GSY REVIEW | X360, PS3, PC Tuesday, February 25, 2014 | 9:00 AM

We reviewed Lords of Shadow 2

We reviewed Lords of Shadow 2

Despite the anticipation surrounding Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, fans are bound to be disappointed by the hit-or-miss nature of the game. There are thankfully a good number of good elements in the game, but for each thing the game does right, there is something barely average to remind us that this second episode is no match for the first one. Details and videos inside as usual.
Note: Since Mirror of Fate is connected with the two Lords of Shadow games, we've decided to add the first 20 minutes of the 360 version which was released some time ago.




First and foremost, it should be said that everything which is set in modern days is usually a failed attempt at bringing something new to the franchise. While some environments are Gothic enough to create a strong atmosphere, the labs, the sewers, the buildings you will visit will have you regret all the gorgeous locations of the first game. Gameplay-wise, let's be clear right from the start: there should never have been stealth sequences in this game. They're poorly executed and they are basically useless, not to mention that it's odd to be obliged to avoid a foe at all costs when barely a few minutes later, you have to take him/her down with all your strength and powers. The only enemies you'll always have to flee are the gigantic armored soldier equipped with a huge laser gun which will leave you no chances of survival when caught. And if the mention of Robocop-like opponents strikes you as odd in a Castlevania game, it's perfectly normal.

As for the good parts, the combat system is undeniably fun, with the use of three main weapons, two of which need magic to work, and a bunch of interesting items you can also use against your enemies (or on yourself should you need a little health potion to see the end of the night). Normal mode is challenging enough to keep you on your toes, but you can always give the hard mode a try if you think you're up to the task. Content-wise, the game is pretty generous, with difficult challenges to unlock provided you find the proper collectibles, a nice emphasis on exploration (which will involve some rather tedious backtracking though - all because of the absence of a real map). The longevity of the game is also praiseworthy, so you can expect to spend some quality time with Gabriel Belmont, even more if you're the completionist type. The soundtrack is quite remarkable too, although we still don't understand why they chose to put those horrible old school sound effects each time the character gains experience or breaks his combo meter.

The lack of variety in the environments comes as a surprise after the fantastic diversity of the landscapes of the previous episodes. The fact that the story can only be set at night may explain the feeling a bit, but not entirely. Talking about visuals, they're not always up to today's standards because of the extreme pixelisation which occur around the main character every time the special effects become too important. It reminds a bit of what could be seen in the Vita version of Ninja Gaiden 2. Other than that and despite some nasty aliasing, the game looks rather good and it's nice to finally be able to control the camera to look at every single detail. Lords of Shadow 2 is also a lot smoother than the first game, which will come as a relief for console players I'm sure. Aside from the horrible design of some modern environments (and some monster), the game's art style is still on of its main strengths, but since you'll be spending your time in the past in Dracula's castle, you won't travel much, hence the redundancy.

Verdict


Much like Darksiders 2 compared to the first one, Lords of Shadow never manages to reach the previous game's greatness. There are some areas of MercurySteam's style which shine, like the excellent combat system for example, but overall there is too much disappointment to call this a successful sequel. You will still have a good time playing this new episode though, minus a bunch of frustrating sequences maybe, so it really depends on what you are ready to accept in terms of flaws and odd design choices.

Recap - PS3
Stealth gameplay - PS3
Combat gameplay - PS3
Boss #1 - PS3
Boss #2 - PS3
Platform gameplay - PS3
Environments #1 - PS3
Environments #2 - PS3
Being a vampire - PS3
Characters - PS3
Mirror of Fate #1 - Xbox 360
Mirror of Fate #2 - Xbox 360

All comments

Commented on 2014-02-25 09:30:05
Steam sale $5 purchase for me.

Thanks for the review. Seems like there is too much unneeded/crappy filler put into this game, for the sake to make it...longer.
Oh yeah, modern day setting blows.
Commented on 2014-02-25 09:48:23
Stealth doesnt fit the series period, especially if you are playing as Dracula.
And I was against modern setting ever since they showed it in the very end of the first game.

But I will still get it since i liked the combat alot and this is the only 3rd person action/adventure worth a damn for god knows how long the next one will show up.

