Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow


Castlevania matures

Adventuring (cntd.)

It was nice to see some mounted combat in the demo. In a fast-paced sequence, Belmont rides a celestial-looking steed through a forest while being chased by Warg-mounted werewolves. It's all fairly standard fare, with quick-time moves interspersed between hitting the Warg and hitting its rider. However, such sequences diversify the game and keep the gamer expecting the unexpected; let's hope the dev's have plenty more such surprises lying in wait for us.

The graphical style of Castlevania looks true to its roots. By that I don't mean that it is pixellated, but that it retains the literary Gothic look, albeit with a slightly Japanese twist. The scenery and castles interiors have the trademark Draculean gloom to them, which is complemented by current consoles' dynamic lighting capacities. However, it's the game's monsters that leave the biggest impression, varying from classic werewolves to rotting ogres to armoured, mechanical-looking demons; not to mention the return of classic Castlevania baddies such as the Medusa Heads. Just by looking at some of the creatures exhibited in the trailer, Lords of Shadow is unlikely to get an age rating below 15 (BBFC) or an M (ESRB), breaking from the teen-oriented norm. That being said, this shouldn't trouble the old warhorses of the Castlevania community.

Leading voices

Keen to put as much emphasis on a convincing story as on cinematic action sequences, Konami have enlisted an impressive voice cast of some of Britain's best actors. Belmont himself has a Scottish accent for some reason, but all my doubts were cast aside when I noticed that it was the brilliant Robert Carlyle behind it. Belmont's ally Zobek, who also narrates the game, is voiced by Patrick Stewart, while Jason Isaacs also features in an as-yet unrevealed role; surely one of the main villains? With a cast like that, it seems safe to presume that equal attention will be given to the script, or that even the actors themselves will add their own improvisations to it. One thing that's for certain is that the characters in Lords of Shadow will be a joy to listen to.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow may prove divisive for fans, as gameplay-wise it is going to be more akin to blockbuster titles such as Uncharted 2 and God of War rather than the classic platformers of the past. However, it would take the most reactionary of old-school fans to say that Lords of Shadow isn't doing justice to the series, as stylistically it is Castlevania through and through; The Japanese-Gothic look, the whip and even Medusa heads make a return here, showing the dev's determination to balance the old with the new. Furthermore, the level of story-telling here will give an unprecedented insight into the games folklore; Konami have already stated that after the 20-25 hours it takes to complete the game, players will be able to repeat sequences in order to pick up various items and bits of lore.

The series has thus far failed to impress when making the jump to 3D, as if some dark power has been forcing it to remain stuck in the past. Lords of Shadow appears to be the game to finally lift this curse, making it one of the most anticipated games for the second half of this year.