective and will feature a mix of combat, exploration, puzzle solving, and good old-fashioned bloodsucking. In combat you can use Kain's vampiric powers or a variety of weapons for a far more personal and painful touch. Exploration is fairly straightforward--you will check out levels and find ways to progress further. Puzzle solving is obviously tied in to exploration in the game, and you'll have to use your head to make your way to level exits and boss fights. Along the way you'll find plenty of opportunities to suck some blood out of innocent bystanders if the urge hits you.
Control in the game remains solid and is mapped out fairly well to the GameCube pad. You'll move Kain with the analog stick and manipulate the camera with the C stick. The A button will let you jump and glide when you hold it down. The B button will serve as a multipurpose action button and will let you attack, pick up weapons, open doors, activate switches, and grab hold of objects. The X button will let you use Kain's dark gift abilities, which he'll earn over the course of the game. Y will let you suck blood, grab people, and open certain types of chests. The left trigger will let you block. You'll be able to choose from two blocking types before you start the game. The user-friendly assisted type lets you block by holding the button down, while the more challenging skilled type requires you to tap the button as each attack on you starts. The D pad will let you toggle between enemies in combat mode and cycle through the dark gifts menu that can be brought up by holding the Z button.
Graphically the game has made a respectable trip over to the GameCube, retaining the look of its PlayStation 2 and Xbox cousins. Kain and company are detailed and made up of a respectable number of polygons. The animation could be better though--some of the characters move as if their arthritis is flaring up--but it's on par with the previous incarnations of the game. Some graphical elements, such as mist and lighting, and some special effects, such as the blood effect when Kain gets his suck on, have been tightened up some.
The game's audio, one of its strongest elements, has also fared well. You'll hear the voice work used in the previous incarnations, most notably Kain himself, who is voiced by Simon Templeman, who has been Kain's voice since the first game. In addition to its good voice work, Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2 will feature the ambient sound heard in the other versions, which helps set the tone for the various environments you'll find yourself in.
From what we've played so far, Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2 is turning out pretty well on the GameCube. While it would be nice to see some new content thrown in, what is included is shaping up just fine. The graphics are solid, the sound is strong, and the control is good. GameCube owners who are looking for some undead action will want to keep an eye out for the game when it ships early next month.