Review: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Right off the bat, I have never played a Castlevania game previous to this. I’ll give you all a minute to rage and bitch about that. Done? Okay, so it’s not like I chose not to. I’ve just never really had an opportunity to play any of them. And I’m glad I haven’t because it means that I will have no prior basis for comparison to this, a reboot of the series in its entirety.
- Worth The Time?It’s definitely worth a play through, yes.
- Things LovedGood platforming sections, beautiful levels and design elements, badass main character, good battle sequences and set pieces, decent plot twists now and then, epic feel to it all.
- Things HatedClumsy controls, repetitive, static camera, cliché story elements at times, no mini map.
- RecommendationIf you’re a fan of games that take inspiration from other games and are not too bothered by that constant feeling that you’re going the wrong way through a linear path, then buy this game. If you enjoy games about mythology and kicking its ass, then buy this game. If you’re easily bored or don’t enjoy repetitive game mechanics, stay far, far away and keep a ten foot pole to not touch it with.
- Name: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
- Genre: Third Person Action Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
- Developer: MercurySteam, Kojima Productions
- Publisher: Konami
- Price: R265 (Take 2)
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
You are Gabriel Belmont, a member of the Brotherhood of Light. You have awesome hair, an awesome voice and an awesome red coat thing. You also have a “Combat Cross” with a whip attached to it. Yes, you’re that awesome.
The game starts off with tasking you to find, well actually, it just doesn’t tell you anything, really. All you know is that you start off in this random rainy area, looking badass, and there are werewolves for you to kill. We know these levels as the prologue. Tutorials cometh! It is soon revealed that you are attempting to find and destroy the three Lords of Shadow in order to vanquish all evil. No, actually you’re just trying to bring your dead wife back. Oh-noes, spoilers! Not really. It’s revealed pretty much instantly in the story, that your wife was killed but her spirit remains in limbo, which so totally allows her to guide you along your path as the story progresses. Enough with the story, for now, though. Let’s get into the really fun stuff!
This game would be classified a third person action adventure, for all intents and purposes, and it certainly feels that way. But let’s pretend for a second that God of War were to get really drunk one night after killing some titans and get together with Shadow of the Colossus, tired of all of those giants and looking for some rest and relaxation, and Devil May Cry, now completely over the demon-son Dante and his rival Nero. Let’s say the three of them had an orgy and one of them (obviously God of War since Kratos is a bitch) got pregnant with some crazy amalgamation of the three. Let’s say Dante’s Inferno added in a few chromosomes for effect. Now while all of that was happening, the universe imploded with awesomeness and all of them died, but not before some random passer-by saw the infant and tried to copy its DNA to make an imperfect clone of it.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is that imperfect clone.
It is not something you haven’t seen before, it is not ground-breakingly different either. But what it does boast is the inspiration of some truly great games. God of War’s epic feel and set pieces and badass lead character, are there. Shadow of the Colossus’ larger than life boss battles and badass lead character, are there. Devil May Cry’s sexy combos and badass lead character, are there. This guy just has better hair, and a Combat Cross.
The combat itself is good, if you have the patience. In fact, this entire game should have the slogan “… if you have the patience.” Everything starts off slow. At first, you have a basic heavy and light combo and that’s about it, but as the story goes along, you will unlock more combos as well as various other relics and items that power up your basic combos and allow you to pull off some truly epic moves, mid battle. Specifically, early on when you unlock the Light and Dark crystals that allow you to go into Light and Dark mode respectively (what else did you think it would be called?), either healing you when you land an attack, or doing extra damage. In most battles, good use of all of the various relics and items at your disposal not only makes you look hardcore, but also has an extreme bearing on whether or not you survive.
Some battles are truly amazing with set pieces that leave you in awe, especially if you’ve never played either God of War or the Shadow of the Colossus games because you so obviously have never owned a Playstation of any kind, much like myself. The word epic comes to mind when describing some of these battles. Sure it’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but since when has more of the same kind of epic been a bad thing?
Did someone say platforming? No? Well this game sure has a lot of it. In fact, there are entire stages that entail doing nothing but platforming, with the odd little skirmish to keep people attentive. This would be fine and well, but for two problems. Chuck Norris is a sissy, and Leonidus is dead. But apart from that, there’s also the really dodgy and clumsy control system, and the ever so incredible camera, or the lack thereof. More on that later.
The control system itself is incredibly effective during combat, sometimes making things seem quite effortless in that respect. You get the impression that real time was taken on the combat system with all of its combos and powers. The same cannot be said of the platforming sequences where often for seemingly no valid reason, you will fall to your death instead of making that jump across some chasm or even just a simple tightrope walk along some webbing. Yes you walk along webbing in this game. I know, right? Spiderman up in this.
To add to the clumsy controls is the ridiculously conformist and frankly retarded decision to remove any sort of roaming camera and keep things otherwise static with fixed camera points as you progress through levels. This worked well in games like Devil May Cry, God of War and Dante’s Inferno, but here it’s just bad. Especially when the game offers you no form of mini map and at times puts you in a maze of a map that tasks you with exploring various levels that cascade into each other without really telling you where to go next.
Let it be known, you will spend a vast portion of this game, hopelessy lost.
And that’s not the only thing that will get repetitive. The game has lots to offer “if you have the patience” but more likely, you’ll get bored initially with doing the same things over and over again, and while the extra powerups, combos and plot twists will manage to keep you somewhat hooked, you’ll pretty much always be doing the same things. That’s not unusual of a third person action adventure game, mind you, but it is impossible to not notice especially here. Stick with it, give it time. It will grow on you like moss on a rock.
The game itself is beautiful, as can be seen by the screenshots. It is artistically gorgeous wherever you look and really pushes the hardware to its limits, some times showing in the frame rate. The two things that you will always enjoy while being badass in this game are the incredible graphical fidelity and the story.
The story itself makes this game a must-try. It starts off pretty slow, sure, but it will grow on you and it will captivate you and before the end, it will make you its bitch.
If you have the patience…