Its out this week so i will be playing it and see all the negative fuzz is all about.
Commented on 2014-02-25 11:32:04
Good read, thanks. Some things sounds like I can overlook but couple will really annoy me like pointless and shitty stealth. I am a big stealth fan but not when it's done shitty and to top off the game goes "actually just get in a fight with these enemies you just tried to avoid using our shitty stealth mechanics". Urgh.

But in general, shame they couldn't follow up the first but it really was no easy task.

Might get on sale but even £25 (which I can get it for in some places) might be worth it. I'll see how I feel this Friday.
Commented on 2014-02-25 12:45:00
No daytime levels makes sense though, he's a vampire after all. :)
Commented on 2014-02-25 13:17:57
Why, why why why why why oh my god. How did this happen ? This should have been one of the greatest. LOS was sooooo good.
Commented on 2014-02-25 13:48:08
This message is in "Boulet Time" (TM), If you still *really* want to see it, click here

Commented on 2014-02-25 16:27:04
Thanks Driftwood for this nice review !
Was looking actually forward to it,but worried from the beginning about modern day settings as some of the other guys here:(
Commented on 2014-02-25 18:45:34
I'm still a fan......REMEMBER kids this is just one Englishman's opinion. I've loved Castlevania Series and production since the NES Days. I've been waiting and for the past year I knew what to expect. Will be getting it for my PC instead of my PS3 this time....PC version allows you to select High-Def Texture Pack on top of the already Selectable Ultra Settings.
Commented on 2014-02-25 18:47:10 In reply to Moonwalker
Yep....I see the "opinions" didn't affect your common sense. Like some of the others.
Commented on 2014-02-25 19:03:34
that's all I've been hearing about this game ... too much too soon and not enough focus on what makes this game great ... though I keep hearing the combat is solid but there aren't enough variety with regards to enemies ... that's the common trend ... - sigh - not happy about that but maybe I won't care when I play it :D
Commented on 2014-02-25 19:08:58
I'll make up my mind on this myself, thank you. Waiting for delivery.
Commented on 2014-02-25 19:28:36
Watched the playthrough: Gameplay is boring and repetetive as hell, graphics are bad, story and dialogues are cringe-worthy - overall it looks extremely unrefined and lacks style... The plot delivers disappointment after disappointment, and please don't hope for any of it to make sense, because there's no logic to find at all. However, a tiny piece of credit has to be given to a certain plot-twist that was kind-of-clever.
Commented on 2014-02-26 01:21:54
Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII are the best two games released this year thus far. I haven't played The Last of Us: Left Behind yet thou..
Commented on 2014-02-26 01:22:37 In reply to ChrisB
Posted by ChrisB
Yep....I see the "opinions" didn't affect your common sense. Like some of the others.
I can't lie.....i do not like the many negative reviews, but i DID love the demo and from what i have seen of several playthrough videos, it looks great. A friend of mine is playing through the game now for review purposes and so far he likes it a lot. Same with Thief. Some totally destroy it in their review and others praise it.

Hexates...

Graphics are bad? Jesus dude they are impressive as hell. At times you'd almost believe you are seeing a X1/PS4 game. The demo looked great, don;t know what video you saw.

The game is 38 euros here on releaseday...still on the fence. But mostly because i still have a big backlog.
Commented on 2014-02-26 07:02:59 In reply to Loakum
Posted by Loakum
Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII are the best two games released this year thus far. I haven't played The Last of Us: Left Behind yet thou..
As much as I love left behind I would say if you're willing to wait, then wait till there's a price drop, it's only 2-3 hours playtime, but excellent playtime.

I'll be geting CLoS2 on a steam sale. It's on my wishlist. Just like State of Decay was on my wishlist, I got an email notification today that it was 50% off and I paid £7.49 for it. :)
Commented on 2014-02-26 08:54:50
360 version seems better than ps3, at least in a little performance metrics. other shit is the same.

Now the cutscenes are realtime. nice change.
Commented on 2014-02-26 17:07:14
I have been playing for 5 or 6 hours, and the game is awesome!

First of all, it has back tracking. And the stealth is very easy and short, so it doesnt bother me at all.

Play the game by yourself, and make your own opinion.
Commented on 2014-02-26 20:26:08 In reply to jmd749
Posted by jmd749
As much as I love left behind I would say if you're willing to wait, then wait till there's a price drop, it's only 2-3 hours playtime, but excellent playtime.

