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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow super review

Can a fresh approach help this series rise from its grave?

We don’t want to give away every gift the game bestows on the player, but let us say that there are a whole lot more goodies to play with. To give a taste, we’ll mention but a few: Gabriel can tame and ride various beasts; there are hidden weapon upgrades and health/magic meter extending gems that can be found on initial playthroughs, but some can only be attained by going back through levels; there’s a power gauntlet for doing super uppercuts, ground slams, and for solving puzzles; speed boots allow for sprints, long-jumps, and shoulder charges that plunge straight through walls; exploration involves lots of climbing and rappelling; and there are many, many puzzles to solve – some of them clever fun and some of them annoyingly obtuse.


Above: This is one of the more fun puzzles, even if it's incredibly easy (although it has a surprise in store)

The world of LoS is unrestrained beauty: the architecture of alien spires, twisting tree roots, bubbling swamps, and opulent dining halls all evoke pure epicness. In fact, the game as a whole escalates to the point where it becomes ridiculously epic. The boss fights achieve multi-stage transformations long before the final battle. The scale of the titans – copied from Shadow of the Colossus and then polished with a detailed sheen – become increasingly huge until at times Gabriel is like an ant on a tree trunk. The settings of each level become ever more awe-inspiring. Everything in LoS screams bigger, more intricate, more layered. It’s almost exhausting.


Above: Dev recipe - for extra epicness, zoom out the camera until the player is a speck and let the amazing art design speak for itself


Is it better than%26hellip;?

God of War III? No – although that determination was a lot tougher to make than you might think. Parts of Lords of Shadow are actually big improvements over God of War III; the platforming is much more enjoyable, for starters, and the Shadow of the Colossus-inspired Titan battles in LoS feel more engaging, dangerous and puzzle-like thanGoW III’s much-hyped “Titan gameplay” sequences. There’s also much more of LoS to plow through, seeing as it lasts around 15-20 hours (compared to GoW III’s10) and packs in bigger, tougher levels filled with alternate pathways and unlockable trials that make them worth revisiting. Even with all that in Castlevania’s favor, though, GoW III’s parts come together to form something that’s overall more compelling. That it caps off an epic, god-slaying story arc (while LoS creates a new, patchwork canon from previous Castlevania lore) doesn’t hurt, either.

Dante’s Inferno? Yes. EA’s God of War clone wasn’t bad, but it was still a clone; where LoS innovates (or at least copies from various genres) to distinguish itself from God of War, Inferno was a straight-up hack-and-slasher that never seemed happier than when it was biting on Kratos’s style. LoS is more elegant, more varied and more involving than Inferno was, with better puzzles, better combat, more even difficulty and bosses that don’t need monster-spewing tits to make them interesting.

Bayonetta? In this reviewer’s opinion, yes. Bayonetta scored a 10 according to another of our reviewers, so it says something about taste. Not everyone enjoys tongue-in-cheek campiness, so for the more serious minded, Castlevania wins. Bayonetta is also punishingly difficult and insults you for performing poorly, whereas LoS isn’t quite as tough and doesn’t make killing a single enemy feel like a chore the wayBayonetta does. We despised Bayonetta's corny, repetitive music, whereas LoS's orchestral score is beautiful, haunting, and melancholy. Also, LoS’s PS3 version isn’t crap.

Just for you, Metacritic!

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow reinvigorates the franchise by borrowing from other games, adding its own wonderful magic system, and ratcheting up the epic factor to ludicrous degrees. It’s huge in scope, length, and depth, and it’s polished with obvious love and passion.

Sep 28, 2010

More Info

GenreAction
Description

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow reinvigorates the franchise by borrowing from other games, adding its own wonderful magic system, and ratcheting up the epic factor to ludicrous degrees. It’s huge in scope, length, and depth, and it’s polished with obvious love and passion.

Franchise nameCastlevania
UK franchise nameCastlevania
PlatformPS3, Xbox 360
US censor ratingMature
UK censor rating18+
Release date5 October 2010 (US), 8 October 2010 (UK)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My new approach to play all games on Hard mode straight off the bat has proven satisfying. Sure there is some frustration, but I've decided it's the lesser of two evils when weighed against the boredom of easiness that Normal difficulty has become in the era of casual gaming.
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