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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Review

This is a discussion on Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Review within the Game Reviews forum, part of the Trophy Guides, Reviews & Articles; Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Review by JackAttack Basic Information: Developers: MercurySteam & Kojima Publisher: Konami North American Release Date: October ...

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    Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Review

    Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Review
    by JackAttack


    Basic Information:
    Developers: MercurySteam & Kojima
    Publisher: Konami
    North American Release Date: October 5, 2010
    European Release Date: October 7, 2010
    Trophies: | 1 | 2 | 25 | 26 |

    Overview:
    Back numerous years ago the Castlevania series was one of the most popular ones out there. With its fun and addicting 2D platforming elements, gamers everywhere flocked to their local stores to go out and buy each new Castlevania on release. However, times had been better for the series, as it had gone without any big-name titles for years. In 2010, Castlevania finally got its big upgrade into the 3rd dimension that we've been waiting for. Can the facelift put the series back on track?

    Gameplay:
    In simple terms, Castlevania's biggest stumbling block here is its gameplay. Basically, it's a mix of hack-and-slash and platforming, which might sound appealing to many - and I'm sure it will be - but to me personally, the gameplay felt uninspired.

    The saying, "If you're gonna steal, steal from the best" somewhat applies here when it comes to Lords of Shadow's gameplay. The core gameplay seems as if it's a complete rip-off of literally every other button masher out there, whether that be God of War or Devil May Cry. While there are some cool aspects such as light and dark magic that give the game a unique flare, it largely feels as if it took different portions of different critically acclaimed games and molded them together into one. Platforming segments are similarly reminiscent of God of War and even Uncharted at times, and there are a pair of boss battles that feel as if they've been copied and pasted over from Shadow of the Colossus.


    Gabriel's Combat-Cross is a unique and cool weapon to use.

    It is to the game's credit, however, that these extremely different gameplay aspects from other games have been meshed together as well as they have here. If I were to tell you that I was making a game that combines the gameplay of Devil May Cry, the boss-battles from Shadow of the Colossus, and platforming segments that resemble Uncharted, I'm sure first impressions would be that the game could not possibly succeed. With Lords of Shadow, while the gameplay is very uninspiring, it still works and works well enough to keep you interested throughout the long singleplayer campaign.

    While the lack of uniqueness is one thing, another is that altogether Castlevania becomes extremely repetitive with its gameplay. Some segments see you defeating one mini-boss in order to be able to jump over a large crevice before killing off the mini-boss, only to re-do the process several more times to progress. This is frankly boring. While the game tries so desperately to find its own in its hack-and-slash style, I found that mashing the hell out of the square button on my controller really doesn't make the experience enjoyable. Light and dark magic is a nice addition to liven the gameplay up, with light magic dealing extra damage when used, and dark magic refilling your health meter with every successful hit on an enemy.


    Hmm, now where have I seen this before?...

    The use of these different types of magic is imperative - especially the dark magic - because the game is definitely one of the most difficult I have played in a long while. While it still looks like a cakewalk when compared to a game like Dark Souls, it's still hard nonetheless. Enemies - even the weaker ones - do big amounts of damage to you, and since your health bar is slim when you originally start out, you're going to be dying over and over again until you finally learn from your mistakes to get it right. Making good use of rolls and magic is needed to succeed, and the challenge is what really makes the gameplay worthwhile. What would normally be a very uninspired combat system can turn into an exciting adrenaline rush as you try to defeat a large group of enemies or one of the many bosses.

    Singleplayer:
    Despite it's gameplay woes, you'll be wanting to see Lords of Shadow through to the end, mostly thanks to the great story you'll find here. You play as Gabriel Belmont, a member of the Brotherhood of Light - an elite group of knights who banish homicidal supernatural creatures - who is desperately trying to do whatever he can to resurrect his deceased wife and save the world from horrible demons. Basically, the heavens and the actual world have been split apart by a powerful demonic force, keeping Gabriel's wife in limbo and not allowing her spirit to pass on into the afterlife. While this means that it's possible for Belmont to save her, it also brings upon horrible monsters into the land, which threaten to destroy all life as we know it. In other words, you're pretty much trying to save the day and your dead wife from horrible creatures.

    While that might sound extremely cliché and uninteresting to people who are not fans of the fantasy genre, I personally thoroughly enjoyed the story, but not so much because it was a fantasy. Rather, the best part of the singleplayer is the phenomenal character development. Even though you might think Gabriel is a total badass when you play as him in combat sequences, in cutscenes where he converses with the spirit of his wife you really find out that Gabriel is flawed. He has his weaknesses and he's a vulnerable character. Similar to Dead Space's Isaac Clarke, Belmont feels like he's an actual person with actual thoughts and feelings.


    While there isn't an abundance of characters, there's still a decent amount of interaction between them.

