The runaway hit from Eidos and Crystal Dynamics that appeared last year on the Playstation and PC has now made the transition over to the Dreamcast. There has been a lot of hype surrounding this title ever since it was announced a short time ago. Does Soul Reaver: Legacy of Kain deliver? Mostly.
As Raziel, you must wander Nosgoth, the land of shadows and death, in order to redeem your tortured soul and set right the wrongs you committed as the Vampire Lord Kaiin's lieutenant. In order to return balance to Nosgoth, Raziel must destroy Kain and his evil brothers. Thus, the journey begins.
In general the graphics are quite impressive. With each new game on the Dreamcast, it appears developers are becoming more comfortable with the Dreamcast environment. The DC version of Kain goes far beyond the jagged edges and blurred color found in the Playstation version. It even rivals the PC accelerated version in terms of high frame rates and texture effects. The game runs along a smooth and consistent 60 frames per second refresh rate. Even the FMA has been enhanced in order to take advantage of the Dreamcast's superior capabilities. The opening sequence is absolute eye candy to say the least and will give you a good idea of what to further expect as you progress.
The environments found within the game are quite dark and creepy. The developers have effectively conveyed an atmosphere that straight out of a hellish nightmare. The beauty of the game is how the presentation continues to make you gawk as the game progresses. The wall and floor designs found in the different cathedrals are unique and get more gruesome as you go further into the hellish realm of Nosgoth.
It is the special effects in Kain that really shine in the Dreamcast version and that were simply impossible to reproduce on Playstation. If you have played the Playstation version it seemed to have too much fog which deteriorated from the gameplay. In the Dreamcast version this fog has been changed into a light mist which is nice to look at and more importantly it conveys and enhances the game's overall dark mood. In addition you will find some splendid transparency and light sourcing effects.
Now on the downside. The character models seem to have been ignored in the translation progress. The enemies and especially the bosses are still rough around the edges and to some extent look out of place with such impressive background visuals. Raziel himself is sub-par for Dreamcast's superior graphics. It becomes quite noticeable when you go from playing Kain to playing the likes of Shenmue or Code Veronica. One other problem exists: while the environments are impressive to look at, the textures used seem to repeat frequently throughout the game. What this does is cause confusion when you are trying to figure out where you are going. In addition you will have to go back over the same area a number of times, causing the same confusion.
The soundtrack for Kain is above par. It is a mixture of traditional haunting melodies mixed in with some sort of sick wacko horror melodies. It definitely sets the stage for the game and nicely compliments the dark and creepy environments. The soundtrack is great although somewhat short in nature. More variety and longer sets would have been better as there are long stretches of time where you are running around and hearing nothing (a la Tomb Raider).
The sound effects are well done and convey true horror and evil. For example, when you impale your enemy, the sound effects give it that "oh my!" feeling as the enemy slides down your spear.
Lastly the voice acting. Eidos and Crystal Dynamics have spared no expense in hiring professional voice actors to convey the powerful and well scripted story. From the main hero Raziel down to the supporting characters, each voice is unique, powerful and most importantly very believable.