Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow Review


It would be easy khổng lồ criticize Castlevania: Lords of Shadow for not being a “real” Castlevania, abandoning as it does all of the trappings that have made previous games familiar. It bears little resemblance to either the original platkhung games or the relatively recent “Metroidvania” titles. In fact, Lords of Shadow resembles a Castlevania game almost solely in name only.

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That said, it would be wrong lớn criticize Lords of Shadow for not being a “real” Castlevania. It’s unfair khổng lồ judge this game for what it isn’t … especially when it’s far easier to criticize it for what it is.


Castlevania: Lords of Shadow(Xbox 360 , PlayStation 3)Developer: MercurySteam, Kojima ProductionsPublisher: KonamiReleased: October 5, 2010MSRP: $59.99

Videogames are never ashamed lớn borrow from each other. It’s how this industry evolves. A certain gameplay mechanic works, it gets copied by other games, & that game’s particular genre, as a whole, tends lớn improve sầu. There are some games, such as Darksiders or Singularity, that make an entire experience out of cannibalized bits và pieces, and they work very well.

However, if you’re going lớn have the gall khổng lồ make a game completely lacking in original ideas, you need to lớn piece those ideas together seamlessly, understand why those ideas are successful, and ultimately package them inlớn a fun experience with an original sense of character and that, unfortunately, is where Castlevania: Lords of Shadow completely fails.

Lords of Shadow is as derivative sầu as games get, and there isn’t a single unique idea in the whole game. Whether it’s ripping off Prince of Persia, Devil May Cry, The Legend of Zeldomain authority or a multitude of other third person action games, there isn’t anything in this game that you haven’t seen before. While this would ordinarily be acceptable, developer MercurySteam has failed to lớn underst& why each of the tropes it copies were successful in their original games, và has thus created a game that looks like a poor forgery of other, better titles.


For instance, the climbing sections are boring, and often frustrating. Protagonist Gabriel can rappel from cliffs, but if you rappel lower than the game arbitrarily và secretly decides you can rappel, Gabriel won’t stop. He’ll simply let go of his chain & fall lớn his death. Many surfaces that can be climbed have been hidden from view, & sometimes the game will simply not tell you where to go.

This is all made worse by the game’s dreadful fixed camera, which often makes the environmental exploration far more difficult than it should be, và sometimes will simply obscure important puzzle pieces or locations. Gabriel is often wont lớn jump in the wrong direction, or have his movement controls completely screwed up thanks khổng lồ a poorly placed camera change.

Then there’s the combat, which is a mediocre irritation at best. Most of the enemies are different in aesthetic only. Be they werewolves, vampires, skeletons or goblins, they act almost entirely the same, and all of them are a pain khổng lồ khuyến mãi with. Even the most common enemy has a tendency lớn just ignore Gabriel’s attacks, & almost all opponents have sầu their own overused ground pound attachồng, the kind that creates shockwaves & are usually only used by big boss characters, but are spammed by even regular enemies in this game for some arcane reason. Even worse, Gabriel’s own combos can be broken by the most simple of attacks. There are advanced combos players can purchase with XPhường, but they’re almost all entirely useless as enemies will never let Gabriel complete a single move sầu.


Most of Gabriel’s contextual abilities use the Right Trigger button (on the 360) và this, of course, means that if there are several contextual situations near each other, Gabriel will automatically vày something you don’t want hyên ổn to lớn bởi vì. Grabbing enemies, grabbing levers, grabbing items và grabbing grappling hook points are all the same button, & of course this means that our intrepid hero will grab at switches when you want hyên ổn khổng lồ grab at enemies, & grab as lucid opponents when you’re trying to lớn grab the stunned ones. Brilliant design, there.

Let us also not forget the several boss fights that attempt to lớn carbon copy Shadow of theColossus, but fail because of how thoroughly dull they are. Lacking in the sense of scale và thrill that Team ICO’s original game provided, they feel like cheap pirate copies, reproduced by people who understand that something was successful, but don’t know why it was successful.

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That is Lords of Shadow‘s problem from beginning to lớn kết thúc, this taking of good gameplay tropes without the required knowledge as lớn what makes those tropes good in the first place. It’s not enough lớn have a huge environmental puzzle if you don’t understvà what Ubisoft did with Prince of Persia lớn make environmental puzzles interesting and fun. It’s not enough khổng lồ have platforming sections when your characters jumps are unwieldy as Hell. It’s not enough lớn do anything that this game does in such a halfhearted và lazy manner.


When it’s not copying good tropes poorly, Castlevania is copying bad tropes perfectly. The game is choông chồng full of the kinds of filler that would be considered the obligatory “slow” section of a better game, except this game is made entirely of them. There is a whole màn chơi that consists of those horrendous slow rotating levers, there are doors that need lớn be opened with quick-time-events & there are boring light-and-mirror puzzles that crop up with alarming regularity. These things got old in the last generation, & have sầu absolutely no business being in a modern videogame. Seriously … mirror puzzles in the year 2010? Why don’t we all start riding horse-drawn carriages again while we’re at it?

