One of the most popular vampire game franchises on the market, the Legacy of Kain series has been offering gamers bloody good fun since 1995. Throughout the first four installments in the series, the games alternated between telling the tale of the vampire king Kain, and his lieutenant Raziel. In the upcoming fifth installment, however, these two immortals are finally joining forces for the first time.
Defiance will make use of both characters' special abilities from previous games while updating the combat engine significantly. For instance, you can still use Kain's psychic abilities to fling enemies into walls or take control of an NPC to do your bidding. With Raziel, you can instantly shift between the material and physical realms. The update to the combat engine is even more impressive than ever, with quicker response times and more fluid movement. For instance, in earlier games, taking on more than one or two enemies was a daunting, and often impossible, task. However, in Defiance, whether playing as Kain or Raziel, your enhanced speed and strength makes it easy to dispatch several enemies at the same time.
Basically, the entire gameplay has been streamlined, making even the simplest of tasks that much more simple. For instance, when shifting between realms with Raziel, you no longer need to access a sub menu; all you have to do in Defiance is tap one of the shoulder buttons to perform this task. Raziel's wraith blade, the Soul Reaver, now tucks itself nicely into his arm except during combat, when it uncoils and lashes out with insane speed.
Graphically, Defiance is easily the best looking title to date, boasting loads of ambience, especially when Raziel is journeying through the spectral realm. The character models have also been given a nice update, especially Kain. Currently, the timeline of Defiance has not been disclosed, but Kain looks more like he did in the Soul Reaver series, as opposed to his younger visage from the Blood Omen side of the franchise. The main differences are graphical only, with Kain looking much more beefed up and detailed than he has in any other game to date. The environments look much like they did in Soul Reaver 2, with lots of lush growth encroaching on dilapidated buildings and other edifices.
At this point, not much of Defiance's story has been revealed, but it appears as if the game takes place after the events of Soul Reaver 2 but during a time earlier than Soul Reaver. For those familiar with the series, there is no set timeline to the games, as they don't take place in chronological order, so Defiance could be set during almost any timeframe.
Overall, Legacy of Kain: Defiance is looking remarkably sharp. It appears as if Eidos has finally heard the complaints from fans of the series and is pulling out all the stops to bring us the most exciting and polished game in the history of the franchise. Look for more information on this title in the future.
7/21/2003 Ryan Hartmann