Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain

Release Date on PSN: September 10th 2009

Original Release: November 15th 1996

Blood Omen - Legacy of Kain

Story

Blood Omen is the first game in the Legacy of Kain series. As the name would suggest the story is centered on Kain, a noble who is murdered in the first few moments of the game, but he is given a chance for revenge by a Necromancer who brings him back to life or un-life as a vampire.

Blood Omen - Legacy of Kain

What really makes this game stand out is the quality of the voice acting, casting trained thespians as the characters was a stroke of brilliance and this is the best part of the game.

The way they use voice as makes you really invested in the story and gives you that push to keep you playing. Voice acting in games today could still learn a thing or two from this PSone classic, and at original release this feature was unheard of.

Gameplay

Blood Omen plays just as you’d think Diablo would with a directional pad. The controls are easy to get used to and rarely were there any issues with control except for a few jumping sections that can sometimes be confusing.

Blood Omen - Legacy of Kain

As you progress through the game you gain new abilities, spells and equipment, that range from raising your health and magic bars to learning how to become a werewolf and tear your enemies apart. Health as you would imagine is gained from drinking the blood of your enemies, if you hit them the right number of times they’ll hold this very Mortal Kombat “finish me” pose where you can feed. Also while traveling to villages you can feed on the locals before heading off to defeat one of the games many interesting bosses.

The difficulty isn’t too bad, but you’ll have to watch your resources carefully at some points, the learning curve is good, but you really get into the gameplay when you start receiving new abilities and equipment. All of which add some strategy to the game and make it that much richer.

Graphics

Blood Omen - Legacy of Kain

Although Blood Omen is a dated game, the 2d graphical style suit it well and the art direction in the game still make it immersive. Also some graphical decisions that were made (like having blood you drink from enemies spurt through the air into your mouth) make is still a gruesome game which was certainly surprising for a game of this generation. Graphically there is nothing spectacular but the attention to detail doesn’t make graphics a hindrance to the story.

How Blood Omen Legacy of Kain holds up today

Blood Omen Legacy of Kain certainly makes an impression on the first time player. This comes from the excellent voice work and gripping story that is so rare in games even today. The amount of time it takes to run through this game is also impressive. It took 35+ hours to complete and I was glued to my console for the duration. Graphically you’ll not be impressed but there are a few nice touches you’ll notice that Silicon Knights threw in that will keep it from being a problem.

 Blood Omen - Legacy of Kain

For the standard PSone classics fee of six dollars and with story elements and gameplay that keep you interested for 35+ hours, this gives you a great bang for your buck. I enjoyed every moment of it.

Highly recommended (if you have the time), and if you liked this one check out it’s sequel Soul Reavertoo.

9/10

Daikatana

Daikatana

Every so often I get a little spoiled with too much classic retrogaming goodness, and begin to take for granted the great storylines, coding and sheer fun that most of my game collection contains.  It’s at that point that I find it helpful to look back on a game that is best played while under the influence of mood-altering substances.  Such a game is the pile of stinking defecation brought to us in 2000 called Daikatana.

Daikatana - PC
Front cover of the 2000 PC game, Daikatana.

What hopes everyone had for this game.  After all, the lead designer was John Romero, he who was quoted to say, “Design is Law”, was one of the co-founders of id Software, and was one of the co-creators of the industry-changing Doom.  This was a person who gamers could count on to bring his “A” game to the design process.  Or so we thought.

Daikatana - PC
Hello, I’m John Romero, and you’re not.

Much has been said about the incredible excesses of Romero’s studio while working on Daikatana.  Around $40 million was spent on this game, which was a result of both Romero’s desire to be surrounded by luxury (complete with a multi-million dollar office at the very top of a skyscraper in Dallas), and his inability to keep the game on schedule.  Critical errors were made from the start of the project, as Romero estimated a seven-month development cycle using the Quake engine.  But id Software beat him to the market with Quake II, which meant retooling Daikatana with the Quake II engine to avoid looking like a tired old retread.  If that wasn’t enough, Romero saw his entire development team quit, which meant further delays.  Add these factors together and it’s easy to see how Daikatana quickly became a money pit.

Daikatana - PC
Gameplay screen for Daikatana.

Perhaps if Romero didn’t project himself as such a larger-than-life personality, gamers would have been more willing to forgive him for such a catastrophe.  But even the advertising campaign was offensive to the buying public.  “John Romero’s about to make you his bitch. Suck it down.”  Seriously, how does an ad copy like that make its way all the way from a brainstorming session to publication?  Simultaneously insulting, crude, and a challenge to all gamers, everywhere, this ad campaign created an expectation that anything short of a coding love child between Sid Meier and John Carmack would be marked a failure.

Daikatana - PC
The offensive Daikatana ad campaign.

