Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2
Well for many people a long anticipated sequel from the team at Mercury Steam is here, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. I haven’t played a title like this in a long a time, with its classic style boss fights, puzzle-action gameplay and an almost birds eye view combat system. I also never played the first Castlevania: Lords of Shadow so this was definitely going to be a learning curve and a new experience.
Lords of Shadow 2, for me personally, was surprisingly great, not because I expected worse it’s just in the past I haven’t truly enjoyed these kinds of games. The most captivating element for me was the story, I was truly impressed with the way I was drawn in instantly with the story of who I was playing as and why I was playing, for me this is an important element for any game I play which I often don’t feel is executed properly, however Castlevania had me at the get-go. You play as Gabriel Belmont, now known as Dracula, as you fight and battle through both modern and medieval worlds in order to regain your powers to fight and hope to defeat Satan. The key to unlocking the abilities required to defeat Satan lies in your castle guarded by the Belmont clan and Alucard whom seek your demise.
The gameplay struck me as amazingly fluid and intuitive, as you battle multiple enemies its easy enough to dash and block attacks in order to put yourself in the best position to attack them with some devastating blows. The overhead camera, almost birds eye view, really gives the player the ability to survey the scene and get the jump on the attackers. The less powerful enemies are no match for the power of a vampire and biting into their necks and drinking their blood to give health and power to Dracula’s abilities was extremely brutal and really good fun. The boss fights were a great surprise on just how difficult and intense they were. I found the controller layout to really help the game mechanics show how fluid they were as every action seemed to make sense on where they were placed on the Xbox 360 controller. I really liked using the “Void Sword” of which every attack brought me closer and closer to full health to then dominate some more unworthy foes.
Visually I was very pleased everything looked great from the detail of the environment to the hair and fangs of Dracula himself. Being morbid as I am I paid close attention to the blood and gore and boy was I a happy weird-o, it looked amazing, with the odd slow-motion effect on your kills this game was looking and feeling brilliant. Something not often mentioned was how the cut-scenes looked. The art design team that formed the “painting” like style of the cuts-scenes should be promoted they had such an authentic feel about them and they were simply gorgeous to look at. The graphics were not only nice to look at but it added such a huge dimension to the game usually with great story you can sometimes have to sacrifice great graphics but not in this case. The visuals really helped the feel and style of Castlevania come through which just immerses you further and further into Dracula’s world.
I happen to be a huge stickler for sound, a well placed song can be the cherry-on-top for me and this had such beautiful music to fully engage you with what was happening at that moment throughout gameplay and or cut-scenes. It was honestly like a piece of art to look, play and listen to. The music aside this game was very well built, sound effects from blood drinking to the voices of the bosses were all fantastic, that crunchy, squelchy blood sound is one of my favourites, everything seemed to just add to one complete experience rather than feeling like a collection of separate pieces, I’m not sure if that signifies a great team effort at the developers HQ but either way I don’t care, this game played and sounded amazing.
In terms of key features there were many but at the top of my list I have to say the duality of the worlds being modern and medieval felt refreshing and new, being brought back and forward through made sense and wasn’t confusing and felt very linear. The amount of abilities you have as the player is really cool, the ability to glamour your enemies and even turn into some misty substance was amazing to see onscreen. Another key feature for me was the intense boss fights, with real time physics it allowed the fights to seem natural and unscripted allowing the player to make choices in how they want to take on their enemy. As obvious as this is but being able to play as Dracula is just too cool not to mention, the power you feel you have is quite amazing and merciless destruction is always fun. The amount of abilities as said before is amazing but what that allows you to do is develop strategies making the experience so much more enjoyable than simple button mashing.
I really want to get across to those die hard Xbox 360 fans and die hard Castlevania fans that this title was really, really cool. For someone who doesn’t often play this genre I was very impressed and it seemed to be the whole package from great atheistically pleasing cut-scenes to horrific battles and some crafty puzzles as well. Castlevania really brought it together to deliver something really quite unique and special. I would say go out and get this game because once you sit back and start to play you wont be able to stop its strong story and great graphics will keep you playing for hours, the developers have done an amazing job of making sure the player is aware of why you are doing what you’re doing and it makes the whole game feel great.