    Other than Gabriel you'll find yourself with a couple of other characters, but generally the cast is pretty small. You really feel isolated during the game, and even though some cutscenes with other protagonists and antagonists come every so often, you generally feel as if Gabriel is a one-man army going out to save the world on his own. While the story is narrated by a supporting character - Zobek, another member of the Brotherhood of Light - there will very rarely be much conversation between characters.

    My only real gripe with the singleplayer is that it feels horribly disjointed. There are twelve levels in Castlevania, with each being split up into different sections. Once you've completed a section, the game pauses automatically and you're forced into an upgrade screen, followed by some seriously long load times in order to get back to the story and the gameplay. This really ruins the flow of not only the story, but also just playing the game in general. You might feel like a total badass after defeating a boss, and you're thirsty to fight more enemies after, but the game pauses and takes you out of the moment. Since the entire singleplayer will probably take you about twenty hours to beat (it's a long one, which is a pretty big plus in my book), having to stop every thirty minutes or so to be shown that I've unlocked a new upgrade really becomes annoying. Still, the story here - and the ending especially - more than make up for my problem with the game's disjointedness.

    Technical:
    From a technical standpoint, Lords of Shadow is a masterpiece. Never before have my eyes been treated to such a wonderful delight when it comes to graphics. Every texture, every character, and every environment looks sharp and beautiful. From snowy mountain-top vistas to dungeon-like rooms within the main castle, there is not one place you'll venture to that will look bad or dull. On top of that Gabriel Belmont is a character to behold with his awesome animations and cool garb.

    Actually, in general character models look stellar. While the cast of characters is relatively small, each character is designed to delight, with many of them wearing amazingly detailed armor or clothes. Further bringing out these roles is the top-notch voice acting, which is spear-headed by Patrick Stewart who plays his part to perfection as Zobek. His narration is great, and really fits the tale being told. Belmont's voice actor, Robert Carlyle, was also cast perfectly, as he does a good job filling in the role for our main protagonist.


    Attacks bring with them a fantastic graphical flare.

    Of course, Lords of Shadow isn't without any sound other than voice acting. The musical score is well done, with numerous different tracks that are played at different times during different levels. The soundtrack tends to kick in during heated battles, making every day encounters much more epic and at a larger scale than they appear to be. Sound design is also excellent, as the sound of Gabriel's chain-whip will rattle through your ears after every blow successfully landed on an enemy, and everything just sounds great.

    More important than the graphics and sound, however, is that Lords of Shadow proves that its technical prowess means much more than how pretty a few pixels look. During my time with Castlevania, I ran into no frame rate issues, and no bugs or glitches. While invisible walls are frequent, and take away from that sense of awe just a tad, any complaints I have in this department against Lords of Shadow would just simply be nit-picking.

    Trophies:
    While there are quite a few trophies that are story-related, a large portion of them are obtained by completing trials, which can only be done after completing a level and then returning to it later on. There are also a ton of grind trophies such as one for obtaining 100,000 experience points. Additionally, a large chunk of the trophies are for completing levels on higher difficulties, which would mean that you could potentially have to play this 20 hour game 2-3 times in order to get the platinum. It's not necessarily horribly difficult, but obtaining the platinum would be tedious, that much is certain.

    Closing Thoughts:
    Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is ultimately a good game, but not a great one. The story and character development is top-notch, but the gameplay fails to excite. While Lords of Shadow is a technical masterpiece, the game feels horribly disjointed. Ultimately, the good outweighs the bad here, and Lords of Shadow is most definitely a worth-while purchase. While die-hard fans of the series might not feel very much at home, I think fans of other popular games such as God of War or Devil May Cry will appreciate this game as one that is beautiful and intriguing, but not always awe-inspiring when it comes to the gameplay. Still, for the small asking price that is now available, I don't see why you shouldn't take a chance with this game.

    Gamplay: 7/10
    Many elements feel as if they have been copied and pasted into Lords of Shadow from other games, and the gameplay feels un-inspired. Still, it's not horrible and gameplay works well.

    Singleplayer: 9/10
    The story is one that fantasy-lovers will quickly enjoy, but even more impressive is the great character development when it comes to Gabriel Belmont. There are some issues with the game feeling disjointed, though.

    Technical: 10/10
    A technical masterpiece. No bugs or frame rate issues, and the game pushes the PS3's limits when it comes to graphics, musical score, sound design, and voice acting.

    Overall: 8.5/10 Superb
    Last edited by JackAttack; 11-17-2011 at 11:33 PM.

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    Nice review Jack, even if I don't agree with your score you have a great argument up here.
    Gauss's Piracy Uncertainty Principle: When you pirate a game, that act inherently changes the results of what is to come after your pirating. You can't make any statement with any certainty regarding what would have happened had you not pirated the game.


    Gauss's Rating Rationale:
    0-1: A game whose very existence is abhorrent to all things creative and intelligent.
    2-4: A just plain bad game.
    5-6: A game that has alot of mistakes, but is atleast playable and has some enjoyable sections. Good for a rent.
    7: An average game, should be played at some point
    8: A good game, should buy at some point
    9: A great game, day-one purchase
    10: A game that goes above and beyond the generation, its transcendent.

