I’ve never been the best gamer when it comes to the Castlevania series. I’m absolutely not opposed to it though. In fact, I think it’s an awesome series. Super Castlevania IV is one of the games I most recommend downloading from the Virtual Console if you don’t already own it for the SNES. That being said, I wasn’t all that aware of a new Castlevania game, and specifically, I didn’t really care much when I heard it would break from conventions in about every way possible. What did get me more interested was watching a few reviews. So what is the verdict on Castlevania: Lords of Shadow? Well, this is the verdict:
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is pretty danged good. No need to dance around something as simple as that. It’s not without faults, oh no, but it’s also not without a ton of merit. Has Castlevania managed to produce a quality 3D platformer yet? Now it has, at least as quality as any you can expect. As far as controls are concerned, Lords of Shadow plays well. Not perfect, but very good nonetheless. Alright, get used to that qualifier there because most of what I’ll be telling you will be a “yes, but” statement. Whipping enemies feels good and responsive and some fun situations can come about from the various encounters you’ll have with said enemies. This new Belmont knows his stuff in terms of combat.
He doesn’t, however, seem to know the platforming as well as we’d like him to. The camera will continually get in the way between you and your enjoyment of the title, offering amazing views that in no way assist you in performing complicated jumps. You’ll frequently even find yourself forced into the terrifying “Leaps of Faith” that infect otherwise decent platformers, moments where you need to jump from one platform to another but have no clue what you’re aloud to jump to due to the graphics being too pretty or the camera ignoring the need to show you. Expect cheap deaths and lots of them.
Also expect to do some searching on your own. The game, while gorgeous, doesn’t like giving any help regarding where to go next and what to do. Plenty of times you’ll fight a swarm of enemies, only to then wander around aimlessly completely unaware of your next objective. A map system would have helped, but you get nothing of the sort. At least the game looks nice though.
The game also sounds nice, too. Patrick Stewart, Mr. Classy himself, plays one of the lead roles, making at least that one role sound the best anyone could possibly make it sound. Maybe I just love Patrick Stewart, but his inclusion bumps Lords of Shadow up a few points. The rest of the voice work is well done, though the dialogue seems to be the usual Castlevania schlock with some really lame lines here and there. Mostly, it functions enough to get you through the story and that should be enough.
Lords of Shadow decides to forgo the Castlevania in its name almost entirely, leaving you with something closer to God of War or Uncharted or even Prince of Persia or Shadow of the Colossus at times, but this isn’t a bad thing. Longtime fans may lament the change in style, but this isn’t a bad game. Quite the contrary, Lords of Shadow is already on my Christmas wishlist as a game I really want to spend some quality time with. And it just might be worth it seeing as how Konami has already mentioned working on the sequel. Lords of Shadow gets my full approval at the moment, so give it a rent and check it out.
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