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Castlevania Lords of Shadow

version: pal (de), limited edition - year: 2010 - developer: mercury steam, kojima productions - publisher: konami - format: ps3, blu-ray - condition: near mint - rarity: slight

The European limited edition includes an OST and a cool reproduction of the mask.

 

Castlevania's standard difficulty level is set higher than most current gen action games, but you can change the difficulty anytime in the game. I played the whole thing on standard difficulty which is actually not very hard once you figure out the fighting mechanics.

 

The sense of scale in this game is awesome

 

Sometimes, you'll feel you fell into some kind of Star Wars movie directed by Guillermo Del Toro

 

Some NPCs are particularly attaching...

 

...like this girl who feels familiar and somehow close.

 

Some locations look very good, although the paths are always very linear, with bare bone exploration allowed.

 

hey, it starts to feel familiar here!

 

All locations look equally beautiful, who would have ever guessed that the team behind Jericho had so much artistic talent?

 

Carmilla is one of the few characters who make a come back for this reboot. And what a come back, may I add!

 

Lords of Shadow even allows you to summon a devastating she-demon for help. The summon is beautiful and is a cross between Anima in Final Fantasy X and the Forgotten One in Castlevania Lament of Innocence, plus boobs. Don't be surprised, this is the new trend for medieval action games, remember Dante's Inferno? Plus, Castlevania SOTN was already showing 2D monster breasts back in 1995 when it was not as fashionable.

 

The artwork is surprisingly good considering that Ajami Kojima was not involved
 

Review - Konami had a problem.

It had a powerful franchise like Castlevania that only managed to survive and really succeed with its 2D branch of games on lesser systems while the 3D games released for the living room consoles never took off. Need examples? Just look at the 3D Nintendo 64 games, or the PS2 and Xbox releases: they weren't very good and in all honesty, they failed to sell big numbers and even alienated some of the fan-base which ended up associating a good or "real" Castlevania game only to 2D. This association started to backfire as the franchise inevitably started to feel stale after 3 GameBoy Advance outings and three DS releases which dangerously felt similar.

Also, attempts at replacing the Akumajou Dracula name in Japan with the Castlevania name for the first time with the release Castlevania Concerto of Midnight Sun was a move that did not help increase sales. In fact, the Castlevania name ended up being dropped again in Japan with the release of Akumajou Dracula Crucifix of the Blue Moon (in the west Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow).

The solution to this decline which seemed inexorable? A reboot by an external western company, with an small and average CV (Jericho) based in Spain with supervision of Kojima Productions of Metal Gear fame! If this sounds insane, well the beauty of it is that it was actually a great move!

Now, many Castlevania fans ended up complaining that this game lost its Castlevania feel, that the music is too different, that you aren't actually fighting all the usual enemies and visiting the same locations. Well, guess what? That's exactly what Konami had in mind. Take Castlevania, and make it a big seller like Metal Gear Solid or...God of War (GoW). And yeah, talking about GoW, obviously Mercury Steam is a huge God of War fan as Castlevania Lords of Shadow heavily predates from G0W, from the huge battles with Titans, to the fighting system, to some of the enemies and even some of the viewing angles which are identical. There are a couple of scenes which look copied and pasted from GoW. In one, you'll be ascending a spiraling stair-case and in another one you'll be running on top of huge chains connecting several areas...If you played God of War, you'll know exactly what I am talking about here. What is the limit between tribute and admiration for the work of others and plain plagiarism? I'll let you decide for yourself...

Luckily, Castlevania Lords of Shadow also brings some stuff of its own, like cool NPCs, awesome cut-scenes, a beautiful soundtrack which wouldn't be out of place in a Lord of the Rings type movie, breathtaking and varied locations, and clever puzzle games which can even be skipped if you are inpatient.

One small complaint I have here (and it may well be only me having an issue with it) is that the main character Gabriel doesn't have a convincing face. His perpetual expression of a castrated bull is really a turn off. Apparently, Mercury Steam was originally going for a more barbaric look but Kojima Productions asked to have more of a "likeable" or "relatable" character or something. But hell, I can't shake off that feeling that given the drama Gabriel is living in his adventures and given the intensity of emotions he is going through, he should look way more bad ass and not like some kind of overgrown pussy...but whatever.

All in all, Lords of Shadow is also a very long game for the genre (almost twice as long as God of War III) and is armed to the teeth to finally battle it out against the heavy-weight action games crowding this generation of consoles.

Bottom line: Congratulations to Mercury Steam for resurrecting the franchise from the 2D coffin it was relegated to and respect to Konami who trusted a western developer to bring some new blood to the series. 8/10


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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