Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Fantasy Action-Adventure
Heads Are Gonna Roll
Written by: Albert Marrero, Jr.
With most of the cool games from 2010 released in the latter half of the year, I thought it fitting to go back and find the little gem that didn't quite get as much press as the big dawgs. I looked no further than our favorite vampire hunter family, the Belmonts. If you're a fan of the Castlevania series, you'll undoubtedly be familiar with the games highs and lows. Well you can breathe easy, because Konami does the series another favor here. Castelvania: Lords of Shadow is a stunningly beautiful game, with simple, yet fun and challenging game-play.
The game follows Gabriel Belmont as he treks through a world of monsters as member of The Brotherhood of Light. Wonderfully narrated by Patrick Stewart, the game has a cinematic feel to it. Coupled with an outstanding orchestral soundtrack and it's truly an immersive experience. Sadly, the beauty of the game is mostly background eye-candy. That's not to say that the enemies and our hero don't look dapper on the screen, but most of the world is inaccessible, leading to a very simple (albeit addictive) style of play. In other words, not much Tomb Raider style navigation here. Some of the spots are tricky to get to; there are parts where you have to run towards the screen and hit the edge before it opens up the next area. Other than that, it's pretty clean; I didn't encounter many glitchy areas and if I got stuck, I simply ran around looking in every nook and cranny until I found the right area. The formula is basic: Follow a path, whoop up on some bad guys, and move on.
Speaking of bad guys, G Belmont fights werewolves, goblins, zombies, and massive titans. All are unique and offer their own set of challenges (the goblins throw frickin' bombs at you, meaning they discovered gunpowder before the Chinese!). And that's not the only trick either; there are parts where you actually have to use enemy weapons to advance the level, but the game gives you guidance through on-screen tutorials. The opening fight alone is pretty epic, as you're tasked with defending some townsfolk against werewolves when the big momma wolf shows up. Time to carve some wolf steaks!
You can level up Gabriel by earning experience, which is really cool, because you get combos and weapons that help you unlock certain areas in previous areas you've cleared. This is a nifty way to improve the replay value, for sure. As I've mentioned before, game-play is pretty basic, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. This game has a feel, and it doesn't try to pretend to be something it's not. It's not terribly complex, yet makes you think; it's not impossible, yet really offers a challenge. Of course, your main weapon is a whip-type device, which when not in use, is a cross. Pretty neat idea, as we're kind of a holy hero that's tasked with kicking the tar out of evil creatures. You can block, dodge, and most importantly jump (high), so as you progress, the combos get really cool and really serve to add more dimension to the fighting aspect. Basic vamp hunter stuff right?
All in all, this game is fun. It's not going to reinvent Castlevania to cult-like status, circa 1988, but it does the series proud. And with a main character named Belmont, why expect anything less?
For more info go to: