The Air Forge Demo was a promotional prerelease version of Soul Reaver 2 that centered around an early version of the Air Forge. Released between mid 2001 and early 2002 along with certain magazines, the demo was the only playable demonstration of Soul Reaver 2 created and was the last playable demo in the series.
- Name: Air Forge Demo
- Classification: Demos
- Game: Soul Reaver 2
- Source: Playstation Underground/Official U.S. Playstation Magazine/Official Playstation 2 Magazine (UK)
- Released: July 11, 2001
- Location: Air Forge/The Air Forge (chapter)
- Objectives: Recover the Blue heart and return it to its corpse.
- Related Articles: Air Forge (SR2), The Air Forge (chapter), Blue heart, Debug menus
Role and ContentsEdit
The Air Forge Demo was released as a part of various official PlayStation 2 Magazines demo discs from mid 2001 until early 2002. Focusing on and isolated to the main altar and surrounding areas of the Air Forge, the demo itself has quite a few different features than the final version of Soul Reaver 2. It includes a cinematic opening not seen anywhere else with Raziel swinging his wraithblade around, a soul flying by and creating the number "2" behind the game´s logo.
The demo starts with a slideshow shortly retelling the ending of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver and the course of Soul Reaver 2, followed by a hint on what to do in the demo and control scheme. Then the game loads and starts with a cutscene, which zooms in on different parts of Raziel's body from various angles and finishes up with Raziel´s right eye squinting. The player then can proceed to open the door with the Reaver. One of the most obvious changes is the skybox containing a blue moon and the presence of two Sarafan warriors in the main chamber.
Raziel starts in the square room just before the main chamber and just past the tunnel where the spirit beacon is in the retail version. Everything prior to this area has been blocked off and is not present in the demo. Only the Reaver/blue heart path is available, as all other paths are sealed and inaccessible. Once Raziel obtains the heart and brings it to the restrained corpse, the stone gargoyle eats the soul, starts blowing wind and the demo ends.
Major differences from the retail versionEdit
- The demo starts in the room just before the main chamber just beyond the spirit beacon in the final version.[SR2][SR2-C6]
- There are two Sarafan warrior pikemen in the hub area with the snake statue.[SR2][SR2-C6]
- Mice are seen on the ground in the first area.[SR2][SR2-C6]
- A large moon is seen in the sky throughout all of the Air Forge, which is gains deep glowing cracks in the Spectral Realm. Strange smoke-like 'spires' can also be seen in the distance in the skybox. The retail version instead features fast moving dark clouds and an empty starry sky.[SR2][SR2-C6]
- Swordsmen thralls guard all elemental fonts instead of the shades. The thrall classes are also reshuffled with Sorcerer thralls taking the places occupied by the swordsmen in the retail version.[SR2][SR2-C6]
- Crossed swords serve as an indication of being engaged in combat - this hud element was completely removed from the retail version of the game.[SR2][SR2-C6]
- During combat, Raziel produces the same audio cue as in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.[SR2][SR2-C6]
- The Reaver does the charging up move before inflicting the final blow to the enemy as seen in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.[SR2][SR2-C6][SR1]
- Souls fly for a second before being devoured by the Reaver.[SR2][SR2-C6]
- The compass is golden-blue as opposed to brown-orange.[SR2][SR2-C6]
- Several on-screen hints are presented throughout the demo.[SR2][SR2-C6]
- Enemies will still attack when Raziel is in possession of the Blue heart - in the retail version enemies retreat when Raziel is holding any of the hearts.[SR2][SR2-C6]
- The entrance doorway, the passages leading to the light and dark puzzle paths and the passages leading to their respective stone heads are blocked off an inaccessible - effectively forcing the player into playing only the Reaver/blue heart section.[SR2][SR2-C6]
- Emblem doors are missing and there are no Emblem keys present; held by Greater thralls or otherwise.[SR2][SR2-C6]
- There are no Checkpoints.[SR2][SR2-C6]
- The 'panther' heads atop the forge feature different symbology and colors relating to Light and Darkness - with blue and red respectively representing the two (as opposed to yellow and purple in the retail version). Neither mouth symbol glows as in the retail version.[SR2][SR2-C6]
The Air Forge demo provides something of a window into the development of Soul Reaver 2. It was originally featured as a playable demo in the "Jampack" summer 2001 edition of Playstation Underground released in July 2001 and was subsequently released again in October 2001 for the Official U.S. Playstation Magazine (issue #49) and the U.K. Official Playstation 2 Magazine (issue #12), before being reissued for the holiday edition of Playstation Underground in winter 2001, and the April 2002 issue of the Official U.S. Playstation Magazine (issue #55). The Air Forge demo was the only playable demo released for the development of Soul Reaver 2 and provided a snapshot of the development of the title as it stood in two periods of time (May and July 2001) some months before the ultimate release of Soul Reaver 2 on October 31, 2001.
The Air forge demo also features a number of behind the scenes background and menu items which are different from the release version, and these can provide a window into the developmental process at that time. Some aspects also differ between the two versions of the demo (see below):
- In the pause menu, the sound options have discreet values, rather than a simple on/off toggle.
- The Debug menu contains all seven Reaver enhancements - including the three deleted Reaver enhancements - although those not present in the retail version feature only placeholder effects when used, and only the Light and Dark Reaver are completed in both versions.
- The Debug menu includes projected shadow option for Raziel, which gives a full humanoid shadow - as seen in some pre-release images
- The Debug menu also enables the use of the widescreen.
- The Debug menu includes options to display without textures or in wireframe mode - options which are completely missing from the retail release but are present in Legacy of Kain: Defiance.[SR2][DEF]
- There is no map in the Ring menu.
- The US version of the demo can be hacked to enable the display of the full Ring menu which features a number of developmental and placeholder symbols, presumably standing in for the Pillar Glyphs - the symbols themselves cannot be activated and do not serve any function.
- The "SR2 Health" ability option in the Debug menu (which governs the change in behavior of the Wraith Blade from A Reaver in Time onward) is seen in the European and retail versions, but is missing from the U.S. version, suggesting that it was a late addition to the list. Similarly missing from the U.S. version is the "Blood Reaver" ability option which governs the invincibility when given the physical Reaver blade at the end of the game.
- The Debug menu contains lists of all the areas, but none of them can be loaded. Most interestingly, the European version has a list that is virtually identical to the release version, while the U.S. version contains a number of developmental listings that are not in the later lists, suggesting several areas that were deleted, reclassified or renamed during development.[SR2] These include:
- The Forge areas are mostly complete, while the revisited areas between them are absent or scattered, perhaps suggesting the forge areas were completed first. Listings for the Fire Forge and alternate time periods are absent.[SR2]
- "Dark 10" area of the Dark Forge is present, although it is missing in later lists.[SR2]
- In the Light Forge listing "Light 8" and "Light 15" are present where none appears in later lists. "Light 21" is not present despite existing in later lists.[SR2]
- The "Air" listing for the Air Forge are somewhat jumbled toward the end of the list and include entries for chambers titles "Light 23" and "Light 26".
- The "Pillars" entries dealing with the Pillars areas go no further than "Pillars 7" - where they encompass the entire Subterranean Ruins and go up to "Pillars 12" in later lists. Two further entries are seen in the list - perhaps developmental versions of the later rooms - are titled as "Brian 12" and "Jake 33"; perhaps relating to texture and lighting artists Brian Morrisroe and Jacob Wendler.[SR2]
- The areas relating to the Swamp - which consist of "Swamp 1" to "Swamp 5" and "Swamp 10" in the retail version - in this version omit "Swamp 5" and "Swamp 10" and contain jumbled entries for "Swamp 7" to "Swamp 9", "Swamp 66" and "Swamp 77" - perhaps relating to the deleted or reshuffled areas nearby or above the swamp.[SR2]
- A "Mountains" area is listed, perhaps relating to the alternate title for the wider Uschtenheim area which is listed under "Janos" in the retail game. The "Mountains" listing comprises of two rooms "Aaron 23" and "Aaron 24" - perhaps relating to environment and special effects artist Aaron Keller.[SR2]
- The "Janos" areas which comprise the entire area north of the Swamp in the retail version (including both Uschtenheim and Janos Audron's Retreat but minus the Air and Fire Forges) is much smaller, listing only rooms titled "Janos 1" to "Janos 7" and "Janos 10" (a room which itself is missing from later lists), perhaps suggesting that the "Janos" classification or the internal retreat areas were expanded in later stages of development.[SR2]
- The "Lake" title relating to the Great Southern Lake areas is greatly expanded, listing the entirety of rooms from "Lake 1" to "Lake 11", where only "2", "3", "4" and "9" appeared in the retail version. The final entry in the list "Sub Pil 1" presumably indicates the Subterranean Pillars Chamber (numbered as "Pillars 12" in the retail version) perhaps suggesting that several of the areas of the Subterranean Ruins were moved from the "Lake" to the "Pillars" classification, though it is unclear if a more concrete connection between the two areas was originally intended.[SR2]
At least two different versions of the demo disc were made available to different locations, and distributed by their respective localized versions of the Official Playstation/Playstation 2 magazine. In the UK/Europe the demo was released as part of the Official Playstation 2 magazine series and was numbered as issue 12 (October 2001) whilst in the US the disc was released as part of the Official U.S. Playstation magazine series and was numbered as issue 49/55 (October 2001/April 2002) or Playstation Underground in the "Jampack" Summer or Holiday editions (July 2001 or December 2001). The respective versions of Soul Reaver 2 do not differ significantly, with virtually identical gameplay and features in most places, however there were several minor differences seen between the two in terms effects and other information; with the US version appearing to use a slightly earlier build - dated in files as May 2001, compared to the July 2001 seen in the European demo. Some differences are:
- In the European version, the elements of the HUD display (Health coil and Compass) are not shown initially and do not appear until the player opens the Ring menu to activate the Wraith Blade and open the main chamber as prompted.
