by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
At long last...
For PC users, it has been a long three year wait for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow to finally make its way to the platform. This ĎUltimate Editioní contains the full game, plus the Reverie and Resurrection downloadable content. The game is considered a reboot to the nearly thirty-year-old franchise, and as such the developer MercurySteam has had a bit of a toy with the surrounding mythology. You still play as a Belmont, and you will still be hacking and slashing your way through hordes of enemies though, so fans of the series will feel right at home.
Too many abilities
For a three-year-old third person action game, Lords of Shadow holds up pretty well. There have certainly been games to come out in the last year with inferior gameplay. The game doesnít appear to operate with any degree of restraint when it comes to introducing new mechanics, though. It seems like I was getting new abilities nearly every other level for at least several hours. Some of them had strangely specific uses. For example, some walls can be smashed through by charging up a powerful fist attack. However, this ability is useless when faced with a wooden door. In this case, you need to charge up a sprint to break it down. Oftentimes I would be looking at an object, and using three or four abilities on it before figuring out what the game wanted me to do. Itís great to have this variety up to a point, but there are just too many things going on here to keep up with.
Enjoyable combat, weak platforming
Thankfully, the combat is a bit simpler, although there is still plenty to keep your mind on. You play as Gabriel Belmont, who is in possession of a Combat-Cross. You have one button for a normal attack and another button for an area attack. These can be used to string together combos. You will be able to unlock and upgrade new combos as you progress through the game.
In addition to this, you also have two separate meters one of which can be active at a time. Light magic is used to replenish your health when you perform successful attacks. Dark magic dishes out more damage to your enemies. Neutral sources of magic can drop from enemies when they die and you must decide which meter to fill up before they disappear. You are also able to block and dodge, and timing a block will open up an enemy to a strong counterattack.
The combat was enjoyable for the most part. Enemies would block and dodge, and would each have their own weaknesses. Gabriel can also collect fairies (which are used to distract enemies), throwing daggers, holy water flasks and parts of a special crystal which, when completed, can be used to unleash a devastatingly powerful attack. Some of the larger enemies like giant spiders and wargs can be mounted once you have done enough damage to them. Riding them around lets you break through obstacles and reach previously unreachable places.
Huge amount of content and a great variety of combat options.
The story doesn't progress very quickly, and you just feel bogged down in certain levels.