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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Castlevania Lords of Shadow PS3/Xbox 360 Review

A Reboot of the series, Castlevania makes it's first entrance to the next gen consoles with a Big Stick down a Werewolf's Throat.

A series reboot to the Castlevania series, Lords of Shadow takes players to the year 1047AD where the pact with the heavens is wounded by an evil entity known as the lords of shadow threatens all living things as well as the spirits of the dead. Lords of Shadow is done with collaboration with Kojima productions which brings players a great remake while trying to keep the Castlevania formula true to what the game was. However this is a double edge sword as it will bring new users but will alienate fans of the original.

The story is told in the form of a book of middle earth in the year 1047AD. A time when spirits were not allows to cross over into the light and monsters inhabit the earth and threatens the human existence. You assume the role of Gabriel Belmont who has suffered the tragic death of his wife and blames himself. He sets out to look for the Guardian of the Lake however his journey proves more than a challenge for Gabriel.

As Gabriel proceeds through his path he will come across several creates and allies that will help him in his journey to restore balance. The story is told in the form of a book with 12 chapters and sections. Each sections has something new to collect but users aren't required to collect the items. However once you see a 16% completion on the level you will definitely want to go back and acquire all items to truly complete the level. There are also several other Easter eggs to unlock such as Snake's eye patch to wear. Did I mention Kojima had a role in the game's development?

For each chapter there is also a boss battle where Gabriel collects information or items needed to proceed with the story. The boss battles are some of the greatest that I've ever seen in a game from giant Titan like to beasts from the underworld. Upgrading your weapons is recommended as they get challenging as you go along with the story. 

Upgrades can be gained through the chapter levels as well as using you points earned by killing enemies to upgrade your combat abilities. There are 2 forms of fighting in Lords of Shadow: Short but strong attacks or long range but weak. Both forms can be combined with the jumping ability to take out enemies while in the air. You can also grab enemies and smash them to pieces if your timing is perfect. 

The timing mechanism is done with 2 circles and can only be done when the outer circle is inside the inner circle. This is similar to Resident Evils action scenes where you must press the correct button displayed on the screen only easier as it can be done with any attacking button. This is also used in cutscenes which means that as you play you are not allowed to put the controller down unless you are watching the ending credits. This will catch you by surprise one way or another and can sometimes cause you to fail however the game isn't as evil as the villains in the game and will only send you back to the nearest check point. Some of those checkpoints are at the beginning of the action scene but this is only when fighting boss battles. 

Castlevania is a beautiful game to look at. However PS3 owners will be annoyed as the game always resets to a 720p resolution when it clearly states that it supports 1080p. Xbox 360 owners need not to worry as their game will always display at 1080p. Remember that you can always turn off the 720p option in your display settings menu on the PS3's XMB.

The world of Castlevania is fully detailed with, forest and ruins making up most of the games visuals. Lords of Shadow also follows the same formula as it's 2D predecessors where it keeps things linear throughout the game. A few times you will have the option to choose your own path which will take to the same area as the other path. However be careful with this decision as sometime the other path will have hidden items that you have to collect.

The games soundtrack is absolutely one of the best music scores I have ever heard, I'm wondering if they have released a Soundtrack CD to the game. You will be amazed with the score of the game however there are a few instances when I thought I was listening to the Batman: The Dark Knight Music score. This isn't necessarily a bad this, perhaps it was the same composer who did the music from Batman that did Castlevania. The sound effects are also amazing they bring the world of Castlevania to life. As for voice acting it could have use some improvements in the dialogue however this is more of a script than sound as the voice actors did an amazing job with their recording.

Castlevania is a long game and I mean a long game, it is truly worth the money you paid for. With so many weapons to unlock and a great music score, you will definitely want to keep Castlevania as part of your collection. The games lasts for about 16-20 hours which means you will want to take good care of your data in case it gets corrupted, but don't worry that issue has been fixed.

Closing Comments:
A reboot of the series, Castlevania mixes the old with the new and the end results is a really great game. With over 20 hours of gameplay and memorable boss battles and great visuals and environments, Lords of Shadows promises one hell of an experience. 

GamePlay: 9/10
Graphics: 9.5/10
Sound: 10/10
LifeSpan: 10/10
Total Score: 92/100

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