Strunk and White’s Elements of Style orders writers to “omit all unnecessary words.” Those are words to live by, and the designers at Crystal Dynamics would have done well to follow them. The team that developed Soul Reaver 2 took an intriguing saga and weighed it down with too much dialogue and too many confusing plot points. As a result, what’s supposed to be a fast-paced game with puzzles in the Tomb Raider vein drags on with no clear purpose. It’s a shadow of the original, which was one of the better action/adventures for the PC and PlayStation in 1999.
Constant, lengthy interruptions are the biggest problem. The story is interesting enough, but it falls flat in the telling. The tale opens immediately after the premature conclusion of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, with your avenging vampiric warrior Raziel finally confronting his evil arch-nemesis, Kain. Unfortunately, this confrontation consists of nothing but choice invectives spread out over nearly ten minutes. When it finally ends, another ten-minute conversation immediately commences. And so it goes for much of the game. Sitting through these long-winded expository passages (that can’t be skipped) will take up at least two hours of your time from start to finish. That’s a mighty long stretch, since the total length of the game is about twelve hours.
The outstanding premise in Soul Reaver 2 and the first-rate voice acting help make the expository sequences more bearable. Hennig’s dialogue is mostly top-notch, and the experienced team of character actors bring her words to life admirably. Most series veterans have returned, including Tony Bell as Raziel, Simon Templeman as Kain, and Tony Jay as the Elder God. The quality voice work goes a long way here, as it did before.