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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Review


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On 04/16/2014 at 12:00 PM by Chris Yarger

It’s a curse to play such horrible garbage.
RECOMMENDATION:

For anyone who doesn’t mind horrendously placed and minimalistic stealth missions coupled with repetitive combat.

Imagine for a moment that you’re the world’s perfect predator, and you have an open and sprawling city that is now your playground after being at rest in the shadows for hundreds of years. You’re sneaking up on your prey, salivating at the heartbeat that is about to feed you when you suddenly step on a twig. The echo of this twig somehow alerts every known enemy of yours, and you’re suddenly flanked and flayed mercilessly without ever being given the chance to fight back. This is Lords of Shadow 2: everything sounds great in theory, yet nothing works the way it’s intended to do so.

I initially welcomed Gabrielle Belmont back into my console life with a joyful heart, only to later shun him away as if he were the sunlight to my vampirism. From the combat to the newly established open-world concept that pushes the player into horrendous stealth scenarios, Lords of Shadow 2 has so many highs (great combat and weaponry) and lows (almost everything else) that I frequently found myself seasick and unwilling to really push myself forward.

Lords of Shadow 2 follows the same basic formula instilled in its predecessor: tight combat that is expanded upon by gaining experience and unlocking new moves to enable better and better combos. Blocking and dodging are keys to survival, and being prepared for a quick time event at any given moment is essential. Luckily, the QTEs can be turned off, but disabling the QTE feature actually makes the combat rather boring and makes biting an enemy for a wee bit of health regeneration much less engaging.

The combat isn’t all based around the classic Castlevania whip-slinging you might expect, for you have two other primary weapons at your disposal. My favorite is definitely the Void Sword. Its attack range is a bit smaller than the whip, but its kicker is that it leeches health from the enemy every time you strike, often leaving you invigorated and ready for more. The other weapon Gabrielle can wield is the Chaos Claw, which easily dismantles an enemy’s armor and shield, leaving them open for whip lashings and other cruel combinations.

That’s right, enemies are now capable of using various plates of armor and a variety of shields. The weirdest part, though, is that demons can now wield guns and rocket launchers, and human enemies are now able to use various mechs to take out our lord Dracul.

The oddities don’t stop at the various enemy weapons and other equipment either, the most disappointing parts are the various stealth missions you’re forced to endure. Not only is the most powerful vampire ever known to the Castlevania franchise scared of a fight, he now has the option to turn into a rat, run past his enemies, and hide in the walls like a coward. The game explains that Dracul is entirely too weak for the enemies he’s avoiding, shattering the lore of Castlevania’s Dracula that has been built up over the last twenty five years.

Stealth missions also bring an entirely new level of frustration when the situations are clearly unfair. Whether you’re attempting to prowl around a silent library and activate five symbols while a faster demon is hastily looking for you, or you’re attempting to sneak through a garden covered in the loudest and crispiest leaves known to man, you’ll continually ask yourself why you’re bothering to push onward. It’s these faults in the stealth missions that paint the biggest picture: the game just isn’t fun. It almost feels as if the developers went the extra mile to drain any sense of enjoyment from Lords of Shadow 2 and left fans with a hollowed shell of this branch of the franchise.

The open(ish) world sounded great at first, but after spending some time navigating through it, I discovered it was really a closeted experience which required a lot of backtracking as I was trying to figure out which way to go. The world is extremely deceiving, for it offers an open and expansive world, yet you are required to obtain certain power ups in order to move onward. You’re forced to walk a straight and narrow line instead of freely exploring the vast city of tunnels. Couple this with the horrid transition sections that force you to flip a switch and wait for a door to close behind you while another door in front of you opens (they probably thought they were cleverly hiding a loading screen), and you’re constantly left wanting more than what was presented to you, much like eating a Twinkie without the filling.

