Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Review!!

Developer(s) MercurySteam
Publisher(s) Konami
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release date(s) February 25, 2014
Genre(s) Action, Adventure
Rating: Mature

Castlevania_Lords_of_Shadow_2_gabrielThree years ago, Mercury Stream succeeded in giving Castlevania fans what they have longed for, a worthy 3-D game in the form of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Because of the positive impact, a sequel was warranted. Lords of Shadow 2 picks after the first game’s surprise ending. It opens with the former Gabriel Belmont, now known as Dracula, enjoying a goblet of blood when his castle is attacked by the Brotherhood of Light. Using the fighting prowess he honed when he was once a part of the Brotherhood and his new vampyric powers, Dracula decimated his enemies. This sequence serves as a tutorial for newcomers and a refresher course for those who have played the first entry. The controls for Dracula are the same as they were before. Instead of the Vampire Killer whip, Dracula has the Blood Whip which is formed from his own blood. Also in his arsenal are the Void Blade which steals his enemies’ life force to replenish his own and the Chaos Claws for close quarters combat, similar to the Dark Claw from the first Lords of Shadow. Blocking is still present in Lords of Shadow 2 and, like before, time it right and the combo meter gets filled. Dracula soon encounters a Paladin Soldier and the Light Titan, a massive mechanical behemoth that begins destroying his castle. Following the defeat of these enemies, the game fast forwards to the present and where the first Lords of Shadow ended. We come to a decrepit Dracula who has been in hiding for nearly a thousand years and has grown tired of immortality. Zobek, who betrayed him before, promises Dracula an end to his eternal life. From here, the story switches from the present to the past where Dracula encounters the spirit of his son Trevor Belmont who guides him through his castle to help him recover weapons and learn more about his past.

PRO: All of the familiar elements that made the first game entertaining make a return for the sequel. Combat is still fast and furious especially now that Gabriel has become Dracula. Amongst his new abilities: Gabriel can transform into a group of rats to move through tight spaces for stealth and he can possess enemies to access areas of the corporation he has infiltrated. He can also summon a cloud of bats to confuse his enemies while he sneaks away. Secondary weapon make a return with an added bonus. Dracula can still use daggers for ranged attacks and because he creates them by hardening his blood, they are unlimited. Another interesting feature is the Void Blade’s ice powers which are only limited by magic. The Dark Claws get upgraded to full-on combat status as they are now weapons not limited by magic except for its abilities. The familiar story line of Castlevania gets a twist, not just with Gabriel becoming Dracula but also with his son Trevor Belmont and grandson Simon Belmont, opening up the potential for a third game.

Castlevania_Lords_of_Shadow_2_urban-environmentCON: As a long-time player of the Castlevania series, I have looked forward to be wowed with each entry. I was thoroughly impressed with the first Lords of Shadow game. Sadly, this is not the case with Lords of Shadow 2. While the new powers are welcome, the combat doesn’t feel as well tuned as in the previous title. There are slight delays in attacking and defending which can be problematic when in the heat of battle. One example is in the modern setting of the game. I found that Gabriel’s dash has been toned down slightly; making it difficult to avoid the larger enemy’s ranged attack. Enemy sets are smaller and easy beatable at times, posing no real threat. I understand that the character is supposed to be powerful so I fail to see the reason for not presenting enemies that can challenge him. The texturing of characters is rough. The transition of shadows on these characters is not very smooth as seen in other titles. And while the castle environment is intriguingly detailed, the modern world’s contemporary setting is a sharp contrast and doesn’t feel natural for this entry.

OVERALL: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is still a good game despite these drawbacks. Robert Carlyle and Patrick Stewart give a good performance but not even they can help the cheesy dialog. Much of the time is spent on stealth and sneaking around. He’s Dracula for crying out. Have him kill things! There is too much focus on exploration and not enough on combat, unlike the first entry where exploring and combat were balanced. However, the combat that does exist is engaging but again, the enemy AI falls short. Hopefully Mercury Stream will learn from this and provide the fans with a worthier third entry.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 gets 3 out of 5.

It’s an average game with average gameplay for an average player.

See you on the next level!

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