Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow details
|Formats:||15 PS3, Xbox 360|
|Rental release:||08 Oct 2010|
Most helpful review
"You Were Tricked!" Castlevania: Lords of Shadow ReviewBy Izunin (12 reviews) from London , 30 Oct 2010
[Highly rated reviewer]Developed by both MercurySteam and Kojima Productions, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (LoS) is a step in a very different direction for the franchise. While it may mean something new for Castlevania, it is actually a familiar turn for reboots. Finally dropping the 2D Action-adventure/RPG hybrid 'Metroidvania' genre, LoS is a basic 3D Action-adventure with only a few surprises.
Gabriel Belmont is part of an elite Brotherhood of Light, whose purpose is to protect everyone from monsters such as vampires, werewolfs--you name it, whose purpose is to torment all that is good and holy. Gabriel failed to protect his wife, and has been sent to seek out her soul for info about the world's salvation. It is a predictable yet interesting plot. LoS' story is told mostly through cutscenes. As the plot unfolds, Zobek, voiced by Sir Patrick Stewart, is a somewhat omniscient supporting character. He poetically explains at every loading screen what has and what will happen. This is something to get used to, but it does keep the story in focus.
Grabiel, as with all other major characters, is very well-presented. He is actually voiced by Robert Carlyle; thus, I get reminded of The Full Monty which with no doubt kills the atmosphere. Facial animation is also well-done; so coupled with professional voice-acting, LoS will not bore you during the unplayable parts, I assure you.
While utilizing a Gothic based art design similar to Super Castlevania IV's, LoS also incorporates a setting which is mostly very vibrant. Levels are not only brilliant and diverse in design, but they are superimposed with varying beautiful landscapes. Whether it is a dark cave, or a snowy mountain, the appropriate atmospheric details are in place. Environments are all glued together with technically, and artistically, impressive graphics. With impressive environments on the hand, and awesome creatures on the other, LoS is a treat for your eyes.
Another detachment from recent 'Metroidvania' titles of the same series is that the soundtrack is mostly Epic Orchestra. Óscar Araujo delivers a change from the usual catchy chip-tune/metal style; this was necessary due to LoS' matured presentation.
LoS' core gameplay is similar to that of God of War's (GoW). Not similar like Coke and Pepsi, similar like Lemonade and Sparkling Water... respectively. There's a button for direct attacks, one for area attacks, and a bunch of sequences of combinations and strings for all sorts of funky combos. You'll want to be launching smaller enemies in the air, and whipping larger enemies on the ground. There's this very large pause whenever an attack connects, which is commonly referred to as 'slowdown during hit-stun'. Ever wondered why Devil May Cry doesn't 'feel' like Ninja Gaiden?
Preferably, you'll be taking advance of the blocking/parrying mechanic. What isn't typical of this action game is the usefulness of the dodge ability; you know when you dash in other games, and that saves you from a meteor crashing down on you? That doesn't happen in LoS, dodging means moving out of the way, not going through attacks.
Anyway, you've also got various projectiles among other compelling techniques that are unlocked throughout the game. LoS continuously adds something new to your gameplay as you progress, even when you think there's no way to become more powerful.
There are QTEs all over the place in LoS, as you'd expect. Like in GoW, everything from opening a door to impaling a giant monster with a dagger is all done via prompted button presses. Earlier I compared LoS to GoW like Lemonade to Sparkling Water; well, LoS includes all different sorts of QTEs. The most frequent kind allows any button to be pressed, and is presented similar to the Ring System from Lost Odyssey. Similarities don't end there, LoS may have a unique command list and unique enemy patterns, and they're all familiar.
This game is special in the way that it has taken inspiration from so many different 6th Generation action games: Some boss battles require Gabriel to grab onto a huge 'Titan', and attack its weak spots, like Shadow of the Colossus (SotC). This is where LoS outright copies another game's ingredient, and uses it to add an epic taste to itself. Unlike SotC, there are checkpoints in the middle of these battles, mostly because they're much longer and scripted.
A unique mechanic in LoS worth noting is how Neutral Elemental Orbs work. There's this interesting healing system where attacking enemies when using Light Magic will replenish health. Light Magic, by the way, includes all sorts of devastating attacks. Anyhow, Light Magic requires a meter which is filled by these Orbs. They mostly appear when an enemy is killed, but only when Light Magic isn't active.
The Orbs can be used to replenish either the meter for Light Magic, or Shadow Magic; the latter is similar to former in that powerful attacks can be used when its active, but generally it increases attack power. Orbs are dynamically rewarded when a string of attacks are used without Gabriel getting hit, which allows them to drop after each attack. It sounds complicated, and it is. This means that LoS' combat has a different-enough approach GoW. Not to mention it's better balanced, where enemies aren't damage-sponges (thankfully).
Unlike Devil May Cry 4, there is no room for experimenting with the command list to find new combos; also, every enemy has a small number of choices, so learning everything's patterns would happen in a single playthrough. Unfortunately, this means that LoS' combat isn't going to keep you interested. This would've immediately made LoS just a 'good' action game...