- Raziel's health/damage/refill balance seems to be altered between the two titles, possibly because of the inclusion of the "SR2 Health" ability (see below). In the European version Raziel´s health drops quickly when hit by enemies and it takes more souls to refill the health coil. In addition, the Reaver is very weak and requires several slashes to finish an enemy.
- The two versions use slightly different sound effects, with the US version featuring audio cues close to that of the original Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.[SR1]
- Several graphical elements in the US version including the appearance of the Wraith Blade are closer to their appearance in Soul Reaver.[SR1]
- A different musical track plays in the forge in the US version, seemingly a prototype of the track eventually used in the Dark Forge, but with extra flourishes that are missing from the retail and European versions.[SR2][SR2-C3]
- When accessed through Debug menus, many of the elemental Reaver upgrades are incomplete in the US version. Most bear some kind of placeholder graphical or audio effect. This contrasts with the European release which only features placeholder effects on the cut enhancements. Notably the Spirit Reaver in the US version uses a 'screech' similar to the effect ultimately used for the Spirit Reaver of Legacy of Kain: Defiance - itself a call back to the 'scream'of the Soul Reaver in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain.[DEF][DEF-C12][BO1][BO1-C8]
- Early versions of the Ring menu exist in the US Air Forge demo with a large amount of developmental and placeholder symbols for the ring menu entries. Initially the contains the full total of nine placeholder dots and with certain options the full set of placeholder symbols can be activated - consisting of including two Shift Glyph signs, four Eldritch energy designs, two Wraith Blade icons and the symbols for the Water Glyph, Fire Glyph and Sound Glyph (track) - all of which were eventually updated or discarded before the retail versions. The symbols themselves cannot be activated or the menu reliably stopped on them.
- Some hints are broken or incorrect in the European release.
- Sentry eyes are colored differently in the earlier U.S release, where they appear as a white or pale blue sclera with a yellow iris and red pupil. This is changed to yellow sclera and iris with dark blood vessel effects and black pupil in the European release and retail version.[SR2]
For further background information on the development of the Air Forge area itself, see Air Forge (SR2)#Background
- several other demo discs feature non-interactive trailers entirely created from footage of the Air Forge demo. These demos include several "kiosk demos" ("demo disc 2.2" or "kiosk disc 2.2") apparently intended for store or show units and Playstation Underground 5.1 (released late 2001). Many of the Soul Reaver 2 prerelease screenshots also originate in the Air Forge demo. Some trailers (such as the German special edition of Soul Reaver 2) appear to use the Air Forge demo as the basis but in fact use a build that is older - originating in February and March 2001 respectively which shows even earlier development of the area.
- The Air Forge Demo at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- Air Forge (SR2)
- The Air Forge (chapter)
- Blue heart
- Debug menus
- Ring menu
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 1.32 1.33 1.34 1.35 1.36 1.37 1.38 1.39 1.40 1.41 1.42 1.43 1.44 1.45 1.46 1.47 Soul Reaver 2 Air Forge demo (US version)
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 2.36 2.37 2.38 2.39 2.40 2.41 2.42 2.43 2.44 2.45 Soul Reaver 2 Air Forge demo (European version)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 The Air Forge Demo at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Library - Playstation 2 at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 The Debug Menu at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Deleted Elemental Reavers at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 The Pillar Glyphs at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 The Full Ring Menu at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)