Souls: A nutritious part of a complete breakfast.
Raziel's pain is neverending. He was once a noble, part of the vampire elite ruling the world of Nosgoth. Then he had the misfortune of growing wings. His "father" Kain, jealous that one of his progeny had evolved beyond him, threw Raziel into the Lake of the Dead to wallow in torment forever. Or so Kain thought . . .
After a millenium had passed, an ancient being known only as the Elder pulled Raziel from the Lake of the Dead and breathed new "life" into him. No longer a vampire, Raziel must feed on the souls of his former brethren to survive. His goal: Revenge . . . oh, and he might happen to save Nosgoth along the way.
That is, of course, if this game was actually finished.
It's been a few months since the Playstation version of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver was released. Now out for the Dreamcast with graphics superior than even the PC version, the world of Nosgoth has never looked better. However, the problems with the game were never due to the graphics.
But first, the good. Few games are as amoral as Soul Reaver. Taking a cue from the original (See Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain), this game is not for people who like clear lines of good and evil. Raziel sees humans as little more than cattle. He's not out to save them, and couldn't care less about their fate. Humans: The Other Red Meat.
As I said before, the graphics are great. With the Dreamcast version, you can really see the world of Nosgoth in all its glory. Though I would've liked to see them up the detail a bit more on Raziel himself, the movement is smooth and clean. Of course, the Playstation version was amazing as well (given the older system), so it's not surprising that the Dreamcast version looks as it does.
The sound, for the most part, is excellent. The voice acting is some of the best I've heard. (Sega, please listen to this game. This is how voice acting should be.) My only major gripe is that the humans, if you're nice to them, don't make a single sound. They just watch you silently and fall to their knees if you get close to them. I know they're supposed to only be livestock, but even cows "moo."
The levels themselves are fairly big and well designed. Thanks to the sharper graphics on the Dreamcast, it's now easier to see that high ledge or climbing wall, making the level design that much better.
While I'm happy that a game developer actually took a little time creating their Dreamcast port instead of just throwing it together, they still didn't fix the main problem with the game.
Basically, the game is unfinished, and not even the Dreamcast's eye candy can hide that. In order to get this game to market quicker, someone decided to just stop where they were in the game, remove one of Raziel's brothers, remove many of the upgrades to your sword (which are actually still in the game - see codes), disable anything that didn't work fully, and slap a "To be Continued" sign where the ending should be. (Note: Technically, I didn't just ruin the ending of the game for you since it doesn't end!) There's no fight to the death with Kain, no returning the world to balance . . . Nothing!
After writing the Playstation review, some readers didn't believe me and claimed that "To be Continued" was the planned ending all along. Well, for those of you who want to know the truth, click here to download the original ending (410 KB Sound file).
Another casualty of the rushed release was the magic. The magic in Soul Reaver is well-hidden. You have to perform a series of complex puzzles to get any of the spells. This would be fine, if the spells actually did anything. They're completely and totally useless. It is a complete waste of time to search for them. Talk about anti-climactic.
Once again, it pains me to grade this game. What could have been one of the best third-person games ever is reduced to mediocrity because of the almighty dollar. Since they couldn't change the whole game only for the Dreamcast port, we're still stuck with an unfinished game. Given another 6 to 12 months of development, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver would have been a classic. As it stands, it's just okay.