Blood Omen 2
by Eidos Interactive
Blood Omen 2 is the sequel to the prequel of the two Soul Reaver games and after arriving on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 early last year the game finally arrives on GameCube. In the first Blood Omen game Kain was defeated by the Sarafan Lord. Four hundred years have passed since the events of the first game. Since the supposed death of Kain, much has changed and now Nosgoth is ruled by the Sarafan and the once dominant Kain and his fellow vampires, are all but gone save for a small collection of resistors called the Cabal.
You control Kain and the game begins with you in a very weakened state. Revived by Umah, a fellow vampire, you are disorientated and unaware of the events since your supposed demise at the hand of the Sarafan Lord. The first level of the game sees Umah revealing events that have happened since your defeat and showing you how to perform all the gameplay actions. Umah has revived you to work for the Cabal who want you to defeat the Sarafan. The Cabal feel that you are the ideal agent to kill the Sarafan Lord as he is unaware that you are alive and will not be expecting you to attack him.
At the beginning of the game Kain needs to build up his strength. He accomplishes this by sucking blood from his victims. Kain can attack victims with either his claws or a weapon that he has picked up from an earlier battle. Once the victim has been defeated Kain can suck the blood from the victim to revitalise himself. Kain also has Dark Gifts that can be used. As Kain progresses through the game he earns extra Dark Gifts which become invaluable to him particularly as he comes across more difficult enemies. One of these Dark Gifts is called Mist. Activating Mist whilst walking in a misty location enables Kain to become invisible to the nearby enemies and allows him to sneak upon these enemies and perform a surprise attack.
The game is full of puzzles, which are straightforward, that Kain must solve in order to progress. The Sarafan have placed many force fields around the city that block the path of vampires. Whenever Kain comes close to these, they will turn green to indicate their presence. Kain must search out the power supply, known as glyphs and deactivate them. He will then be able to pass through the previously blocked passage. Throughout the game Kain will encounter many levers, switches and blocks etc. that will require moving. Whenever a device or object can be activated in such a way it will glow.
Blood Omen 2 looks good and the dark nature of the game has been excellently conveyed in the style of the visuals. The dimly lit, almost medieval, streets have been realised very well indeed. The animation has been done well too. Whilst the framerate was disappointing with the PlayStation 2 version it seems better on the GameCube. The only pauses I encountered were for disk access. Thankfully though this didn't occur too often. If there is one disappointment with the graphics it's that they don't really improve on last years PlayStation 2 version (I haven't looked at the Xbox version so I can't comment on that) which is disappointing when you consider the time between the releases.
The game can be saved at any point you wish to, but it will only record your progress to the last checkpoint. These checkpoints are frequently scattered around. They are placed on the floor and Kain must pass over them to activate them. Whilst a checkpoint save system isn't my favourite method of saving a game, you never have to backtrack too far should you be killed.
The control method has been implemented well and actually felt more comfortable with the GameCube controller. The game is played from a third person view and the analogue stick is used for movement whilst the C stick is used to move the camera. The L button is used to block and can be set to either holding the button continuously to blanket block the attacks or needing to press the button for each individual attack, which requires more skill. The R button allows you to lock on to a target whilst attacking. This makes combat far less complicated and easy to get into. The B button is used for attack, use, pull and a multitude of other functions whilst the Y is used to activate the Dark Gifts and the A is used to jump.
Blood Omen II is a solid action game but there are some problems for deaf gamers. The only text feedback in the game is when the controls and gameplay commands are being described to you by Umah in the first level. There are no subtitles and no mission briefings in text at all. What makes this hard to take is that it's exactly the same as last years PS2 version. Surely subtitles could have been added to give deaf gamers access to Blood Omen 2?
Game Rating: 5.0/10