After several successes on Nintendo DS and a pretty good fighter on Wii, Castlevania is setting up a new entry on PS3 and 360. Is it any good? There’s going to be split opinions on Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. That’s one thing I’m certain of.
Graphically the game is a bit disappointing as an HD entry in the Castlevania series. It isn’t ugly- just not much in terms of technical achievements. After a few minutes of exploring the bleak environments will leave you with the impression that Konami really didn’t give the game enough polish. For graphics enthusiasts, this’ll be a serious blow to the game. Presentation-wise, Kojima should be a little ashamed.
The frame rate is really the issue here. On early levels the dark corridors and scenery are nice to look at, but later on you start seeing blemishes in the game engine. You may not notice the faults during the admittedly entertaining boss battles, but enough exploration will land you some unpolished areas. Overall, the game feels rushed in terms of game engine and presentation.
The enemies are probably a little too familiar for many Castlevania fans. Lords of Shadow just doesn’t innovate much when it comes to enemy variety and boss encounters. Gamers disappointed by Castlevania Judgment will be pleased to see the series on familiar ground, but it’s just too familiar– too little has changed and its leaving the series in danger of falling into repetition.
Gameplay-wise, the game is solid. The secondary weapons are more than competently handled- as opposed to last gen’s efforts on PS2. Your needs for tearing through minor enemies are met thanks to crosses and holy water. Yet, here we are again on far too familiar ground. Fans looking for just another ‘par for course’ entry in the Castlevania series won’t be upset. However, anyone hoping for significant innovation will be sorely disappointed.
While Mario, Sonic, Kirby, Link, and Samus have all redefined their respective franchises this generation, Castlevania is just stagnant. This series is dangerously close to falling out of favor with gamers looking for something new. The only design addition is a greater emphasis on combos that comes across as tacked on for a series based on frightening encounters with the undead. What the game does get right is replay value. With over 50 levels, there’s plenty to do. The last issue that needs to be addressed is Gabriel Belmont. While characters like Alucard, Trevor, and Simon have always kept us coming back for more, this guy just falls flat. He’s uninteresting and unappealing as a main character. What development is afforded him does little to make him more enjoyable.