Saturday, 23. October 2010
Just in case you’re wondering where I’ve been instead of posting. The current incarnation of Castlevania – Lords of Shadow is an excellent addition to the franchise. I’m probably a little over 1/3 of the way into the game right now, playing the 360 version. It’s good that there was some pressure to get this game right, because previous incarnations of Castlevania in 3d have been lacking both in both game play and graphically.
Fortunately this is not the case with LoS; the game uses a well polished but similar style of play to what you might expect out of Darksiders or God of War. Camera angles are for the most part pretty good although there is the occasional spot where you wish it would move more. Thus far however, they haven’t gotten in the way of any major fights. Game play depth is added through the use of both light and shadow magic. The one heals you and the other increases damage. Both have substantial effects on your sub-weapons; Shadow magic for instance turns your daggers into small explosives.
Gone is the familiar system of using hearts for sub-weapons. You actually carry a set number of items to use, and when they are gone, they’re gone. Fortunately the items for the most part drop quite frequently, Your carrying capacity for each is also upgradeable.. particularly if you are efficient at finding all the upgrades. They have varying effectiveness against different monsters which are shown on each monsters description page after you defeat them.
Graphically the game is simply amazing. The textures are very well done with little awkwardness to at all (Incidentally, character texture was always well done in their earlier 3d games.) The backgrounds however is where this game really, really shines. Gone are the boring obviously templated rooms with a full rich 3d background and simply amazing environmental and lighting effects. It really adds a lot of feeling to the game to see everything hidden by fog or shadows. There isn’t just that in the game however; there is a tremendous amounts of area that Gabriel covers, lush woodlands, dank swamps, arctic cold. All are done amazingly well.
Without giving anything away; the plot so far seems to be keyed in heavily in the duality of human nature – Good & evil as you would expect in a Castlevania game. This game is pretty dark, I’d say a lot more so than the feeling of the other games with your hero Garbriel being quite tormented by his actions and mistakes. The voice acting in addition is excellent and adds a real quality unlike a lot of previous games where its some cheesy translation. (Which is good, I’d have expected Patrick Stewart to tell them to go to hell if it wasn’t, hah!)
All in all, this one seems to be a good one for the collection and not just for hardcore enthusiasts. There is a mention of previous characters from the other games, but you would not lose anything if you hadn’t played any of the franchise before. The game is a bit twitchy however and while I wouldn’t say exceedingly difficult there is a distinct learning curve with most bosses. If you’re on a proper difficulty expected to be playing each a couple of times before you finally beat them.