The combat may be tight, but it becomes awfully repetitive with the same enemies spewing at you over and over again. Sooner rather than later, you’ll wish you had something to rest your head against as the game throws yet another shotgun-toting demon at you that requires you to guard-break them back into oblivion--again. My boredom made me realize that this game’s story simply wasn’t worth the effort. The blandness of the tasks and the mediocrity of the storyline made everything seem to drag on forever as I was slaying countless demons and mechs.

Atrocious isn’t a word I like to use too often, but I feel that it is rather fitting for this particular installment in the Castlevania franchise. While the combat flow is spectacular (albeit monotonous), there are no other redeeming elements in Lords of Shadow 2. With a story that felt forced and illogical and an open world that was poorly executed, there simply isn’t enough redemption in the world to forgive this game’s faults.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

leeradical42

04/16/2014 at 01:42 PM

I had high hopes for this one but its really hard to beleive its anyway related to the first one I guess is an example of rushing a game for the sake of the almighty dallar.

Chris Yarger Community Manager

04/16/2014 at 02:09 PM

From what I understand, the development was very hellish. I think that was the foundation for of why this game was pulled in so many directions and poorly executed in every way.

BrokenH

04/16/2014 at 05:35 PM

Without the stealth sections I imagine the game would have at least been bearable. At first I thought people were hating on the game just because Iga left and Kat Bailey wrote that nasty article about how Dracula getting his drink on was comparable to Rape-lay. It's too bad the game really is "that awful" as I was kind of looking forward to it. Guess it is back to Dragon's Dogma Dark Arisen for me! And don't fret me harties! I'm sure Iga will do a kick-starter and have his funding goals met within a week! Wink 

Chris Yarger Community Manager

04/17/2014 at 06:54 AM

Here is the scene that was 'questioned' (Timestamp of 0:00-1:45). That whole debate was one of the dumbest things I've ever heard probably.

It is a shame though, because I really liked the first one and I had high expectations for this game as well, but it just fell so flat.

BrokenH

04/18/2014 at 03:51 AM

Yup,Drac fed really fast just to stave off starvation. No groping and no "rapey stalker smile". It's sad but I think today games like Dark Souls and Dragon's Dogma have more of the Castlevania spirit than this game does. Dark souls has Castlevania's challenge and its' love of decrepid yet beautiful gothic environments whereas Dragon's Dogma literally makes you fear night fall just like Simon's Quest did. On the bright side, I think Iga will do a kick-starter and it will reach it's funding goals rather quickly! 

Pacario

04/16/2014 at 05:36 PM

An example, I guess, of how 'different' isn't always better--I can applaud Mercury Steam for trying to go beyond the ambitions of the first game, but perhaps more of the same would have been better in this case. Pity.

Chris Yarger Community Manager

04/17/2014 at 06:55 AM

I would've preferred a Lords of Shadow 1.5 personally

xDarthKiLLx

04/16/2014 at 07:07 PM

Truth be told - I gave up on having any hope for this game as soon as I found out they were going to bring Dracula into the 21st century.

That just doesn't do it for me.  

Chris Yarger Community Manager

04/17/2014 at 06:56 AM

Dracula in the 21st century could've been a cool idea had it been executed correctly. This game though seemed to want to pull itself in every direction imaginable without ever having a clear vision in sight for of what it wanted to be.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

04/16/2014 at 10:16 PM

What a horrible night to play this game. 

Chris Yarger Community Manager

04/17/2014 at 06:56 AM

Soooo true man.

asrealasitgets

04/16/2014 at 10:17 PM

I didn't like the combat that much from the demo I played. A lot of breaking gaurd and countering.

Chris Yarger Community Manager

04/17/2014 at 06:57 AM

It becomes very repetitive after a while. As I said in the review, I just wanted to rest my head against anything nearby and jam the attack button repetitively.

Coolsetzer

04/19/2014 at 05:48 PM

Well that sucks. I actually enjoyed Mirror of Fate. I was looking for more. If nothing else, at least the story.

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