by Bane Williams
reviewed on X360
Sounds and music match the overall feel of the game, although some of the music is a tad repetitive. The combat music fades out at completely varied and seemingly random intervals after a fight, which can be a little disconcerting for gamers who are used to using the game’s sound to know if they are out of danger. While the orchestral tones are amazingly apt for the most part, there are a few places, especially at the end of the game, where a building crescendo cuts to absolute silence while the action continues to build.
Voice acting work is magnificent, which is no surprise, considering the amount of amazing talent hired for the game – Sir Patrick Stewart narrates a very large portion of the game and you quite quickly get used to his soothing tones. Robert Carlyle (Stargate Universe, Full Monty) voices Gabriel and perfectly hits the tone of voice required for the main characters mental state. Many more famous and talented actors lend themselves to the game and for that the voice acting is perhaps some of the best I’ve heard in a game to date.
While combat was mentioned earlier, the combo system is extremely rewarding and almost every skill has a use in certain situations and against specific enemies. Finding what skills to use against which enemy takes time and effort, but the game frequently pits you against a single version of an enemy when introducing new ones for you to experiment on. The only downside to this is that for those too impatient to do this trial and error, some of the later enemies can be overwhelmingly challenging.
The game throws new abilities and equipment at you at an almost perfect rate, allowing you to master the use of one item before moving on to the next. All the equipment have bonus skills that are unlocked once you acquire them, generally adding improvements to your already varied arsenal.
Platforming and exploration elements abound in the game, however the former is fairly bland and generally unchallenging, there are no ‘wrong paths’ to take and usually the game lights up the next handhold you have to go to. Exploration is a similar hit and miss affair, most of the time forcing Gabriel to jump against invisible walls or directly at the camera in the hope of finding a secret area. Puzzles are varied and both challenging and rewarding. There are a few puzzles that can provide almost fiendish difficulty if you are unable to figure out what the games designers wanted you to do, one part in particular, just before the end of the first disc, had me stumped for nearly half an hour, until my brain made the connection required (Although 30 minutes of my life could have been spared if I skipped the puzzle).
There are several homage’s made to previous Castlevania titles as well as earlier Kojima Productions work – these nods to titles gone by add a nice touch of nostalgia for those who have played them. It is something that Kojima Production is extremely well known for and it is great to see Lords of Shadow get a similar treatment.
Best for Last
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow shines in so many ways, but by far its strongest part is its amazingly detailed storyline, feeding players just enough information to keep them guessing all the way to the end. It is full of some of the biggest twists and turns I have seen in any game short of Heavy Rain. I was completely enthralled from start to finish and although I felt I knew precisely how the game was going to end, I was very much surprised.
Lords of Shadow combines amazing story, gameplay and audiovisual for an experience that is capable of leaving its mark on your very being. While it is perhaps not what many fans will expect from a Castlevania title, it is by far the best 3D Castlevania ever made and an extremely capable game in its own right. Superb.
Sound, Visual, Combat and Story – action-adventure gamers wet dream.
Platforming a little bland, forced camera occasionally impedes action.