Although LoS' gameplay is focused on combat, levels all have a healthy variety of platforming and intelligent puzzles. Most of the puzzles are derivative or simple, but some are brain-hurting. Gladly, any intimidating puzzles can have their solutions revealed in exchange of the currency used for unlocking the command list.
As for replay value, there's quite a bit. LoS is already twelve chapters long, possibly taking up to twenty hours for a casual playthrough, it having collectables hidden all over, gives it the life of a typical role-playing game. This game has a map-looking level selector, where you're given information about what you've collected in each one. Some collectables require an optional return to a level after obtaining abilities from a later one.
Apart from these hidden upgrades, there are challenges to complete for every level, like: kill x-number of werewolves or beat the boss without healing. These Trials vary in style and difficulty throughout, which is a pleasant addition to the great value LoS already has without it.
Alas, LoS' doesn't balance out another shortcoming: its fluctuating frame rate present. The type of core gameplay present in this game should have a constant 60fps, maybe 30fps. Most of the difficulty comes down to reacting to enemy patterns, and responded in a short window of time, which is why the frame rate is so baffling when it reaches below 20fps. The PlayStation 3 version runs slightly better, but it isn't enough better to spoil the fun for me.
LoS' difficulty is fair and challenging to a certain extent, and there's the option to reduce the difficulty at any point in the game. The hardest option is unlockable but allows you to keep all upgrades; only the first playthrough will be challenging. What is most likely to frustrate players is getting lost and/or getting stuck. LoS likes to help players out at most points, but it feels like it forgets to give you a hint at some of the strangest parts.
Considering LoS' derivative systems, its large length isn't welcomed. Since its presentation is the best thing this game can offer, I would use a gameplay-skipping feature. This isn't to say everyone will pick this game up and get bored, but if you're adept at the genre, I'd suggest you only look into LoS if you care about cinematics.
Despite almost everything being derivative, and the combat being fairly simple, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow improves on a few ideas and has enough to deliver a complete package. It might give a sense of 'I've done this before', but only if you're educated on the genre. You want another slice? I'd recommend it; it sets a tasty example for just about everything from the previous generation. The thing this game does best is completely detach itself from those blasted self-replicating 'Metroidvania' games, which by the way, is incredibly ironic.
Classification: Gem of the Genre (4/5)
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Has its plus sides but this bored me to (un)death.By IW1911 (13 reviews) from UK , 15 Mar 2013This game is less an original format and more of a compilation of all the best parts of various games in this genre. Only problem is you can tell, and it wasn't enough to make me want to keep playing. It is a good game, with an amazing soundtrack and some of my favorite combos from other games feature in the long list of moves. But that's the thing, I just cannot feel comfortable with the fact it is very unoriginal. I can see why people like it but I just don't see what's so great about it. Worth a rent if you are a fan of GOW and DMC but otherwise, rent GOW or DMC.
Insanely Under-RatedBy NavB (17 reviews) , 14 Mar 2013Only qualm I have with this is the occasional camera angle problem, but this is quickly brushed aside with the fluid gameplay and upgrade system which helps keep the game alive and you wanting more! Games these days are rarely as long as this and with DLC, expansion packs and the rest, you aren't going to get a better rental for what it is. I am eagerly awaiting the sequel which is currently in production Cannot wait!
End Of Dayszzzzzzzzzz......By ColinC (5 reviews) , 05 Sep 2012Rented this as it was recommended by fellow gamers who reckoned it was as good as God Of War 3. Yeah right!!
Dont get me wrong, it's a good enough hack/slash/adventure romp and some of the graphics are amazing, but where it falls down is the story and the little complexities of gameplay.
I for one like my hackers to be nice and simple with lots of action, like the aforementioned GOW3 and Dante's Inferno, with the odd MANAGEABLE puzzle thrown in for good measure. Fans of the original Castlevania's will either love it or hate it, but there are some mentions in there to appease them.
Overall, a game for the more refined hack n slasher who enjoys hard puzzles and even harder button combos.
Apart from Patrick Stewart phoning it in, this game is ace.By simlew86 (3 reviews) , 22 Aug 2012So it's pretty obvious this isn't a Castlevania game...but then, if the game was the old style Metroid-vania side scroller, it would be more likely a downloadable release rather than a big budget Triple-A title.
I'm not familiar with Mercury Steam as a developer, so I wasn't expecting much from their reboot of the much loved Castlevania franchise. It looked like yet another God of War clone with button mashing, basic platforming and the odd puzzle thrown in, and while these elements are included, the game surprised me at just how good it implements such tried and tested formulae.
The combat is brilliant and much more than just button bashing. Having two separate magic meters varies up the combat constantly, bringing tactics and a certain degree of skill to proceedings. The puzzles are some of the best in recent memory and visually, the game is just stunning.
It's a massive game as well, you're playing for a good 15 hours before you even reach the castle, and even then that's only about half way through.
Put simply, this game is awesome. Definitely worth a play.
A stunning gameBy a customer , 13 Aug 2012I gave this game a chance after owning god of war 3 and enjoying that game and thought that this wasn't as good but nevertheless still a brilliant game to play. Fantastic story which was challenging but not hard enough to throw a controller out the window. Would recommend.