Castlevania Lords of Shadow
In this world of remakes and reboots,
Castlevania Lords of Shadows is the latest video game to receive a
21st century next-gen console makeover and not only does it pay homage
to the original title but it actually gives something back to the
franchise. Even though much of this is smoke and mirrors because this
game gives the illusion of freedom and more frustratingly invisible
walls, at its core, the gameplay is quite competent in this third person
action adventure that has parallels to games such as God of War and
Shadow of the Colossus.
In the game, you play Gabriel Belmont (voiced
by Robert Carlyle), a member of the brotherhood of light who are
attempting to protect the world from an onslaught of dark forces.
Although the citizens of the world believe that God has forsaken them, a
hero has emerged who will fight for not only himself but the world.
Gabriel must also retrieve the god mask which according to legend, will
bring his wife back from the dead and into the world of living. It may
be a cliché... save the world and save the girl but it actually works in
this Gothic world of good versus evil.
As with games such as God of War, you need
to explore the game but this is where the illusion of freedom comes into
play as it's always pushing you in one direction. Thankfully the
gameplay is strong and this is where combat comes into play. Combat
supports both fast and slow attacks which are more powerful. The main
weapon in the game is a crucifix that is in actual fact a weapon of
great power in both magic and melee. Along your quests, you also need to
find magic and health upgrades in order to progress and of course the
cool dark crystal which allows you to summon this rather "hot" looking
demon. Enemies are fun and always changing from werewolves to titans and
Apart from combat, there are several
puzzles that you must complete and some of these can be quite difficult
as is the combat in the game. For newcomers to this series, you may find
yourself starting the game over and over again until you learn the ropes
which generally takes around 1 to 2 hours. Considering that there is
almost 20 hours of gameplay here, this is quite a long game and great
value to money. Rage control does play a part but the majestic cinemas
and story helps push you along.
There are several upgrades available to
your character but many of these will not be used that does open the
story for another play. Light and dark magic must be used in conjunction
for not only combat but also the spells. Orbs are dropped by enemies
that builds up the meter for this dark and light magic and these magics
really add something to the gameplay in terms of entertainment and
challenge. Light magic heals Gabriel and Dark magic inflicts more damage
to your victims. It's a careful balancing game which needs to be
monitored at all times.
Some of the power-ups include boots of
speed and wings to not only help you get to strange places but are key
elements of some puzzles. Frustrating yes... but damn fun to use. The
game requires you to climb quite a bit as well and sometimes you don't
know what to do and this becomes a tricky part of the game, especially
when you climb to death defying heights.
In terms of controls, it is well mapped on
the 360 controller and the AI is quite unpredictable at times that does
require different strategies for the player. Thankfully the game
supports dynamic difficulty which allows you to change the difficulty as
you play and I had to use this near the end of the game but that's
between you and me. One issue with the controls is that the same button
is used for block and roll which does make things a little confusing at
the start. Combinations are relatively easy to pull off as does have
some parallels to that awesome game, Bayonetta.
Graphically, Castlevania is one good
looking game on the XBox 360 with some beautifully created environments
and amazing animation. The enemies are well animated and the bosses look
quite spectacular that when used with the cinematics and cinematography,
it creates a game of epic proportions. One issue with the cinematics is
that sometimes quick time events are thrown into the mix and sometimes
you don't know if it's the cinema your looking at or the in-game itself.
Tricky! It's also good that the developers made good use of the camera
system as well. The musical score is quite majestic and thanks to Sir
Patrick Stewart who does the voice over, this game has a very
professional feel from the gameplay to graphics and the sound.
In the end, Castlevania Lords of Shadow may
not be your original Castlevania game which your "granddad" played but
if you're a fan of games such as God of War or Bayonetta, than this game
will be as equally as enjoyable. A great story, sturdy gameplay, the
only problem with the game is the limited freedom and considering how
beautiful the gaming environments are, this is a shame. Nonetheless,
what a game people... what a game!