I'll be geting CLoS2 on a steam sale. It's on my wishlist. Just like State of Decay was on my wishlist, I got an email notification today that it was 50% off and I paid £7.49 for it. :)
I was expecting Left Behind to be kind of short. I'm cool with that. Some games I'm holding back on until I get my new LED TV. It's hard trying to save up for one when new awesome games keeps getting announced. lol I just recently pre ordered (in full) The Order 1886 and The Evil Within....and Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes, because well...I'm a Metalhead (metalgearhead). ^_^
Commented on 2014-02-27 00:38:11
The combat is better than the original, but sadly, that's about it. The "stealth" elements suck (i mean it ALWAYS comes down to turning in to a rat and just running past or shooting bats), the puzzles are frustrating bullshit and the story is so bland and boring that it's barely worth playing. I think i'm past the halfway point of the game, and the frustration of doing the same bullshit puzzles over and over again is really starting to wear on me.
Commented on 2014-02-27 02:12:37
I'm several hours into the PC versions:

Pros:

* AMAZING graphics and effects in most areas
* Overall solid voice acting
* Fun combat and upgrades

Cons:

* WTF is this story? Modern day elements are horrid. Goes from classic Castlevania to biochemicals to ancient castles to Hades. It doesn't work at all.

* The switching between the present and past is slow, tedious and totally disjointed.

* Not a single character is likable so far. Dracula/Gabriel is a jerk. So is Zobek.

This is a MAJOR mixed bag. Don't know if I will ever finish it...
Commented on 2014-02-27 06:26:18 In reply to MrPix3l
Posted by MrPix3l
I have been playing for 5 or 6 hours, and the game is awesome!

First of all, it has back tracking. And the stealth is very easy and short, so it doesnt bother me at all.

Play the game by yourself, and make your own opinion.
Agreed, been playing it too now, I think its great with some minor flaws.

Pros:

- Combat is leaps better than LoS1. Much more depth and movelist, better camera and character control. Dashing is perfect, air dash, air block and air counter attack is just perfect. If you go into air attacks it feels like Devil May Cry, you can be there quite a while.
- Story I like it, how its told anyways, especially the very beginning were they show the book and there is a voice acting with artwork and music combined, just amazing. Thats when i loved the story how the whole thing started from LoS1 to Mirror of Fate to LoS2.
- Soundtrack is amazing, Oscar Araujo is a genius and should do movie OSTs as well for epic/fantasy stuff, he is gifted.
- Levels are huge so you always feel to take alternate routes when you find it, just incase you find hidden secrets/items, if not you go back later on to see if the blocked path is opened to you.
- Fantastic graphics on PC, they can easily port this on Ps4 at 1080p/30 fps (or 60 if they can).
- Love the artbook in the menu.
- Weapons are great and i like how much thought they put into adding alot of new items/tools to use like slow down time, find hidden secrets from a bird...etc.
- Platforming is good IMO, its automated almost, but its not suppose to be the next Prince of Persia so, I am okay with it.

Cons:

- Modern day suck, i hated it ever since they showed it in the very end of LoS1.
- Stealth IS boring, its short and easy but still I dont like it.
- I dont like how enemies sometimes can ignore your attacks, no hit reaction and they carry on with their own animations, though thats not new to the genre.
- I dislike the modern and castle settings, thats all there seems to be...so far. In LoS1 you felt like you were on an adventure going to ruins, forests, snowy mountains, swamps, castle...etc. various locations, here it seems to be just two places.

Anyways I have a long way to go with the game, but I put some serious hours into it and I would rate it so far an 8/10...so far.

I love Dracula's new look with the full goatee lol

I just hope they add Victor Belmont, Trevor Belmont and Alucard as playable DLCs with their own storyline on taking down Dracula, like in Mirror of Fate and their own set of moves and items to use, would be amazing.
Commented on 2014-02-27 18:18:27
The modern day parts of the game are freakin awesome! There. I settled the debate. *strikes a b-boy stance*
Commented on 2014-03-11 23:07:38
I've just finished it and I have to say I totally loved it, far better than the first one in my opinion (and I really liked that one). I can't understand the complaints on stealth sections (pretty fun to me and short anyway) or modern locations. Free camera is a great also, it makes the game more immersive. It's also pretty long and has very nice graphics so honestly, if you liked the previous game give this one a try, it deserves better reviews.

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