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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate 3DS preview – 2.5D Dracula destroying

Don’t call it a port, and definitely don’t call it a remake. Though the 3DS follow-up to Castlevania: Lords of Shadow harkens back to the classic two-dimensional Castlevania entries, it’s forging a decidedly-Western-style path for itself – and that’s not at all a bad thing. Ever since it was revealed in Nintendo Power, we’ve been wondering at just how it would play. Now that we’ve gotten the chance to play through the entire E3 demo and talk to the game’s developers, we’ve got high hopes for this 2.5D whipper’s delight.

Trevor Belmont serves as the game’s brooding protagonist – the story this time around focuses mainly on the Belmont bloodline, and the trials they’ve faced trying to keep Dracula in his coffin. The star of Castlevania III packs the chain-whip hybrid Combat Cross (that Gabriel Belmont wielded in LoS), but he’s got a few moves up his sleeve that feel reminiscent of the classic Prince of Persia. When you’re not cracking your whip into the eye sockets of giant bats, you’ll be double-jumping and ledge grabbing to scale vertical areas, or dodge-rolling to slip past doors just in the nick of time. We didn’t get hands-on time with Simon Belmont, but we imagine he’ll have a slightly different fighting style, with his ordinary whip and elemental magic.

Player feedback to MercurySteam’s Castlevania on consoles was quite favorable; Mirror of Fate looks to capture that same fresh approach to the age-old franchise, and is sure to please fans of Lords of Shadow while still controlling like a classic sidescroller. Think of Mirror of Fate as an expansion to Lords of Shadow – plot-wise, it’s a direct sequel, we’ll see the return of the God Mask and Devil Mask, and the whip-and-dodge combat feels ported straight out of LoS, albeit on a 2D plane.

In fact, everything about the game that doesn’t involve the graphics plays just like a 2D Castlevania, though at a much quicker pace that the 8- or 16-bit installments. During our time with the game, we found ourselves strategically plotting out our offensive assaults against the enormous bosses, making sure to dodge or double-jump past telegraphed attacks. It felt as though the developers wanted to balance actual thought into each fight – mashing enemies with whip attacks will only suffice for the weakest of skeletal warriors. Needing to assess our options during battle made each downed enemy or split-second counterattack feel that much more satisfying. You’ve also got more flashy grab-kills to bust out on weakened enemies; we relished choking the undeath out of a zombie during our demo.

The visuals make great use of the vivid 3DS screen, no matter how pronounced you want the 3D effect – Dave Cox, producer on LoS and MoF, assured us that care was taken with the visuals so that viewpoints could shift during cutscenes without making us nauseous. As was to be expected, the gothic backdrop felt like it had real depth, and the 3D was used to nifty effect during some whipping-a-bat-in-our-faces cinematics. Cox noted that each time they’ve shown the game, people always opted to play with some degree of 3D enabled – a good sign that it’s more immersive than distracting or disorienting.

Though it’s true that Alucard will be a playable character in MoF, Cox asserted that the team isn’t looking to remake Symphony of the Night – or any previous Castlevania, for that matter. Though “Metroidvania” has been the default format for Castlevanias of late, making previously-challenging encounters trivial with the addition of new power-ups and items, MoF will get progressively more difficult the further you delve into the map. That’s not to say that Trevor won’t be getting upgrades – we got to slice some face with the Glaive, a chargeable blade boomerang that could one-shot smaller baddies and stun larger ones for combo setups. But you won’t be getting new pieces of armor every ten minutes, or sifting through dozens of spells; Trevor’s fighting style feels decidedly old-school in all the right ways.

We’ve got high hopes for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate, even if the game’s full title is unnecessarily wordy. As the first Castlevania that’s been built with the 3DS in mind, this could lay the foundation for a decidedly different style of handheld Dracula slaying. With Konami’s guidance and MercurySteam’s willingness to break out of series conventions, MoF might be the first Castlevania to appeal to diehard fans and first-timers alike.

14 comments

  • IceBlueKirby - June 13, 2012 11:49 a.m.

    This game sounds better every time I hear about it. I love the Castlevania series, 2D and 3D (I even enjoyed Castlevania 64, although that was years ago so I'm just going off of nostalgia at this point) and this looks to be a fantastic addition to the 2D side of the series. It also means I need to finish LoS, if this is going to be a sequel, so I'll have to get on that ASAP.
  • BladedFalcon - June 12, 2012 3:52 p.m.

    "As the first Castlevania that’s been built with the 3DS in mind, this could lay the foundation for a decidedly different style of handheld Dracula slaying." I just wanted to point out that trough Twitter. LoS's main producer David Cox has repeatedly stated firmly that MercurySteam's involvement with the Castlevania Series, and the Lords of Shadow storyline and games would end with LoS2, after that, they will no longer be the studio in charge of making the next CV game. So for better or worse, it's unlikely that we will see a sequel or a game similar to Mirror of Fate next. Anyway, I'm pretty excited for this game, and i liked the marrying of the fluid LoS combat with 2D platforming and exploring. I'm also intrigued by the fact that you will have FOUR playable characters in the game, and they will all play an important part of the story. So I'm very interesting to see how they handle the multiple characters and storyline. I'm still not sold on the 3D graphics though, no matter how pretty they look, I like my 2D Castlevania fully 2D and with pretty sprite or hand drawn graphics. Still, at least this is decent looking 3D, and not like that God awful style the 3DS Shinobi game had.
  • slimjim441 - June 12, 2012 3:29 p.m.

