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PS2 - Legacy Of Kain: Defiance, 8/10

Aug 11 2005, 08:53 PM (Post #1)
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Name Legacy Of Kain : Defiance
Genre 3D Platformer
Release Date November 11th 2003

I'll start by saying it. I am a huge Legacy Of Kain fan. This is the fifth game in the series, the fourth I have played, and the third I have bought. Like most people, I was first put off with the 3rd Character perspective. "What the heck!" I thought "This isn't LOK!".

Oh yes it is.

The game begins with you playing as Kain. Superb, It's been years since you have been able to take control of the main man himself, and here you are, deciding where the beast (already equiped with weapon, levitating and bar-phasing-through abilities right off the bat) goes. Well kind of. To begin with you are rather much dragged through the opening storyline, hunting down Moebius through Nosgoth, filling new-comers in with the basic storyline of the past games. And then you are taken out of Kain's story and given control of Raziel. And here is where the shock hits.

After getting used to the perspective, the fighting control, the blood and telekinesis power levels, and the re-hashing of a story you already knew, you are finally given control of the baddest-ass in all of 'gothic' gaming. And guess what - he plays the exact same as Kain. Not only that, but his power level is more frustrating to understand. Worse still, while Kain's fighting seemed fresh and cool, Raziels pales in comparison to Soul Reaver 2 or even the first Soul Reaver. Add to this the even more boring and frustrating opening (yeah, the Elder god doesn't want Raziel to escape, I get it). However, peservere, and you will be rewarded. Not only will you get to play as Kain again (and for half of the game too), but you will discover a lot more behind this game than just SR with a 3rd Person perspective. For starters, shifting between dimensions has changed, thanks to the Elder gods anger. The atmosphere in the game is more spooky and full than the previous two instalments (where you could go for 40 minutes without encountering much more than a few annoying 'ghosts'). The combat is improved, as are upgrades, and explanations of what you have to do. Whereas before you had a map pointing you in a vague direction, and had to rely on your friends or a walkthrough to puzzle out what to do next, you can now access a list of the two latest objectives to be completed via a simple press of the button. Add to this the constantly decreasing life-force, adding a new element of urgency to a series that seemed bare and boring at points before, and you have an astounding upgrade.

However it does have some drawbacks. Whilst the fighting is a lot more fun now, thanks to the inclusion of telekinesis, and the ability to throw your opponent into spikes, fire (particularly good if you enjoyed the reactions of guards in Red Faction after you plant a mine on their face or ignite them with a flamethrower), and off of walls, it begins to feel a bit too arcadey. Upgrades no longer require drawn out rushing around locations to discover long-lost myth. Nope, now you collect power ups. Not even hidden ones. Power ups just floating there in mid air. Albeit it requires slight investigation, most power ups are far too easy to find.

Yet, in this case, the good far outweights the bad.

Graphics: 6/10
The atmosphere is astounding, as are the locations. However, Kain and Raziel are far too small, as are their opponents. It is often hard to distinguish one thing from the other. And after the astounding, full-3D, awesome scenes (in particular with the deaths) of the last two games, this top-down perspective feels disappointing and takes too long to get used to.

Sound: 6/10
Typical LOK - atmospheric, nothing much else. The constant moaning of spiritual world lost souls is particularly irrating. However, I tend to turn off all music when playing this game, so the pathetic noises go hand in hand with the whole experience. But apart from the whole product, they fail to stand up on their own.

Gameplay: 9/10
The fighting is much more fun than the last games. The puzzles are less annoying. At times it feels as if you have traded off a great adventure for some arcade hits, but as with most LOK games, the storyline and visuals is enough to push you past these little annoyances. And as much as I love the neo-1st Person, open, style of the two Soul Reaver games, this is a vast improvement.

Replay: 2/10
Die-hards may want to go back to collect everything they missed. Fans may wish to re-play simply to experience it all again. Most will only start over if they delete their file or wait months between games and forget what they were doing. This scenario may have happened (albeit to me a few times) in the past games, but with the inclusion of a definite "what should I do" part of the pause screen, this situation seems unlikely. Which, in this case, is actually a good thing.

Overall: 8/10

Final thoughts: This game, on it's own, is a fun revamp of a classic in a way Prince Of Persia managed, only sans the mass-media hysteria. It is the greatest in the series, full stop. As a long-time movie, perhaps Soul Reaver (1 or 2) would best it. As a cool game to play in the dark for a few hours, perhaps Soul Reaver (1 or 2) would best it. As a fun game to play, from start to finish without stop, to enjoy (almost) every moment of it, and to actually want to perservere for more than the next cutscene (which in this instalment comes with both subtitles and a handy 'skip' function), Defiance wins hands down. Plus, there is the addition of my all-time favourite - the save anywhere function.
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Aug 11 2005, 09:28 PM (Post #2)
Not Odd anymore
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Very very good review ssmile.gif Very extensive. Thanks Garlic
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