Once the game was released, the sheer mediocrity of the product became evident.  The game mechanic was wonky, with the player getting the “benefit” of two sidekicks that you needed to keep alive to help solve various puzzles during the game.  Of course, they had the AI equivalent of a gnat, so you tended to see them die. A lot.  And did I mention that if the sidekicks died you lost the level?  That’s just bad design, which is unforgivable from someone who believes, “Design is Law.”  The good news for the sidekicks is that the AI for the enemies is just as bad, perhaps worse.  If a solid object is between you and your enemy, fret not, as they’ll keep trying to walk straight toward you rather than go around it.  You could even go out for a smoke break and come back in to see them still trying to become an irresistible force.  But you can’t take that break, as your stupid sidekicks will take the opportunity to walk directly into the line of fire while you’re gone.

Daikatana - PC
Gameplay screen for Daikatana.

In the end, Daikatana sold 200,000 copies, probably to people who wanted to create a drinking game based on how bad it was.  The stark reality was after $40 million in development expenses and only 200K of boxes sold, Daikatana was an epic failure on a scale reserved for such amazing debacles such as E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (for the Atari 2600).

Atari 2600 E.T.
Daikatana is E.T.’s bestest friend!

So, game designers, study well the example that John Romero has left you and take note of what happens when ego and extravagance trumps hard work and diligence.  Let’s not have another Daikatana happen to us again, shall we?

Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword

Tomb Raider- Curse of the Sword

Format- Gameboy Color

Genre- 2D platforming adventure

I recall the two Tomb Raider games on GBC getting a good reception by most game critics – I think the original even got 100% from one magazine, incredulously.

I never picked one up though, until now. And I can kind of see the appeal, even if age has tarnished its best feature.

Tomb Raider- Curse of the Sword

This is the second entry in the GBC Tomb Raider series, and it starts off in a fairly low budget fashion.

The opening cutscenes are all blurry still images, with some dodgy music in the background. After a few though, it’s straight into the game.

Tomb Raider- Curse of the Sword

You play as Lara Croft (i’m sure you knew that) and have been attacked in a friend’s museum and seen a rare artefact (I think it was a sword – the title would suggest so anyway), and have to get it back.

Irritatingly, you start off with no weapons, meaning you can be blocked off by bad guys who just stand in your way ominously, and hit you if you get too close. Those guys are real lazy – you can be jumping around, collecting keys, and they just don’t even move.

Tomb Raider- Curse of the Sword

So to start with, you’re merely climbing around, trying to find a way through the museum.

Instantly, you can tell a lot of effort has gone into the animation of Lara. For a GBC game the running, climbing and jumping is very fluid and quite impressive.

Tomb Raider- Curse of the Sword

It’s a game that has a similar style to Flashback and Prince of Persia though, in that your control of your character is very rigid. You can only move in set distances, and have to line up vertical jumps perfectly in order to get anywhere.

I personally find this style of game restrictive and not much fun, but I suppose it works for more considered platformers such as this.

Tomb Raider- Curse of the Sword

Eventually, after jumping and climbing your way through a few rooms you’ll get a gun. It won’t surprise you to find that using it is incredibly clunky, and firefights usually involve both sides taking unhealthy chunks of damage.

Fortunately health packs are everywhere, even though you do have to lean down to pick them up for some reason. You don’t even use them when you pick them up either – they’re stored on an inventory screen – so why you have to use a button to pick them up is rather odd.

Tomb Raider- Curse of the Sword

Save points, which are indicated by little diamonds, are also fairly frequent, meaning the game doesn’t get too frustrating.

Generally then, Curse of the Sword is a solid game, but hardly an incredible one. Many of its deficiencies are masked by the rather top notch graphics, but with age that advantage has faded. Worth a low priced punt, but not much else.

Weird Games: Mister Mosquito

Mister_Mosquito_Coverart

Normally when someone says, “This game sucks,” It is a bad thing. In this case, it is the main goal of a weird PlayStation 2 game that came out in 2002. Mister Mosquito is one of those games that in Japan makes way more sense than in the U.S. In this game, you play as a mosquito that lives in the home of the Yamada family. Your job is to suck and store up blood for the winter by biting the family members on specific parts of their body.

mr-mosquito

Now this might sound easy, but only certain areas are bitable and you must watch your stress meter while sucking blood. If you suck to fast or too slow, you can stress your victim out and if that happens you are dead. (Seriously, I could go so lowbrow with the sucking too fast or too slow, but I will let it be just this once.) In addition, if you are flying around and are spotted you enter a battle mode where you need to avoid being killed while hitting pressure points on your attacker to calm them down. (I wish my mosquitos did this.)

mr-mosquito gameplay

A strange game indeed this is, but for you perverts out there, there is a level where you have to suck blood from a girl in the bathtub. (No, I’m not kidding.) How many of you are going to either go play this or look up Youtube footage right now?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwxwxjpkKkU[/youtube]

You know we got you covered.