Friday, October 22, 2010

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow on PS3 Impression

A solid 3D Castlevania rocks the PlayStation 3 with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Is it possible for a new Castlevania to fly under the radar? It seems like due to past failures of moving Castlevania into 3D the new adventure, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, did not get the pub it deserves. This is a solid 3D outing for the franchise and while it has its issues and much newness for the franchise it’s a solid game that any third-person fan-boy can dig, regardless of background. What makes this a solid entry for gamers to take on this Halloween season, let’s take a look.

Gameplay – It’s a new take on Castlevania in 3D, done right and taken outside the castle. Fans of God of War, Dante’s Inferno and Bayonetta will feel right at home in this third-person adventure. Gamers assume the role of Gabriel, a man on a mission and sadness in his heart, one that sees him taking on the tides of darkness sweeping the globe. Environments range from frozen winter to swamps full of poisonous mist and of course castles. A handy cross/whip which can be upgraded is the weapon of choice with secondary weapons supported (love daggers and holy water) while Gabriel can also wield magic. Gabriel is a Belmont, one out to kill the Dark Lords, not only the Drac we love. Know this gamers, Lords of Shadow is a new entry in the franchise not a revamp of what’s been done before so enjoy the ties to the franchise past but get ready for a truly next-gen 3D adventure that will devour hours and days of gameplay time.

Graphics – Characters retain a very Castlevania look while the settings are unique, detailed and luscious to traverse. The real world mergers with the land of old gods, like Pan, in settings that need to be experienced in true HD. The cut-scenes look outstanding which is fitting as everything about this game looks good, really solid.

Sound – Haunting and oh so delicious. Patrick Stewart delivers an audio feast while Gabriel shows the emotion and accent needed. As good as the voice acting is the score is a mixture of gothic sadness, mystery and Celtic lore weaved beautifully together. The lack of sound also helps to set the mood as all that can be heard is nature. The standard for Castlevania was set with Symphony of the Night but for the first time since another Castlevania is setting new standards.

Design – Easy to call this a God of War clone but this is not a knock. There are well used timed events and amazingly fun creature designs. Hack and slash, scale giant beast and dodge while enjoying the best 3D Castlevania yet. While this last comment may not be saying much given Castlevania’s history in 3D, Lords of Shadow finally realizes what the franchise should be in 3D. Including Kojima Productions was a brilliant move as was taking a good portion of the adventure outdoors in levels that just beg to be replayed with multiple paths and percentages to achieve completion.

Miscellaneous – Life if good for Castlevania fans. Not only do they get the solid Lords of Shadow but console gamers can download and play with a buddy in Castlevania: Harmony of Despair and iPhone owners can put a puzzling spin on the franchise with Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night. These two titles offer a new take on the excellent franchise. Jump online with Harmony of Despair and fight with friends, strangers or nobody in boss oriented levels then fire up the iPhone for some puzzle battles set to Alucard’s adventures in the ol’ castle. Addictive and oh so fun.

Overall Gabriel don’t need to collect no stinking items or do much exploring. He needs to upgrade his weapons, take the most obvious path to complete his objective and look visually stunning doing it. It’s Castlevania but pulls nice slices from many awesome games such as God of War and pulls it off gracefully. The mixture of established gaming elements weaved into a decent story, outstanding voice acting and a visual feast offers gamers a great chance to turn it off and enjoy a truly enjoyable game. While not perfect Lords of Shadow delivers in so many ways. This gamer loves Castlevania but any gamer can love Lords of Shadow.

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