Thursday, 20 March 2014

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

When the original Lords of Shadow was released, there was some trepidation regarding it being a fresh reboot of the Castlevania series. For a franchise that has spawned over 30 games and is so multi-layered with different story lines, characters and an ever growing mythology, hardcore fans were understandably sceptical. Despite this Lords of Shadow ended up being pretty great, and though it didn't receive the critical acclaim of some of the better Castlevania games, it reassured fans that this new series was at least trying its best. Now comes its direct sequel from developer MercuryRising in the form of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, but amid talk of development woes that effectively led to various employees leaving, is Lord of Shadows 2 any good?

Once again you play as Gabriel Belmont, though now he is simply known as Dracula. After the conclusion of the first game, Dracula has been hiding in the dark recesses of an abandoned cathedral. However, he is located by founding member of the Brotherhood of Light, Zobek, who seeks Dracula's help in order to prevent Satan from returning into the realm of man. With the promise of giving Dracula an eternal rest, something that he has been seeking for quite awhile, Dracula makes an uneasy alliance with Zobek. With the initial job of getting back all of your vampire powers, and then go on to prevent the fall of man at the hands of Satan himself.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is a third-person action adventure with a heavy focus on real-time battles. Though the game does give you a chance to relax and explore its creepy atmosphere, most of your time will be spent hacking your way through an army of hellish creatures. Juggling between three main weapons at hand; a whip, void sword and the chaos claws. Lords of Shadow 2's combat is very much like the first game but, though each weapon can be mastered, the game often turns into an exercise in button mashing, meaning even an un-mastered weapon will easily kill a strong foe. This basically takes the sense of achievement out of successfully winning battles... which should kind of be the point, right?

The most jarring aspect of Lords of Shadow 2 is its setting. Because of where the post-credits scene from Lords of Shadows left him off, Dracula finds himself in a modern city. The city itself, which is open-world and expands in size throughout the course of the game, is kind of interesting, and because it all takes place during one night, its perpetual darkness brings back memories of Arkham City. Despite its European-esque architecture, which partially satisfies the classic Castlevania craving, the game only truly feels at home when in Dracula's Castle. Compared to this, the city just feels boring, stale and, well, not very Castlevania-like.

However, the worst offender here is the fact that the developers have shoehorned in a few stealth segments. Yep, stealth segments in a bloody Castlevania title! Needless to say they are dreadful and come across like the developers saw how popular Assassin’s Creed was and said, “Yeah, we'll have some of that. Yoink!” This on top of the easy combat, rather dull setting and storyline that takes a page from the book of Kingdom Hearts, you know, the page titled “CONTRIVED AS FUCK”, it all ends up dragging down Lords of Shadow 2 quite a bit at times.

If you loved the first one you may want to give it a go, but a full retail price may be too much to be honest. It does have some great moments during the game, but they're few and far between.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 sucks the enjoyment out of the series and gets a 2/5, []

Denis Murphy

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 at CeX

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