I finished this baby a few days ago, and since I saw that very few people here even care about the series, I had no choice but to review it. There, I said it. Now, onward ho!
Legacy of Kain has been going on for three great games (and one beyond shitty one) before Defiance. The series was actually divided into two mini-series, each with its own plot arc: Blood Omen (which follows Kain, the bloodthirsty, mass-murdering vampiric main character of the series) and Soul Reaver (which follows Raziel, Kain’s ex-human, ex-vampire, soul-devouring spawn that wants revenge on him for reasons too complex to explain). Each game threw in more characters, more plot twists, and more shit than anyone can describe, until it reached the point that nobody who missed more than five minutes of a previous game could figure out what the hell was going on. Defiance was meant to change all that. Defiance did not fully succeed in changing all that.
The plot itself picks up where Soul Reaver 2 left off. Kain stopped Raziel’s destiny from occuring (since it was one reason the world was screwed over; also too complex to explain), but ends up screwing stuff up even more. Raziel loses his strength and returns to the Spectral Realm, where his master, the Elder God, is waiting. Kain, meanwhile, heads back to the Sarafan Stronghold to find Mobius, in order to learn where Raziel is. The actual story starts up rather slowly, but in the second half of the game, everything is just thrown at the player, which makes it feel rather unbalanced.
However, the plot has one major advantage over the previous games: it’s the first one to ANSWER MORE QUESTIONS THAN IT ASKS! This is further evidence that this was supposed to be the final game (although there WILL be one more). Really, every game up to this answered about two questions, then created about eighteen thousand more, so that you’d have to spend $50 on the next game to learn how things turn out.
Another big achievement was that this was the first game where you play as BOTH Kain and Raziel. Sadly, each one plays mostly the same, except for a few different specials and some basic manuevers. Also, Raziel is simply not fun to play as; his moves mostly stink, and he doesn’t get the coolest ability in the game until much later, while Kain starts with it from the get-go.
The gameplay is very much like Devil May Cry, in that it focuses on comboes, aireal attacks, and a few special moves. This actually makes the game very enjoyable, even for newbies. You can smack a guy with a two-hit combo, uppercut him, jump up and slam him onto the ground so that he bounces back up, and finish it all with a massive aerial combo. The best part, though, is the Telekinesis attacks. Both characters can use a basic TK blast (aka fireball) that does light damage, but Kain (and later, Raziel) can actually use his mind to grab opponents and throw them around like rag dolls. Archers staying too far away? Just pull them towards you! Too many enemies attacking? Just throw one into the others and throw them off-balance! But the best part is the environmental aspect. Using the same hold, Kain and Raziel can throw their puny enemies through weak walls, over cliffs, into freezing water, etc. The funnest part, though, is skewering them on spikes and setting them on fire using torches.
Sadly, they also took Devil May Cry’s fixed camera. While that arguably worked quite well for that game, LoK is a completely different kind of gameplay. They kept the various platform jumping from the previous games (along with Raziel’s plane shifting), but the camera is so messed up that it often blocks what you’re supposed to do. If you need to jump across a few loose platforms, the camera loves to just jump behind a wall, keeping you from seeing the platforms. Raziel can barely find the conduits (his new way of travelling between realms) due to the poor camera. If an enemy gets in front of the camera, you can’t see what the hell’s going on. The whole thing’s a mess.
Also, the plot WILL confuse anyone who hasn’t played the previous games. This time, though, the first game’s plot is greatly examplified, and since only a handful of people played the first game, it’s a safe bet that there’ll be much head-scratching going on among the LoK community. So, newbies can enjoy the gameplay, but will NEVER understand the plot unless they can get their hands on some rather aging games.
Overall, this is more of a game for true LoK veterans, although newbies are always welcomed (we need more players, damnit!). Also, the game is VERY short, so it’s more of a rental than an actual buying decision. Oh, and it finally brings back Kain’s old battle cry, “Vae Victus!” Really, BO2 was crap mostly because it didn’t include that one line. Listen to it sometime; it’s a classic!