Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 – Review
Follow Genre: Hack 'n Slash, Adventure
Developer: MercurySteam
Publisher: Konami
Platform: PS3, 360

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 – Review

Site Score
7.5
Good: Story, Stunning environments
Bad: Stealth portions of the game, Certain characters are quite horribly animated
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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is the second installment of the reboot of the Castlevania franchise. The game will continue with the quest of Gabriel Belmont, the conqueror of the original lords of shadow but it seems slaying evil monsters has taken its toll on our hero.

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Story

You, Gabriel Belmont, the once legendary hero of the renowned Belmont lineage has fallen to the dark side after defeating the Lords of Shadow. Having gained the title of Prince of Darkness as well as a subtle name change to Dracula, striving for world domination is the logical step to take. Whilst having originally vowed to be a thorn in God’s side, your plans were foiled by your own son, which you turned into a vampire as well. Luckily being immortal has its benefits and thus you awake several hundred years later with your mortal enemy Zobek (Or Sean Connery as I have named him during my playthrough.) close by.

The world has become a dark place, even without the use of your evil powers. The world is preparing for Satan’s return, which might not be a good thing for you, seeing you have already defeated him once in the past. This time it would not be an easy task to do so again, seeing you have lost all your powers during your long slumber, which you wished would be an eternal one.

Zobek offers you the chance of that eternal slumber if you assist him in preventing Satan’s return and thus you happily oblige. Of course to do so, you will have to regain your original strength which isn’t won back easily. To regain your lost powers you will have to struggle through sights from the past as well as those of the present time.

Struggling with the memories of your past and your current path, it will be a rocky road to cross and perhaps the world isn’t such a dark place after all. Then again – perhaps it is.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 offers you a chance to be the bad guy that struggles with the past and is forced to save the world to achieve what he hungers for. Whilst the original story starts off with a bang the plot thins out a tad when the game progresses to once again build up toward the end.

As far as storylines go, you will not be disappointed with this original take on the ‘Dracula’ name.

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Graphics

Graphically Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 does its best to draw you inside a darkened world that is about to dimmed out completely with Satan’s second coming. The environments seem to be taken straight out of a typical vampire movie, with impressive castles and mountaintops alike.

Whilst some areas might feel copies of certain areas you have already visited. Unlike other games the areas in Castlevania will never feel empty. You will hardly ever encounter empty rooms or big open spaces without a certain amount of detail.

Characters in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 are another matter. Most of the bosses look fairly impressively done whilst other characters look fairly emotionless or graphically less impressive than others. Dracula himself will come across as one of the less detailed characters in the game and probably mostly because of the horrible way his hair is animated, in combination with his sometimes ‘woody’ face.

Halfway through the game a lot of enemies will keep getting recycled over and over, making it clear even though a lot of enemies are done in a fairly great way – you wish there were a tad more mystical monsters roaming the streets.

Sound

‘A cinematic soundtrack’ are the key words to describe the overall music Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 throws at you. The music seems to have been grabbed straight out of one of the latest Hollywood productions and will set the mood wherever you decide to go in the game.

The voice acting in the game is top notch. Having great actors such as Patrick Stewart, who lends his voice to cast the evil Zobek just adds up to the already great equation. Other actors that star in series such as Game of Thrones, also help in spicing up the game in combination with the already great soundtrack.

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Gameplay

The gameplay is where most of the smaller issues in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 lie, issues that might become more and more frustrating during the progression of the game.

Castlevania is a typical hack ‘n slash game with a fairly common progress system. The more you kill, the more points you will earn to unlock skills or new combo’s for one of the weapon types you possess. These unlockables are, as is common in games these days, divided in different skill trees making it easy to choose which weapon you wish to upgrade.

There are three weapons in the game, namely the blood whip, the void sword and the fire claws. The last two need to be activated with their respective energies, which in turn can be earned by not getting hit in combat for longer periods of time.

The overall flow is to be compared with titles such as the God of War franchise, Dante’s Inferno and other games in the genre. You will be thrown in situations where you will have to fight of large amount of monsters throughout the game. To break the tension you will have a decent amount of fairly simplistic puzzles to solve to offer a variety in the gameplay. These puzzles often consist out of finding certain switches or trying to reach new areas by finding certain pathways.

Blocking in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 does not feel like it’s up to par with other titles that have been releasing over the last few months or even years. Your dodge button is the same as your blocking button and thus you will move around instead of actually blocking and thus when moving you will still take damage.

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Mobility is very important in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, seeing you will have to do a lot of climbing and platforming throughout the game. You will often have to climb on buildings to reach new zones or upgrades, which are spread throughout the world of Castlevania. The game offers a ‘free roam’ system but more in the sense of being able to backtrack a lot, to find upgrades and other unlockables. Sadly, the map is quite unclear to be able to find certain locations you want to revisit.

One of the most annoying points concerning mobility are the ‘stealth’ portions of the game. Because you have lost your powers, certain enemies are too strong for you to handle and thus you will need to slip by them by either using your ‘rat’ form, distracting them with a swarm of bats or by possessing them.
The rat form, is a shape shifting skill which you can use in designated spots and with it you can reach another transformation point or you will have to do certain small puzzles to distract the guards or open a new area.
Your swarm of bats is often used in combination with the possession skill, which in essence isn’t a bad initiative but the developers implemented way too many scenes of these ‘stealthy’ approaches. Also the fact that by the end of the game, you will still have to avoid these characters will never give you the impression you’re actually regaining your powers and combine that with the fact you will defeat loads of gigantic monsters (bosses) throughout the game which are weaker than the ‘guards’ you have to avoid, according to the game.
After a while, these portions of the game get quite tedious.

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Conclusion

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 offers a great soundtrack and cinematic experience but on the other hand it also has a decent amount of flaws in its gameplay. These flaws prevent to make this already good game, a great game. In its genre, Castlevania is a good game and for fans of the genre or franchise the game will keep you occupied for a decent amount of hours.

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