The game that took the 80’s by storm has finally made its arrival on modern game systems. Castlevania Lords of Shadow breaks away from the traditional 2D platform action that we are all familiar with. I have been a fan of Castlevania since it made its very first appearance on the original 8-bit Nintendo System, and I was excited about the release of CVLoS.
Despite the previous releases that were classic 2D (with the exception of Harmony of Despair on the Xbox Live network), Lords of Shadow takes a completely different approach when tackling Castlevania lore. LoS has been completely redone in 3D and plays more like a 3D action game.
The gameplay is similar to Dante’s Inferno and Devil May Cry; there is less exploring and more attacking, jumping, and running — and that is the norm in action-adventure games. Granted, Konami has done a decent job of separating CVLoS from similiar titles.
LoS does break the mold; it incorporates a really nice combo and skill system that work very well together, along with spells and even a skill section for secondary weapons such as daggers, etc.
When playing CVLoS, you will find yourself attacking everything from likens (i.e. werewolves) to giant titans. The action never really quits; you will be slaughtering everything in your path on your way to accomplish your task, and that is to bring the woman you love back from the dead.
The boss encounters really make CVLoS shine. Nothing is better than fighting a huge boss, scaling his body, and fighting to stay alive while you find his weak points. The end chapter battles are epic and take skill to defeat. There are very few games that capture this epic feeling, and CVLoS does it well.
Despite everything already mentioned, CVLoS makes a slightly rough transition to the world of 3D. There are a lot of things that don’t carry over well. When Castlevania was a 2D side-scrolling adventure, the game was very linear in that you could only travel in four directions — up and down (if there were stairs) and left and right — but this made you think about how to proceed when encountering a creature. This doesn’t apply in LoS; you basically attack everything head on.
Just like the original series, LoS is a very linear adventure. Sometimes the environment is plagued with invisible walls, preventing you from jumping off something like a staircase when clearly there is nothing there stopping you.
The Xbox 360 version of CVLoS seems to suffer from controller issues, along with a handful of glitches. The glitches range from simple plane clipping in the environment to hit box / collision detection issues. The controls feel sluggish at times, like everything is happening under water. This is most noticeable when attacking multiple creatures.
CVLoS comes on two dual-layered discs, and while this is understandable considering the size of the game, it can make playing a hassle. There is an option to install the game discs, but you are still required to have the first disc inserted into your Xbox 360.
One way that could have prevented this disc swapping problem would have been Turn10‘s approach for Forza 3. The second game disc could have been a content disc that required installation in order to play the game. Once installed, only the first game disc would be needed to play.
The environments in LoS are simply amazing. Some stages are photogenic in quality, like they were taken from a magazine. I just wish these environments weren’t so linear, and allowed for exploration.
What makes Castlevania truly special is the music. Anyone who has ever played a Castlevania game will be able to relate to what I am saying. The music is a remastered collection of older scores from the series (along with new tracks), and they capture the essence of the original series.
However, I feel more could have been added to the game before release. I would have preferred new armor and weapons to equip (secondary weapons do not count). I also would have liked the return of food and potions instead of searching for healing statues.
CVLoS left me wanting more in the end. I believe the reboot is on the right track, though, and I can’t wait to see what Konami does with CVLoS 2.
James ‘Daripp3r’ Pittaro
Platform: Xbox 360 (Also available for Playstaton 3)
Developer / Publisher: Konami
|The graphics are nice and blend seamlessly into the Castlevania Universe.|
|This is the department that really makes CVLoS shine the brightest. The music is hands down beautiful.|
|Lords of Shadow separates itself enough from your standard hack-n-slashers to make it unique. It may not play like the old Castlevania, but what is there is still enjoyable.|
|Despite some of the issues mentioned, CVLoS is still a great game. Fans of the series may find it difficult to identify with the changes , but after giving it a chance, it offers a charm all its own.|