Tech News on G4
Lords of Shadow 2 has no bite
May 6, 2014
By Alexander Cattani - G4 Canada
In the past, Castlevania fans would often exercise caution before heading into a 3D adventure featuring Dracula. The reason being is that the series hasn't really enjoyed the same acclaim as it did in its familiar 2D space. Then, one of 2010's most underrated games was released: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. The gothic action epic proved to be a step in the right direction and demonstrated that if handled with care, the classic vampire thriller can indeed make the transition to 3D gracefully.
Naturally, expectations were high going into the game's sequel, aptly named Lords of Shadow 2. While some of the qualities that made the original great are still intact, a flock of new problems and odd design choices left me disappointed as Lords of Shadow 2 seems to have taken one step forward and two steps back.
The player once again assumes the role of Gabriel Belmont also more notably know as Dracula. Seeking everlasting rest, Gabriel must first stop Satan from returning to earth. The story, while occasionally interesting, feels dull and forgettable. Supporting characters came and went with little effect on the narrative. It's a shame considering how captivating the dark and twisted Castlevania stories were in the past.
One of the more notable changes to the formula this time around is that parts of the game take place in the modern day, as well as during medieval times. The decision to include modern scenery was a brave one and really hooked me, at least at the beginning. It felt as if I was playing behind a glass window most of the time though. Seeing grand vistas and cityscapes only to be shuffled down a generic gray corridor felt cheap and disappointing.
A constantly reoccurring feeling I had was a desire to be ambitious, but failing to execute. A noticeable lack of commitment to a number of certain mechanics and ideas left many parts of the game feeling half-baked and stitched together. To start, that game presents its self in a pseudo-open world. It encourages exploration but in a very limited manner. Backtracking, alternate paths, and hidden collectable abound but feel as if they were suddenly thrown in as if the developers wanted to pad out the playtime from set piece to set piece, rather then encourage a more rewarding type of exploration.
Another area in where Lords fails to execute on a potentially great mechanic is the stealth aspects. Not only do these segments feel incredibly ham-fisted but also aren't enjoyable in the slightest. It felt ill-fitting to demolish a group of enemies with a multi hit combo only then to be forced to sneak around later on.
It is no surprise that the game's bread and butter lies within its combat. Taking cues from hack n' slash heavyweights like God of War and Devil May Cry, fighting feels fluid, quick and satisfying. With multiple weapons and a skill tree to boot, you'll feel right at home with Lords of Shadows 2's combat if you've played a hack n' slash game in the past five years, as it doesn't deviate from the norm.
If you're a hardcode Castlevania fan, Lords of Shadow 2 might interest you. Newbies, however, should avoid this sequel and try the original instead. Hopefully down the line MercurySteam will realize what made the original such a hit with fans and will resurrect those ideas instead of staking them.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
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