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.
Drink Up Me Hearties
Pirates of the Caribbean – At Worlds End
In addition to some good film making, Pirates of the Caribbean also produced some nice soundtracks. This one trickled its way down to me even though I only saw a part of the movie. Up is Down is also another excellent track, both fit well in games that have an “adventure” theme.
I avoided this one initially because the reviews suggested that it was primarily an RTS, and that was something I really didn’t feel like struggling with at the time. As it turns out the RTS portions are only portions of the game, and are the multi player element. That and the fact that EA released it didn’t help much either. So at around $20 I figured it was safe to pickup for the collection. Wow, was I ever wrong in waiting as long as I did.
If you can merely tolerate any sort of heavy metal; this game is utterly amazing. If you really like the music it is all the better. Brutal Legend is really a full fledged tribute to the entire genre. The music is great and the entire world looks like it was ripped off of an album cover (And technically, it was.) The color, background and environmental effects are simply beautiful, as well as all the character models and animation.
Well technically not an RPG in purest sense of the word, Brutal contains a lot of upgradable elements for your main character and a good way of powering up. The majority of the main story takes place in between being on foot, and driving (Aka, the deuce or the “Druid plow”) with the occasional major battle located to break that up. The story is compelling and well played, easily making this a game where you can look over at the clock and several hours have gone by. There is a large variety of side missions available as well to break things up and are a very good opportunity to see all that the game really has to offer in terms of landscape. The main storyline of the game runs around 30 hours probably, a little on the short side if you’re not putting time into some side quests.
When you’re not running around in the main storyline, you’re directing your army’s against the enemy trying to tear down their stage before they get the better of yours. There is a wide variety of troops amongst the 3 armies of the game.. corresponding to classic metal, death metal and twisted metal appropriately. Your commander is fully able to get into the action and has a good variety of musical solos they they can use to direct the battle. Facemelter for instance, does exactly what it sounds like. The strategic depth is actually better that what I would’ve expected from a console game.
Brutal Legend is well put together and will leave you crying for more. Lets hope they either spend a lot of time to put together a very compelling sequel, or just let it stand alone in it’s glory. Anything less would be simply defacing all the hard work that made this game so excellent.
Conan the Barbarian
Anvil of Crom
I assume anyone into role playing has probably watched Conan the Barbarian at one point in time or another. There was only 2 parts that really got goofed up in my opinion. The first of which, is that Conan is always described with Raven black hair instead of Arnolds brown locks. Secondly, Conan was smart and cunning, just uneducated. In any case, I think it’s still a great movie.
One of the major seperating points between this and Conan the Destroyer (Which wasn’t quite absolutely terrible.) is that besides having a well thought out plot… Basil Poledouris did the soundtrack for the entire movie versus an small segments. As a result, when listening to the soundtrack you can literally tell which part of the story is being told, even without visuals to accompany it. Absolutely fantastic.