If mirror puzzles aren’t your thing, there are plenty of others, ranging from arbitrary lớn thoroughly pointless. Sometimes, entire levels are devoted khổng lồ a certain type of puzzle, regardless of how out of place they feel when considered with the rest of the game. Often you’ll be able to lớn choose to unlochồng the solutions to these meaningless mindbenders, or skip some entirely, at the cost of an XPhường reward. This can often be a recommended choice to lớn make, given how most of them slow the already lagging pace down to lớn a crawl và the misleadingly titled “hint” scrolls are often absurdly vague.

It’s not lượt thích anything in the game is especially dreadful. It’s just intensely dull và full of tired gimmicks that most reasonable people got siông xã of ten years ago. In gameplay terms, Lords of Shadow feels lượt thích a middle-of-the-road PlayStation 2 game. In fact, the 3DCastlevania games on the PS2 felt more action packed than this one does. Lords of Shadow‘s combat scenes are ponderous & repetitive sầu, especially the boss fights, which almost entirely amount lớn button mashing và last far too long.

Speaking of long, this game is about fifteen khổng lồ twenty hours, and has all the gameplay of a six hour game, if that. There are long-winded chapters that have no relevance whatsoever & seem shoehorned into lớn the quest out of pure self indulgence. I’d go as far as khổng lồ say that at least five or six whole chapters could have sầu been cut from the game và nothing would have sầu been lost. In fact, the game might have sầu benefited from not being so bloated. It could have been a better paced & tighter experience if the already thin gameplay wasn’t stretched over twelve sầu chapters, each containing at least three levels apiece (save for the last chapter, which replaces levels with massive sầu, waffling cutscenes). These “fluff” chapters, where the story isn’t advanced & the gameplay isn’t added khổng lồ, bởi vì nothing but pad out the one game this year that needed the direct opposite of padding.


Not only that, but the game attempts lớn force even more gameplay by hiding items in early levels that require powers earned in later ones to obtain. In an open game lượt thích Zelda or a cleverly designed title like Metroid, this backtracking is acceptable. However, Lords of Shadow‘s linear levels mean that when you return lớn a previous stage, you have sầu to beat the entire thing from beginning lớn end again, just to lớn get the tác phẩm you came for. You can’t even return to lớn the World Map once you obtain the item either, as your progress only saves at the very over. It’s a transparent and inexcusable attempt khổng lồ bump up the running time, và when the game is already too long, it defies all lô ghích as khổng lồ what MercuryStream were thinking, unless it believes that game length automatically equals value for money (a shockingly poor misconception that we as gamers have unfortunately encouraged).

Add khổng lồ all this a narrative sầu that could be considered banal at best, và you have a recipe for a game that utterly fails to lớn compel. It takes some doing to lớn make me tired of Patriông chồng Stewart’s voice, but after twelve loading screens full of overwrought, over-acted exposition that desperately tries khổng lồ tell us how we should be feeling because the game itself doesn’t communicate any of its narrative concepts properly, I wanted one of my favorite actors khổng lồ just shut up. If only the script made a liông xã of sense, or Gabriel acted as hateful và corrupted as the loading screens tell us he is, then the piss-poor story might have sầu been enjoyable in some way. However, this isn’t the case.

It would be dishonest khổng lồ say that the game neveroccasionallythreatens khổng lồ be exciting. A few standout boss fights, such as the Evil Butcher, the Grave Digger or the final battle, are pretty intense and rather fun. These are mere glimmering gems buried in mounds of turgid compost, however, and bởi little to lớn heighten the overall dreariness of the adventure. It also has to lớn be said that the game’s epilogue is fantastic, but all that does is make me miserable that the rest of the game wasn’t up to that standard.


At least the game’s visuals aren’t as dismal as the rest of it. Lords of Shadow is most definitely a pretty game, with some terrific animation và rather inspiring environments. Even the darker và more brooding levels manage to lớn be vibrant và gorgeous to lớn look at. The sound doesn’t hold up its kết thúc of the bargain, relying on generic sound effects and a generic soundtrachồng, but Robert Carlyle puts in a solid performance as the main character.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is fifteen hours of cobbled together gameplay that could be considered functional at best & worthless at worst. It’s a Frankenstein’s Monster of other peoples’ ideas, stitched together in a haphazard and clueless way, totally bereft of soul or meaning.The easily impressed may be fooled by the game’s undeniable production values và allow themselves to lớn be tricked into lớn thinking they’re playing a masterpiece, but if anything, this title is a poor man’s Dante’s Inferno. Depending on your outlook that may make it a hobo’s God of War.

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Not only is the game completely unoriginal, it doesn’t even manage to lớn be seamless and competent with its copying like an unoriginal game needs lớn be. There’s no justification for Lords of Shadow. It’s simply a second-rate title that might have sầu been good a decade ago, but doesn’t need lớn exist in this day and age.

Score: 5.0 — Mediocre(5s are an exercise in apathy, neither Solid nor Liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit “meh,” really.)