Damnit Eidos, it could have been perfect. So perfect, in fact, that I wouldn’t have to spend an entire column on the mixed blessing that has been Legacy of Kain: Defiance.
“Mixed, you say? But why, LOK devotee?”
Well you see, respective heads of Eidos and Crystal Dynamics, over my precious winter break, even before embarking on Final Fantasy VII and the chosen game from my previous column, I had decided to spend a little time with one of the better contemporary franchises that has graced the next-gen consoles. For the duration of this column, I will attempt to convey to you the sense of madness and frustration that I NEVER HAD TO EXPERIENCE playing Defiance; madness and frustration that could have been avoided had you just spent that little extra amount of time.
You see, rather than take up a saddle on a ‘chocobo’ or juggle the undead with bullets in mid-air, I decided to make a slight detour. A rather pleasurable detour, if I may be so inclined to state now. A detour to a franchise, whose splendor and grace I had written about prior to the fifth game’s release. Rather than indulge with Square’s purported masterpiece, I decided to spend some time with two personalities I feel I’ve got to know quite well: Kain and Razial.
So, after a long and somewhat tedious three months of academia, I felt it only proper to kick off what was to be a spectacular gaming binge with Defiance; the LOK game that would bring to us the begging questions we so desired, and a brand-spankin’-new combat system to wipe the floor of Sarafan Monks and Hylden alike. And to think- it would follow not one personality throughout the game, but TWO!!! Not only could I drink my fill of blood in the most fashionable use of telekinesis in a videogame since Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 with Kain, but I could also pack the souls away with Razial like Sally Struthers with a skeleton key at a Hostess processing plant! And since the X-Box version offers in-game Dolby Digital 5.1 for all the awesome voice acting by Simon Templeton and Michael Bell! I need not go on- you already had me at the title.
So, after the machinations of the holiday time, going to church and visiting family and friends, the ‘me’ time had finally arrived. With my sister at my side (who has also fallen in love with the story) and rabid hunger for more, I popped the disc in and began to play. It’s been a long time since Soul Reaver 2; hell- enough time to get both Blood Omens out of the way. So the odyssey began!
And all was beautiful. Aside from the requisite points of frustration in trying to find that one random switch to move a mountain or such, all was damned well. Familiar faces came into the fold, and sprawled out the continuing saga with all the cutting edge voice acting and stellar graphics I’ve come to expect from you guys. Hell- it might have been difficult at first, but after a while I could impale characters on nearby spike-like fixtures with ease. As with prior titles in the Legacy of Kain series, I had once again fallen under the spell of the game as a whole- and no force short of the Elder God himself could have pulled me away from such a blissful entrenchment into this awesome gaming experience.
EXCEPT FOR THE DAMNED EVENTS TO FOLLOW IN CHAPTER 8.
(Now, as a note to you readers who want to play the games, consider this a spoiler alert. I’m honestly going to try to do my damnedest to not divulge anything extremely pertinent to the story, but it might be necessary to do so- as no one should have to suffer this potentially game-ending glitch, especially in a Legacy of Kain game! However, even with this in mind, this will probably only make sense to those who have actually played it. Regardless, consider yourselves warned.)
So there I am as Razial in the beginning of Chapter 8 of the game, which takes place at Vorador’s Mansion. The level started out decent enough; try to open his front door, and statues come alive to make mincemeat out of my favorite blue non-Smurf protagonist. Yeah- all well and good, as I take them down with only minimal loss of soul energy and enough exercise in hit evasion for a week. Apparently they suffered so hard, this brought poor Vorador’s patio down and left a crack in the window.
Now here is where the glitch comes into play.
You see, after getting to that window, you can strike it once to make it a little bit more ‘permeable’ than it once was. However, one could also easily mistake it for one of the many new breakable-wall portions of the game that need two or three hits to destroy; which is what I did. I had began to swipe at it, rushing at it in an intense fury, only for a glitch in the game to allow me to pass though the wall! in the Material Realm. Only after a godsend game save that I had at the end of Chapter 7, I found out two truths.
If you had Razial pass through it in the Spectral Realm, the normal course of events was to follow: you would rematerialize in the Material Realm in a room where upon rematerializing, the doors would shut and would not open until you defeated the room full of enemies. Upon getting rid of them, all of the doors would open, and the game progresses as normal. Merry Christmas indeed.
But if you experienced the glitch like I did, meaning you sent Razial through the window through the Material Realm, you were screwed. You would run through the aforementioned room, and not trigger the necessary event until later, concurrently with ANOTHER event, and the doors that closed shut would remain shut, thus impeding any further progress. READ: you were screwed.
Following this, there was a puzzle to be completed in good LOK fashion, which involved getting three spears. The first non-glitch route allowed for the completion of this. The second route did not, and would thus prematurely end the game for the player. Out of this whole debacle, I’ve asked myself one simple question: couldn’t this sort of thing have been avoided?
I mean, seriously- it wouldn’t have killed the LOK adoring public a month or two of simply more testing just to remedy a thing like this?!?!? Quite frankly, I was damned pissed off when this first happened to me. To think- I dropped 50 of my hard-earned dollars on an installment to, in my opinion, one of the most refreshingly original representations of a classic story of revenge and sacrifice, ONLY TO HAVE IT NEARLY END DUE TO ONE LOUSY F-ING GLITCH!?!?!?!??!?!
Really now- at this point, I don’t know whom to blame. A part of me wants to blame Eidos, because it’s really easy to see how a company would want to capitalize on maximizing their profits from a triple-A title like this, without allowing the testers at Crystal Dynamics the proper time to find and kill glitches like the one mentioned above. Nintendo delays their triple A titles all the time for stuff like this, and have they lost anything from doing so? Quite the contrary; people know they rock ass. Same with Microsoft and Halo 2; sure, it’s been delayed again, but I’m confident that it was for a good reason.
However, at the same time, if that is the case, I can’t blame them for wanting to get their market out to the public sooner; in doing so, they were feeding the already ravenous appetite of fans like myself. Eidos gets their franchise out to the market, and fans are able to continue the story that they love so much that had been put on hold for approximately 2 years.
In that regard, it’s easy to see how the testing team at Crystal Dynamics might have missed this glitch altogether, thus dooming an unfortunate segment of the population to the game-ending glitch in Vorador’s Mansion. Hell- according to The Lost Worlds, the European release date is in now in February, presumably to hammer stuff like this out. If this is indeed the case, then I credit Eidos for trying to make it right across the pond.
But that still leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth; that Eidos let what has turned out to be a great game out of the gate with a glitch like that. So it is with that bitter taste still on the proverbial tongue I make this plea:
“In spite of a projected profit loss, or clamoring fan demand, please take the extra time needed to clear bugs and glitches like the one found in Vorador’s Mansion. It nearly killed the entire gaming experience for me, and others like me. Take all the time you need to clear stuff like this up, because in the end, we’ll all be happy gamers.”
That said, and despite sounding really harsh at some points in this column, I would like to say that Defiance is a damned awesome game- the game that all you LOK fans have been waiting for. Crystal Dynamics have done a fine job crafting this latest chapter in the series all the way from the story to the game’s overall presentation- not to mention that the battle system really is something to write home about. The course of the game will satisfy a lot of questions, and still leave you asking for more when you’re done. Just remember to do what I mentioned at Vorador’s Mansion, and you should be fine.
So with all that said, I turn my head to the gaming future in hopes that I will be able to enjoy more Legacy of Kain games for years to come- that is, glitch-free of course.
Thorough work for thorough play- that’s the Gamer’s Conscience.