Now this one's going back a bit. Released in 1997 when the PlayStation was still in it's youth, Blood Omen has since become a bit of a cult-classic, but sadly has never found favour with the masses. The arrival of it's strangely popular sequel Soul Reaver: Legacy of Kain in 1999 sent it sulking back to it's crypt, destined to be overshadowed by it's glossy-but-dull younger brother. Developed by Silicon Knights, Legacy of Kain is a half RPG, half hack 'en slash adventure with the action taking place being viewed from above (top-down). The story goes that Kain, a nobleman, stops by at a tavern one night, tired from his travels. Upon being refused refuge and even a drink, Kain has to leave. He is instantly ambushed by a mob, who murder him. Kain arrives in hell, and is immediately approached by a creepy Necromancer, who offers him the chance to avenge his death - Kain accepts without a thought to the consequences... ...And now he is a vampire. Transformed, he awakens in the sanctuary of his crypt, and this is where the player comes in. Avenging his death comes easily to Kain - within minutes of your quest beginning the gang of weak goons are slaughtered. The Necromancer has a lot more in store for our vampire however, and summons him to the 'Pillars of Nosgoth'. The pillars all represent something different; energy, nature, time, mind and death among them, and they need restoring - a task Kain must carry out by killing the people linked to each, so as to save Nosgoth from armageddon. Kain is definately one of the best game characters ever concieved. It's not just that he's powerful, humourous and has a streak of extreme ruthlessness in him; the entire concept of playing the anti-hero for a change opens up all kinds of possibilites - for instance when you walk into villages, rather than talking to it's community of people like in other R.P.G's, you can set about a mass slaughter
, hacking everyone to pieces and drinking their blood in the process, with Kain's wicked laugh accompained by the screams of his victims. It's deceptively simple at first. On the surface, Blood Omen appears to be little more than a shallow adventure which invovles the killing of anything that dares to move. Survival is, as in 99% of games, the key to your success and moving through enemy-filled screens until some kind of goal (a village or a cave usually) is reached is also an integral part of the game. Delve a little deeper though, and you'll find Blood Omen to be one of the most ambitious PlayStation games ever created. Being a vampire, Kain reacts in various ways to different weather states and conditions. The developers have ingeniously implemented a game-clock that circulates during the gameplay. At night time, it's not just your surroundings that get darker; Kain also becomes stronger. With the changing times of day come some great little touches such as villagers going inside to sleep when darkness falls whilst they amble around outside their houses in the light, and there are also some lanterns lighting paths so you can see where you are going. It's wise to take shelter in the event of snow or rain, both prove damaging to vampire's and so it's best not to stick around in them. There are also many secrets to behold in the event of a full moon... Far and away the most impressive feature of Legacy of Kain is the ability to morph between no less than five different forms; vampire, human, bat, wolf and mist. As a bat, Kain can travel to certain landmarks in a very short space of time (each time with a lovely video clip of the journey); wolf allows greater speed, more power and the ability to leap to higher ground; human can allow Kain the luxury of wondering round certain areas without being attacked by humans (pressing O may even get some hints out of them!). Finally, the fabulous Mist form opens up a massiv
e selection of secret areas, stretching back as far as the first few screens in the game - walking on water and through fences/gates/doors/cracks in walls is made possible. Lots of nasty items and spells can be discovered lying around Nosgoth - items including 'Implode' (one of Kain's personal favourites!) that shrinks the enemies skins, ruptures their organs, crushes their bones and eventually makes them burst "spraying their contents for all to see"; 'Flay' sends tracking shurikens to rip the flesh from their target and the 'Taro Deck' randomly chooses a demise for the luckless foe. Spells prove more versatile - among them is Kain's ability to possess a foe, giving you complete control of them, for as long as you can keep them alive that is. 'Blood Shower' shows that Kain is indeed a heavy drinker as he can simultaneously suck the blood of everyone within his reach - what a guy! Phew, the innovations don't end here either, as while I'm on the subject of blood, there are four different colour-based types. Simply, Red replenshies health, Blue restores Magic, Green poisons the vampire and Black damages. Black and green are obviously best avoided - usually found in the undead, whilst red is generally taken from humans, and blue from the blood of spirits (usually people you have already killed!). The controls are easy enough to get to grips with - D-Pad to move, square to perform a physical attack, X to use item/magic and O to drink blood. Simple! Perhaps my only gripe is that there is no run feature, and so consequently the game never moves at a particularly fast pace, and sometimes you wish it would get a shift on. Visually, it may not look a million dollars or feature hundreds and thousands of polygons, but design-wise the settings and characters are superb, and suit the games theme perfectly. Villages are populated with butchers, brothels, taverns and blacksmith's and
