Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow REVIEW

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.

This is one game, that I was anticipating the release of, being a fan of the old Castlevania games (Though I still haven't got around to playing the DS games...damn...), though when I saw the trailer at first, I thought "This looks just like Dante's Inferno...urgh..."
True as it is, it has been likened to Dante's Inferno, God of War, Shadow of the Colossus...you get the picture.
I think the difference here, is that unlike Dante's Inferno and God of War, you have to be partly strategic with how you play (That is...until you get the holy water upgrades), once you're in the air, you are highly susceptible to being punched straight back out of it.
To cut things short, you won't get anywhere by simply mashing in this game as enemies can still hit you and retaliate in the middle of an attack.

Now, your magic gauges.
Your magic gauges deplete very rapidly in comparison to what I found with Dante's Inferno, which means you have to use them wisely, you also don't start off the game with a full gauge (You have to continually upgrade), so this is also something that adds an element of a challenge.
They're something you can't really ignore either; Light is your friend here as the fountains that regenerate your health are very very seldom. So your light gauge is needed to keep your stamina in check throughout the levels.
The Shadow gauge, it increases your attack damage and, for some reason, I never really felt it. I don't know if this was just that I was using it at the wrong times, or if it really isn't that brilliant (Unless you are combining it with daggers to give the almighty GTFO to Lycans).

Scrolls. On your journey throughout the game, you will come across various knights who have been stabbed, maimed, shot with arrows etc. Some of them carry scrolls. These could either be a big help or just a shrug to your shoulders, depending on the level. But without collecting them, useless or not, you're not getting that 110% completion.
The good part, is that they don't always do the work for you, especially where puzzles are concerned. They give you hints, a few tips, but you're on your own for figuring everything else out.

Another good point here, is that I found that there was a lot to do with the game. You'd finish a level and think "Oh..." because you would only see 16% completion. After a lot of level ends, you get challenges, that make you go back through the level. The reward? A few extra points to spend on combos and a higher completion. But is it really worth it?
If you're adamant on getting that 110% complete rate or if you missed a few gems or upgrades, then it is, otherwise, probably not. There are also levels that have pieces that can only be unlocked once you've upgraded your weapons 6 or so levels later. I thought it was a bit of a downside, as some of the levels aren't exactly short either.

Now have some cons.
A few levels in, you will come across these beings called "Titans". While they're made out to be undually strong, they're easy and very repetitive. You kill them both in the same manner and they have similar tactics, of stay the hell away until they do something that prompts you to react.
Personally, I expected them to be much harder, though the bosses at later chapters do become a pain in the ass (aside the ever underwhelming Brauner.)

Another con is the camera panning. It quite simply...doesn't.  It's a fixed camera, so at points, you will be fighting things and won't even be able to see Gabriel moving. While you do get used to it, it doesn't make it any lesser a pain when you're stuck off the screen somewhere with a knight and skeletons trying to kill you and all you can see is a few flails of Gabriel's weapon.

The music. The great thing about Castlevania games, has always been the music. Now in this game, it felt very much like I was travelling through some Lord of the Rings themed world. You can argue that it fits the theme for the first few chapters, and I'll agree, it does. But there was very little in the soundtrack of this game that stood out and made me go "Wow..." 
It was quite offset by the stunning graphics and interesting demons, but nonetheless, it is missing that important element that every Castlevania game has.

And for the final point, it really doesn't bring anything new to the table as far as this type of game goes. From God of War, Dante's Inferno, Shadow of the Colossus, even Bayonetta, we've seen it all by now.
The game only starts to feel like Castlevania (with all of the ghouls, vampires and ghosts) at about four chapters in. But, I'll leave that opinion for others to decide.

While I personally enjoyed it, and the ending does hint at a sequel and overall, stunning graphics, decent gameplay, I'd go through it again personally just to get that 110% completion but until then...
I think I'm going to play those DS games now for the more familiar experience that I know of Castlevania.


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