Published on February 27th, 2014 | by the leet0
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Review
The Castlevania series defined video games throughout generations, they evolved the standard side scrolling to a branched out universe. Multiple paths, difficult enemies, gothic setting and a kicking soundtrack are what Castlevania is defined as from the 8-bit generation to today.
After a failed first 3D attempt, developers MercurySteam have brought us the Lords of Shadow trilogy of games, thrusting this highly acclaimed series into current times. The first game had a fixed camera, limited routes, but it also had tight exciting combat and excellent graphics and an intriguing story. After its success, MercurySteam and Konami have brought us Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, a game where players can wield the powers and abilities of iconic vampire Dracula. It is a straight sequel to Lords of Shadow following on from it narrative wise and improves on its predecessor in some areas but falls flat on its face in others.
After the event of Lords of Shadow (no spoilers), protagonist Gabriel Belmont now known as Dracul (or Dracula) revitalises himself after centuries worth of sleep to find his castle has been used as a foundation for the modern day city. A mysterious well-dressed man approaches Dracul and warns him of Satan’s imminent return thanks to the actions of his demons whilst Dracul has been in slumber. Zobek promises to grant Dracul’s wish of ending his immortality in exchange to help rid the world of Satan and his forces of which Dracul accepts. Even though I felt the story was a good one, the characters were bland and lifeless. Dracula isn’t the tough and fearsome lord of darkness everyone knows him as although much of the game requires the player to regain his abilities to become powerful. The story is driven by some pretty slick acting however and the cut scenes are nicely designed and executed.
The gameplay is where the frustrations begin. Gone now is the linear level design to make way for an open world approach. The entire world around Belmont opens up as he progresses through the game and of course where there is exploration, there is collectables to find. The combat has a heavy God of War feel to it but not nearly as deep. Dracula has his trusty whip and 2 other weapons at his disposal which can be changed to on the fly to continue combos.
The Void Sword is Dracula’s tool of survival when in the heat of combat, successful hits gain him health and the moves look stylish too. The Chaos Claws are Dracula’s heavy weapon; it is slower but deals massive damage and can break through shielded and armoured enemies. Enemies that are about to die flash yellow giving Dracul an opportunity to deliver his only finishing move which is a feeble looking bite to the neck. The frustrations begin with the combat, enemies have two modes, ring around you and rush you and it is not hard to see what comes next. Success in combat boils down to good management of Dracul’s arsenal. Boss fights offer variety to the standard combat but sometimes these get bogged down due to the fact that you can’t lock onto enemies so it’s easy to lose sight of them causing you to be a sitting duck. The exploration leaves a lot to be desired too, ledges that can be hung onto are highlighted by a swarm of bats, now bats are black so you can tell how difficult it is to see them. And then there’s the pointless stealth sections which will make you want to throw your pad in anger.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 excels in its looks. Environments are nicely detailed and the open world parts are fairly large. Belmont and his long hair and long red coat and piercing red eyes make him a cool looking protagonist who fights some pretty intimidating looking enemies although there is little variety of them. With Lords of Shadow 2 being set in modern times, the architecture of his castle mixes well with the streets of the city and sometimes the game provides some lush viewpoints of the world and as I mentioned before, the cut scenes are brilliantly designed making them a joy to watch.
MercurySteam have improved Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 in some ways but failed to improve in others. Sporting some fast paced but frustrating combat mechanics, impressive upgrading system, beautiful graphics may be enough to keep fans cheering but it’s not easy to ignore the bland characters, awfully marked out routes and the worst stealth mechanics I’ve seen in a while. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 feels like a missed opportunity to have a classic on our hands, but it’s nothing more than a standard action game.
Summary: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 feels like a missed opportunity to have a classic on our hands, but it’s nothing more than a standard action game.