Published on May 8th, 2014 | by Andy Bell0
Review: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
He has many names, The prince of darkness, the dragon or Dracula the immortal has lived for thousands of years, walking among us, hiding in the darkest corners, haunting our dreams, sucking our necks and drinking our blood, but more importantly if he was real .. Owed millions in royalty payments!
We have been fascinated by Dracula for hundreds of years, telling his legends by folklore, books and movies, but have more recently decided to make computer and console games recounting what it might be like to see through his eyes, become him or kill him and Castlevania has been holding that mantle for over two decades.
While not a self-confessed Castlevania fan, I was amazed to look back over the history of the franchise and see how that game has developed throughout the ages and across multiple platforms. Prior to Lords of Shadow 2 the last Castlevania game that I recall playing was 2D side scrolling and it was all blocky! I am grateful to say that Castlevania has come a long way since I last played it but more importantly, it does not rely on you playing the last couple of games to catch up what is going on in Lords of Shadow 2.
The game starts with you “Dracula” all super-powered up, fronting the defense of your castle and grounds against a massive attacking army. At this point you get the cliché signs that something dramatic is about to happen, like losing all your ability’s and skills… As you’ve had the carrot dangled to speak!
As predicted, you win and take a nap in your cosy coffin, only to be rudely awakened many years later in present day by a sorcerer in a business suit. At this point it would be customary to lay out the plot loosely to give you a general idea what to expect, except that I couldn’t really figure out what was going on!
The main journey is to gain back your lost powers and overcome the enemy but the plot line is interlaid with so many sub-plots that I found it hard to concentrate on what I should be doing and more importantly where I was. This has a lot to do with Dracula’s state of mind, as while set in present day, Dracula still has a major hang up with the past. Quite often while walking through the corridors of a science lab or other present day environments you will suddenly find yourself back in the Gothic rooms of Dracula’s castle only to turn around and be back in the lab again, all the while your dead linage telling you where to go and blood puddles on the floor telling you “not to leave” and generating enemies! …. (Random) Although the story is somewhat confusing, the game is generally quite linear so only on a couple of occasions did I get a bit lost! Generally no matter what plot lines are happening or unfolding head forwards and things work out.
The combat is sound with three weapons to choose from, your have your standard trustworthy whip, a sword and your chaos or “flame hands”! They all have different properties, the whip is great to take down standard enemies and large groups, the sword regenerates your health with each hit landed and the “flame hands” wears down and usually eliminates the enemies’ shields. For the two special weapons there is a limited power meter so overuse is out the question but clever use of the sword will make dying in battle almost impossible. Coupled with these weapons is a vast array of combos, some are unlocked as of start but most will have to be brought with experience points earned throughout the game and with so many on offer, unlocking all on first play though is tricky.
Further collectibles are on offer that will increase your health or power meters so you can use your special weapons for longer.
While exploring and looking for these hidden collectibles you will find it hard not to be impressed with the truly spectacular backdrop, the castle looks great and the present day has great atmospheric feel with great attention to detail. Sadly the backdrop and scenery is the only thing in Castlevania that you will be truly amazed about, the game offers 15-20 hours of gameplay but playing the game through I found challenging and not because of the difficulty.
The game seemed to lack balance, playing through there was too much down time, running around for what felt like hours then running into a battle which was then over far too quick.
The game features annoying stealth sections where your weapons are disabled and you must sneak pass the enemy, get found out and you have to stand there and take punishment until you die, so you can restart the section again.
Other sections are brutally frustrating and fighting boss battles are sometimes unclear on how to land a hit, let alone win.
Overall Castlevania offers a mixed bag, great visual environments and a well-played out story but you might find the wait and the frustration of playing the game a bit too tedious.
Summary: Good to look at but might find yourself wanting more that the game delivers.