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Monday, December 20, 2010

A Little-Late Review - Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Okay, when I heard Hideo Kojima's crew was working on a Castlevania game, I was skeptical, not only because I'm cynical, but because the phrase “3D Castlevania game” just never sat with me.  One's first impression upon popping in Lords of Shadow is that it has a completely generic opening, familiar to anyone who has ever played a game.  Little did I know thus would be the case with the entire game.

To start on a high note, the environment graphics are quite good.  The environments are filled with lush foliage and well-detailed ruins.  The levels are pretty to look at, and that always helps in keeping the player engaged.  This brings me to an important question: Why the hell do the character models look so bad?

The models look like characters from a PS2 game.  The human models are a little freaky looking, they are stiff and often resemble mannequins during the cutscenes.  With games like Uncharted 2 and, to a lesser extent, Final Fantasy XIII pushing the standards for character models in games it's pretty sad to see a game like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow try so little.  The enemies don't elevate things much either, they are completely uninspired, coming straight from the “Generic Fantasy Bad Guys Guidebook.”  So, are they fun to fight?

No.  Another point against this game.  Wait for the enemy to execute an obvious attack, dodge roll, combo until he is about to do the same attack again.  Just do that over and over.  You win!  Other, larger, bosses are shallow rip offs of those from Shadow of the Colossus.  The difference being, this game holds your hand and tells you everything you need to do, so just imaging Shadow of the Colossus if all the battles where just a series of quick-time events and there you go.

So a hero fighting monsters with combos using a flailing weapon, bosses that require the execution of quick time events...  This is God of War!  Ok, ok, I won't slander God of War anymore by comparing this piece of crap to it, but it's definitely trying to rip the series off.  In fact, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is unsuccessfully ripping off almost every popular action game from the last ten years except Castlevania, which, to the game's credit, has been pretty consistently terrible ever since the release of the phenomenal Symphony of the Night way back in the 1997. 

So, last but certainly least, what about the music?  The Castlevania series is known for it's great soundtrack right?  So is it good?  No!  It's generic orchestral chords that hum in the background and occasionally swell to a climactic phrase.  The music is just like the rest of the game.  It's boring.  Not everything in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is really disastrous, it's just boring.  The developers didn't even try to make an interesting game, they just recycled an already overused formula to make another conventional beat-'em-up disguised as a next-gen title.  If you play a lot of games, you have played this before.  Hell, I'd say even if you don't play a lot of games you've played this before because it works so hard to be like everything else.  It's sad too because this game had a lot of promise behind it.  It had a time-tested pedigree working to revitalize the series, a new look and a new feel.  It's just too bad that this game is so mediocre, it's actually so mediocre it's bad because it doesn't have any excuse to be such a bare-bones, uninspired mess.  I'm holding this one to a higher standard because it could have been so much more.  Sorry Kojima productions, Diz Wonizza fail!

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