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“Castlevania” meets “God of War”

October 22, 2010

Konami recently released “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” and after playing through it, I find myself with mixed feelings. While the game is fun, it just doesn’t seem to feel like a “Castlevania” game. The main character is Gabriel Belmont, a member of the Brotherhood of Light.

The storyline was interesting and well put together. Gabriel goes off in search of an item to bring his dead wife back to life and eventually learns that he must find and defeat the three Lords of Shadow to put together the God mask.

In addition, some of the graphics were very well done. Gabriel will travel to many different areas and I often had to stop and just admire the scenery. Plus, the cut scenes were beautifully well done, especially Gabriel himself. However, it is painfully obvious the creators did not put as much effort into the detail of the other characters because they pale in comparison to Gabriel. For example, Gabriel’s wife looked awful.

The game play is basically a mix between “God of War” and “Devil May Cry.” Gabriel’s main weapon is a cross that releases a whip. The controls work well and once players master them, they will be launching enemies into the air only to snatch them back down and swing them around.

To add to the combat, Gabriel gains light and dark magic that he can activate at any time. Attacking with light magic activated will heal Gabriel, while attacking with dark magic activated will increase the power of his whip. To fill up these magic meters, Gabriel must attack enemies without any magic activated, which will cause enemies to drop neutral orbs that can be absorbed as either light or dark magic.

Gabriel also finds subweapons that he can use, such as throwing daggers and holy water. Players must learn which weapons work the most effectively on which enemies. For instance, the throwing daggers do massive damage to werewolves, while holy water works best on vampires and other undead enemies.

The game is also filled with instances where Gabriel will have to take down titan-sized bosses, which generally requires him to crawl around on them searching for their weak spots. While these were very fun, I couldn’t help but feel like I was playing “God of War.” However, they were still fun, especially when Gabriel had to take down a dragon.

Probably my biggest complaint is the lack of camera control. Camera control in a 3-D game is a must! I was constantly getting attacked by enemies that were off screen, which is just unacceptable. In addition, I discovered many platforms that were off to the side that you couldn’t see. The only way to find these platforms, which usually had collectables, was to randomly jump sideways in the air and hope there was something to land on.

Another complaint was the lack of flexibility about where Gabriel can go. The levels are extremely straightforward, which is not typical of a Castlevania game. There are numerous areas that look like you can explore, but there are always hidden walls or they are placed just out of your reach. In other words, the game simply creates an illusion of exploration.

The game also seems to baby you throughout the entire experience. It is understandable and natural to have a tutorial level where tips are displayed, but it is not understandable to have these same tips on level eight! The game is supposed to allow people to figure out the puzzles for themselves. Otherwise, there is no real point.

There are some clever and challenging puzzles, but players are given the option to have the solution given to them. Again, that is just the game babying people through. However, since this is optional it is a minor complaint.

All in all, “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” is a lot of fun. The storyline is interesting and the game play is fun. However, it simply does not feel like a “Castlevania” game. If this does not bother you, then I suggest looking into it.

Features Editor

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