whilst none hold anything significant to the outcome of the story, it's worth admiring them for the sheer detail on offer - they are all very individual. The presentation is fairly good and the FMV sequences were among the very best when Blood Omen first appeared all those years ago. The playing area is that is Nosgoth is vast, allowing you to explore a huge world of towns, cities, caves and dungeons. But whilst countless other R.P.G's (Final Fantasy's among them) use a World Map made up of inanimate continents linking significant areas, Blood Omen allows you to explore every last metre of forest, valley and woodland that lies inbetween. The result is that the gaming environment feels massive and less linear than others like it. As with every ambitious game in history, there are inevitably some short-comings, in this case mainly to do with loading times. There are a lot of loading times, one between every screen and whilst no individual one is really lengthy, they really add up. Having to switch between weapons just for a simple task (clearing a boulder or tree out of your path) is extremely testing and the only way to access weapons is from the inventory menu, which has to load in, and then load out again. This adventure expects a lot of the PlayStation hardware to be fair, and at times when there are tonnes of enemies on screen with you, the action slows to a crawl. These quite minor problems can be overlooked however and if you really get into it, you'll be engrossed for weeks - there is easily forty hours worth of play to be had from here. Things don't start to get stale in the second half of the game and if anything become even better, which is definately a good thing. The learning-curve is well-judged, allowing for beginners to really get stuck in, and increases at a good enough rate to challenge veterans. Oh, there are two endings too. The 'good ending' - save the world/kill Kain, or the 'bad ending
39; destroy everything and have Kain survive - the next game in the Legacy of Kain series assume's you choose the latter! Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain is sadly not the most common game now although I'm sure it can be discovered second-hand somewhere for around a tenner. Many may dismiss it's quality next to the much better-looking Soul Reaver, but if it's enjoyment, originality and value you are looking for, this may just prove a Good Omen.
Like most of my games, I bought this one years ago, but it has to be my favourite Playstation game. The Storyline goes something like this: While travelling, you come to a place where the local inkeeper wont let you stay. You are then set upon by rouges and bandits and stabbed to death with your own sword! A necromancer then brings you back to life as a vampire to extract vengeance from your attackers. After doing this you then realise what cost your vengeance has cost you and you try and seek out the necromancer to try and kill him while increasing your power, magic and weaponary along the way. You collect differnt magical powers, and learn more about your vampire powers going through the game, such as throwing fire or turning into a wolf, bat or mist. You also collect different types of armour that you can change into at any point. These armour and weaponary give you a better chance over differing types of the evil dead, for example the bone armour makes the lesser evil dead like skeletons and zombies ignore you, while the different types of wepons give you a better chance of chopping them up! As you go through the game the amount of armor and shiny objects of destruction will increase as you find them, or earn them throughout the game. The same is said of the magical powers. There is one I especially like and that is the "inspire hate" spell, which makes your enemys hate each other and attack one another! Like in any other game of this sort, you also collect objects and power-ups that help you move through the game with more ease. There are a couple of really nasty ones like "putresce" which melts your enemys body into a pile of green slime, and also anyone who touches the slime also, which comes in very useful if you are being attacked by multiple evil things! Another useful, but nasty one is "Flay" which is a slow tracking missile that rips the flesh of your opponent apart. mmm, lovely! Al
though this game is in 2D mostly, like the origional Zelda (by Nintendo) there are 3D scenes at specific points. I must admit that I like the 2D gaming, as the later Legasy of Kain setup was not to my liking (it was more like Tomb Raider with vampires). Blood Omen: Legasy of Kain is in my opinion the better of the two games, as I like the old style gaming experience. The game kept my attention and was very playable and addictive. In this orld of 3D gaming I wish they would make more games like this, rather than ones that have great graphics, but no playability or storyline. I am giving this game 5 stars as it will remain my favourite game for a long time to come, and given a choice I would buy this game again if it became lost or damaged.