|System: Xbox 360, PS3*|
|Release: February 25, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Nudity|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow had its issues. It was basically a God of War clone with broken platforming that was totally sold on its interesting take on the Castlevania plot and outstanding performances of Patrick Stewart and Robert Carlyle as voice actors. It wasn’t bad, it was just flawed, and it was interesting enough to make me want to play the sequel. While I genuinely cared about Gabriel Belmont’s quest to revive his lost love in Lords of Shadow 1, I find it hard to care about anything in Lords of Shadow 2. The gameplay has gotten worse and this time the story has suffered along with it. You have to suffer through quite a slog to get to the end of this game, and while the payoff is OK, it’s not enough to warrant all the effort spent to get there.
(Note: this review will contain heavy spoilers for Lords of Shadow 1, so if you still haven’t played and are planning to, you might want to look away now.)
Let’s start with the combat. Once again, it’s incredibly mashable. However, this time instead of ripping off God of War it rips off the new DMC: Devil May Cry. Gabriel Belmont, i.e. Dracula, has three weapons to choose from: the blood whip, the void sword and the claws of chaos. The blood whip, Drac’s basic weapon, Is a long range medium range weapon. The void sword is much weaker and shorter ranged but incredibly fast and has abilities that let Drac absorb HP. The claws of chaos are the slowest and shortest ranged but also most powerful. Drac can switch back and forth between these weapons at any time allowing for some impressive combos.
Or at least, that is what you’d think. Unfortunately, this system doesn’t work in practice. You see you level your weapons up individually, and you will likely favor one weapon over all others. As a result, you really won’t switch to any other weapon unless the game forces you to, like when you need to use the claws of chaos to break through enemy shields. Then again, even this is a rare occurrence. I used mostly the claws throughout the entire game and barely did anything other than mash attack buttons until my thumb hurt.
The game also has a habit of throwing these random stealth sections at you which just aren’t fun at all. Throughout the game, Drac will fight gods and monsters like it’s nothing. However, if he gets caught by one or two piss-ant mortal guards, holy crap it’s the end of the world! If stealth was an option in these sections, I could forgive them. However, it is not an option. It’s mandatory. The game actually takes away your ability to fight! So all those awesome supernatural weapons you have that are forged out of dark magic and your own blood? Forget them! Sneak around as a rat for a while to avoid being spotted by some dude in a robot suit.
Speaking of robots, why the heck are there robots in a Castlevania game? The enemy design in this game is horrible. These aren’t half robotic Frankensteins or creepy clockwork mannequins. They look like rejects from the Final Fantasy XIII enemy design department. There’s no personality to them. They just feel like the generic sci-fi trooper enemy we have fought in so many other games.
In fact, the whole game feels more generic than the last. Half of the game is spent wandering through modern day city streets and futuristic bunkers in order to fight against an evil organization trying to raise Satan. If that plot feels cheesy, it’s because it is. The first Lords of Shadow was about the fall of a man who tried to do the right thing. This Lords of Shadow is about being an errand boy for the villain from the first game.
You see, Drac’s old friend Zobek has returned, and he has a bone to pick with all these Satanic cults that are screwing up his mojo. He promises Drac that, if he helps him out, he will grant him a final death and release from his torturous immortality.
There are so many problems with this plot, it can make a Castlevania fan scream. First of all, did Drac forget that Zobek betrayed him in the first game? Heck, Zobek is basically the reason why he was cursed into a life of immortality in the first place! Second of all, if all Dracula wants is a final death, why am I fighting against all of these enemies who are more than happy to shoot me in the face right now? Dracula actively goes through a long journey to revive his powers, just so that he can die again? Bullshit! I don’t believe this motivation for a second, and it clashes headfirst with the gameplay. Oh, and don’t give me that “Dracula won’t permanently die from enemy attacks” crap. I say again, he fights the forces of heaven and hell in this game. I’m sure ONE of them knows the key to ending Drac’s life permanently!