Review: Castlevania - Lords of Shadow 2
The series of Lords of Shadow is by all purposes a reboot to the franchise of Castlevania and breathed new life into it that struggled to find it's footing among new gamers. It introduced us to a new character known as Gabriel Belmont who was a part of the Brotherhood of Light, warriors against the forces of evil, as he worked to bring down the Lords of Shadow with Zobek. All of this led down a dark path for Gabriel as he was largely betrayed by Zobek. This dark path led him to a climatic battle with Satan and shortly after his triumph he became a staple figure in the universe of Castlevania known as none other than Dracula. With a sequel in tow, it was a bit perplexing but also very exciting being able to take control of Dracula as up until now fans have always battled against the Prince of Darkness. However, this game is a major disappointment. It is sad to say that considering how strong the story was in the first game and in it's sequel it's biggest downfalls would be that of the story and some major design flaws.
The plot follows Dracula as he wakes up from a long slumber and finds Zobek was the one that woke him. Zobek explains that Satan is rising and when he does his first target would be the one that cast him down all that time ago. Thus, he gives Dracula reason to want to fight Satan once more by offering up the reward of an end to his eternity on Earth. It is definitely a weak start as we have already seen this general story where inevitably, Zobek would turn on him with a final battle against Satan. There, in part, is part of the greatest frustration with Lords of Shadow 2. It is incredibly frustration how the story was largely the most impressive aspects with the original. In this addition, it is just a mess. It is all over the place without a solid narrative and lacks any sense of tension towards the final acts. Instead you are constantly going through the motions. The inclusion of a widely beloved character, Alucard, also felt a bit forced and out of left field.
One of the bigger issues of the game would be that of it's design flaws. Placing you into a modern setting does not feel like the right move for the series and it forces you to see the same environments over and over again. You get to play as Dracula, who were are constantly reminded that he is the Prince of Darkness, and we are in control of all of his great power yet to get to the next floor we are forced to take an elevator. Frequently, these moments of taking a elevator or turning on the power to open another door are ways to disguise load times but still it slows down the game and does not make sense from a logical point of view. More in depth, as Dracula you can dispose of any enemy rather easily yet in the stealth aspects of the game we are told that you cannot stand up against a guard with a gun. Thus, we have to become a rat to get around them or dissipate into a mist to get by them. The stealth aspects of the game bog down the general experience as the combat in this game is it's biggest strength. The enemies in the game, however, lack balance. The enemies in the beginning are incredibly easy but at the end of the game the shear numbers and difficulty of them raise exponentially.
While the game is fun in terms of it's combat, the story and the major design flaws bring down the game to a point where it is almost unplayable. Although, the game did have a terrific score to it that on certain notes made me think of The Matrix, Inception and other great films. It added a nice cinematic feel to the game. You want an example of how I got that sense, then just go watch the trailer, but sadly the trailer is ten times better then the actual game. The story has no sense of direction and feels far to similar to the original, while also taking the character of Dracula and making him out to be a person who suffers from schizophrenia essentially. One moment he pines over his family and what could have been and then the next he is explaining how he is the Prince of Darkness. It frequently makes it difficult for the player to care about the character and even more so, makes Gabriel/Dracula feel that much more like Kratos from God of War. It is a bigger shame due to how great the original was and how it did so much to help bring the franchise back on the map, but sadly, this will be the lasting taste in people's mouth as we look back on the Lords of Shadow series and it will be a very sour taste.