Video Game Review: “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2”

     When Castlevania: Lords of Shadow came out in 2010, it breathed new life into an old franchise. There was some mixed opinion, but in-general it was mostly seen as a success.

     It was a commercial success. It became the best-selling Castlevania game, and hence why Konami requested a sequel.

    Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is an action-adventure video-game developed by MercurySteam and published by Konami. As established, it is a sequel to the 2010 game, and is the 35th installment in the franchise as a whole. If there was one negative consensus about the last Lords of Shadow, it’d be the fact that it didn’t bring enough elements from the original subject-matter. You’ll be disappointed to find out that this installment doesn’t rectify that problem, however, this also looks very faintly like the title it precedes.

     If  you needed a recap of the previous title, Gabriel Belmont is Dracula. Looks like he has really been through the ringer, the Prince of Darkness oh-so fragile and scrawny. When his old acquaintance, Zobek returns to ask his assistance, he is unsure. This changes when Zobek promises him the one thing that he craves more than anything. Death.  Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 follows the weakened Dracula on a journey to prevail over his former enemy, Satan.

     There are some times when you pick up a controller, start a game, and immediately notice that something doesn’t feel right. This was one of those times. I started playing, and I immediately noticed how much slower everything felt, and I noticed how much of a downgrade that things seemed to have taken. Fortunately, a lot of this was rectified before the end. In-fact, after the opening-scene, everything becomes much more similar to the last in-terms of the controls and fighting mechanics. There are a lot of modifications brought into it that weren’t there before. For starters, while the previous operated with a linear level-system, this one opts for more of a free-roaming direction. It isn’t as spacious as most free-roamers, albeit, and it definitely still remains as linear.

     I don’t know what the popular consensus was, but I liked the level selection menu of the last installment and was disappointed to see them switch to this. It is difficult to move around, and a lot of the scenery looks exactly the same. There is also a lot of needless backtracking that I could have done without. They tweak the environment so you can easily get from one “level” to the other, but in the end, it makes me simply wonder why they didn’t keep the level-system.

     Fortunately, as I have said, it’s not very big, so these problems are easily forgotten. While they are aesthetically proficient, the visuals have definitely lost most, if not all of their beauty, and now, the dry, dreary, and desolate lands engulf, but without much inspiration or imagination given to any of it. Okay, so it might be a tad  harsh to say that there nothing worthwhile about the graphics.

     They are technically effective. They are technically great in-terms of realism, but they are missing a lot of what I liked from the last one. Just because something looks real, doesn’t mean I like the design-work and attention-to-detail, I suppose.

    The story also takes a noticeable hit. While the other one deals with Gabriel Belmont trying to bring back his wife, this one deals with him and his relationship with Trever Belmont amongst all else. His son, who is known other-wise in some of the original titles from the series, never really captures my attention. I suppose a lot of that is because it feels like he was thrown in. They might have introduced him more in Mirror of Fate, but considering that it’s a title on the 3DS, I figure they should figure I won’t be playing it. It’ll definitely be cool to see him for some of those that loved the older titles, but everything besides his presence feels like filler.

     A lot of the reason that Lords of Shadow worked is because everything worked together toward enhancing one end-goal. The imagery helped to bring the story together more beautifully, while the game-play connected it all. This one doesn’t seem to have that. The imagery is bleak, the story is iffy, and the  game-play fails worse than both the others. The boss fights were worth praising, but the normal enemies were bland.

     There simply isn’t any form of innovation. While the other one had diverse areas  and all of these different, albeit difficult, puzzles to do, this one doesn’t.  A lot of the enemies seemed more difficult than in the last one, although more difficult isn’t actually the word. It’s more to say that they were more annoying. Too many of them had shields and while it may technically make it more challenging, I would have liked to be able to have those moments where it all hangs out. It hurts the flow, more or less.

    They also try to incorporate stealth game-play. The explanation for it is bizarre, you are too weak, but once you have all your powers around midway, you take much more fiendish adversaries  and have to hide from these robots. Check your brain at the door on that one, I suppose, but other-wise, it also feels like it could have been flushed out better. The stealth wasn’t very challenging or creative. It could have been cool, but it ended up as thrown together.

    Everything felt sort-of thrown together on this one. Konami wanted a sequel and what they brought was  something mediocre.

    In an interview with Eurogamer Spain, the director of the game, Enric Alvarez bitched about a review somebody in on  the Edge. He referred to the reviewer as stupid or blind for giving a 4/10 for a game of this “quality”.

    In conclusion, while I don’t thing it’s THAT bad to where it deserves that rating, you’ll be a little miffed at me when I tell you that you’re either “blind or stupid” to think this holds  as anything more than an  inadequate followup. The story is allover the place, graphics aren’t enthused, controls have regressed, and the game-play is damn-near atrocious at some points.  All the same, I don’t want to completely bash everything about it, it’s not terriblebut it did disappoint me greatly.

     I still want Lords of Shadow  3.

     Thanks for reading…

Rating: – 3.0 out of 5.0