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    Good review. I really liked this game. It's interesting that Hideo Kojima had a pretty big advisory role in the development stages of this game. I'm not sure how much influence of his has shone through, but it's interesting nonetheless.

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    Great review, I really enjoyed this game but my only problem with it is that it should have just been called Lords of Shadow.

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    Great review Jack!

    I think your assessment of Castlevania: LoS is spot on! I agree with you on this 100%



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    Having played the game i can honestly say that it is awesome.so much so that i got all the dlc and completed the game and enjoyed it thoroughly.great review,good work.

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    Nice review. But i would have gave it a 9.5 rating. One of my favorite games of all time. Great graphics, excellent music and the kickass story line is what kept me playing for hours. One of my proudest platinums in my collection.

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    I've been wanting to jam this game for awhile.

    I remember playing castlevania on the N E S almost broke a controller but one hell of a challenge.

    good review.

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    Playing it right now, great game.
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    Review A YEAR LATER ????? c'mon.... for what is worth nice Review, i already have my platinum here

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    Quote Originally Posted by Avan View Post
    Review A YEAR LATER ????? c'mon.... for what is worth nice Review, i already have my platinum here
    Better late than never, 'eh?




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    Quote Originally Posted by Avan View Post
    Review A YEAR LATER ????? c'mon.... for what is worth nice Review, i already have my platinum here
    Who cares if its a review for an older game. A lot of people enjoy reading them so I say let them review whatever games they want. If you want to read reviews on current games there are more than enough gaming websites to cover everything.

    Anyways, great review.
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    I'm glad that I picked up this game for $13.33 on Boxing Day last year. I loved the demo but the game itself is kinda boring. I don't like how there are chapters and it stops to narrate each new level. I find that the action will be there and then this 2-3 minute narration introducing the next level. Don't get me wrong all that's good I just wanted the action to continue with less breaks to keep that adrenaline pumping.

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    Love the review, but not the score. The game is a good 9.5 for me. Still spot on with a lot of the game though.

    Also, Aleksander Mikic did not voice Belmont, but rather Pan. Robert Carlyle was the one that voiced Belmont.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toyachikage View Post
    Love the review, but not the score. The game is a good 9.5 for me. Still spot on with a lot of the game though.

    Also, Aleksander Mikic did not voice Belmont, but rather Pan. Robert Carlyle was the one that voiced Belmont.
    Oh wow, you're right on that. Thanks for pointing out my mistake, will edit that to make it correct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerwan_Ratchet View Post
    Better late than never, 'eh?
    I guess so... now if they will review previous games, i'd like to have a review of almost all... too much to ask?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Avan View Post
    I guess so... now if they will review previous games, i'd like to have a review of almost all... too much to ask?
    We're getting there, not to worry.




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    Quote Originally Posted by Avan View Post
    Review A YEAR LATER ????? c'mon.... for what is worth nice Review, i already have my platinum here
    The RT buys their own games and we do not have a dedicated professional staff here, we are (by definition) an amateur crew of reviewers. We do it strictly for the love of games.

    As such games frequently fall through the cracks because we don't have large coffers of cash and/or publishers sending us review copies of games to review nor do any of us have large portions of our time to dedicate to this, all of us have school/jobs taking our time.

    This is why the RT frequently goes back and reviews older games, because we did not get around to them when they were 'newer.'

    Whats more is YOU may have the platinum, but I am 100% positive many people on this site don't have the platinum. Now that the game is cheap maybe one of them reads this review, or another visitor to the site who is looking for opinions on what to do with that 20 or 30 dollar gift card they have to Best Buy.
    Gauss's Piracy Uncertainty Principle: When you pirate a game, that act inherently changes the results of what is to come after your pirating. You can't make any statement with any certainty regarding what would have happened had you not pirated the game.


    Gauss's Rating Rationale:
    0-1: A game whose very existence is abhorrent to all things creative and intelligent.
    2-4: A just plain bad game.
    5-6: A game that has alot of mistakes, but is atleast playable and has some enjoyable sections. Good for a rent.
    7: An average game, should be played at some point
    8: A good game, should buy at some point
    9: A great game, day-one purchase
    10: A game that goes above and beyond the generation, its transcendent.

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    Great review; great game. This is exactly my type of game and I enjoyed how LoS pushed the boundaries of graphics at the time. Fun game and I think the review hit the nail on the head. Keep up the good work guys and for those who are on the fence on getting this, it`s a recommend from me as well.

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    Great review

    Quote Originally Posted by Gauss View Post
    Whats more is YOU may have the platinum, but I am 100% positive many people on this site don't have the platinum. Now that the game is cheap maybe one of them reads this review, or another visitor to the site who is looking for opinions on what to do with that 20 or 30 dollar gift card they have to Best Buy.
    It's funny that you say that, because I have been thinking of getting this for awhile now, & the review certainly helped with my decision.


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