    But... how can Trevor have the Combat Cross when Gabriel destroyed it? And if Trevor is Gabriel's son, then there's no way Alucard can be in existence that soon. I'm sure the game will be good, but it looks like they're trying to make the obviously non-canon LoS story canon with more Belmonts. So far, it's not adding up...
  • BladedFalcon - June 12, 2012 3:44 p.m.

    They are not really trying to make the story cannon, so much as they just wanted to tell the story of the Belmont clan in this game. (Since LoS2 will be focused on Gabriel, mainly.) As for why Trevor has a combat Cross... Unless they ignore the DLC or retcon it, I think the trailer already hints at an answer: The old guy that at first glance confused with Zobek, might actually be Rinaldo Gandolfi. And if you remember, in the Original LoS there was a piece of info that revealed that Rinaldo was a member of the brotherhood, was still alive, and that HE was the inventor of the combat Cross. If the old man warning Marie to hide her son from Gabriel is indeed Rinaldo, then it wouldn't be too far fetched to assume that he would create another combat cross for him. And about Alucard... Well, I have no real answer for that one yet. Either Alucard is unrelated to Gabriel, (which would make no sense, but still.) OR... It COULD be that Trevor is defeated/Killed/turned into a vampire by Gabriel, and he is then transformed into Dracula. MercurySteam is of course denying such theories, but it doesn't sound too improbable to me. Also, you should know that MercurySteam has publicly stated in twitter several times that this and LoS2 will be their last games in the CV franchise, and that they plan to wrap all the story and loose ends by LoS2. So either way, I'm sure they'll explain most questions we might have now during both games. (also, remember I told you that was Alucard int he LoS2 trailer? Was I right, or was I right? Have I redeemed myself for that Ashley cosplay blunder yet? :P)
  • slimjim441 - June 12, 2012 6:39 p.m.

    Again, I'm sure MercurySteam will pull through and prove me wrong in every way. When Lords of Shadow first came out, I thought it was going to be the biggest pile of trash since Cvania 64. I was proven horribly wrong. But right now, I'm having a hard time trying to put it together by myself. The possibility of old-guy-from-the-trailer being Rinaldo is much more likely and could possibly mean the existence of another Vampire Killer, but that would be kind of dumb (not as dumb as pretending the first one wasn't destroyed, but...). Also, as per your comment above, with four playable characters, it is possible they could do multiplayer/co-op as an added feature, much like Harmony of Despair (which surprisingly turned out to be one of my favorite Cvania titles). Wishful thinking maybe, but it could be fun. And Alucard in the LoS2 trailer. You called it. Kudos, but I never said you were wrong.
  • BladedFalcon - June 12, 2012 8:21 p.m.

    Um... I don't think they've ever equated the combat cross as being the vampire killer, or a one of a kind. I mean, it IS stated to be special, but it was crafted by a man, who is still alive, and if he was some kind of mentor to Trevor, it would make sense for him to at least try and make a weapon of similar complexity and power as the one Gabriel had. I'd also like to add that the vampire killer in the traditional CV lore is unique not because of it's design, (really, it's a pretty generic whip by looks and function.) but because it was enchanted in a very rare way. THAT I can see as being impossible to make again. The combat cross in LoS however, was unique in it's design, and a complex thing to create, however, there's nothing inherently magical or supernatural about it. So i think it's pretty feasible for the inventor of the original to be able to craft a similar, perhaps even better version of it. And well, Dave Cox did mention that the game will have use with stuff such a street pass and such, but what that consists of hasn't yet been revealed or specified. I don't really care that much though, since I mostly ignore MP in most games.
  • Darkmessiah24 - June 12, 2012 3:28 p.m.

    How would you guys know if the 3D is good? You haven't played it yet besides the GR staff. Anyway, I'm gonna get this game because while I haven't been a big Castlevania fan, the games on the DS were excellent.
  • tehtimeisnow - June 12, 2012 2:55 p.m.

    this gane is so bad i playd it the grafics makes my eyes bleed cuz the 3ds is a pile of garbege that cant even do hd and the contorls suck cuz 3ds is the werst systam of all time i am so not bying this horrable gane
  • slimjim441 - June 12, 2012 3:31 p.m.

    I... you just... I mean... you can't even... wow...
  • BladedFalcon - June 12, 2012 3:34 p.m.

    Dude, I thought that by now you would know better. This guy's an obvious troll, always has been. You're better off just ignoring him XD
  • GR_LucasSullivan - June 12, 2012 4:12 p.m.

    Mr. Jobs?! Is it really you?!?
  • BladedFalcon - June 12, 2012 4:47 p.m.

    Ayup. He has been resurrected as a zombie. Which would definitely explain the atrocious grammar and lack of coherence whatsoever :P
  • robotdickens - June 12, 2012 2:53 p.m.

    I hate 3D with a passion, however this game doesn't look so bad. The graphics are decent compared to most handhelds and the stupidity of the "Oh my God! That moment would've been 3 times as better in 3D!!!" But the story sounds pretty engaging from the stand point it has characters who are believable but then again its like most of the Castlevania games. May by it.
  • Zeos - June 12, 2012 2:48 p.m.

    I think the 3D looks awesome and welcome it and I'm very excited for a new 2D Castlevania.

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