CGRundertow CASTLEVANIA: LORDS OF SHADOW for Xbox 360 Video Game Review

There are some games that just can’t seem
to make the transition to 3-D effectively. I’ve mentioned it in my review of the horrific
Paperboy for the N64, but just because a game series has a rusty start to 3-D doesn’t
mean that it can’t redeem itself. Castlevania was a great side-scrolling action game series
until Konami decided to turn it into a more open experience on the N64, which wasn’t
received well. However, if at first you don’t succeed, what are you supposed to do? Yep,
Try again, and Konami did just that. This is Castlevania: Lords of Shadow for the Xbox
360. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow follows Gabriel,
hey that’s my name! Gabriel is a member of the famous Belmont family, so it would
be safe to assume that this follows a similar plot structure to the originals, right? Well,
sort of, but the pace of Lords of Shadow is much slower, allowing for more exploration
and investigation than the first few games, which encouraged speeding through levels to
get to the end without getting hit. I don’t really prefer either style, because both of
them work very well, but this could be a pro or a con depending on what on your personal
taste. Lords of Shadow does really play like Konami
took the original formula and added a third dimension. You’re still going to be fighting
bosses, you still swing weapons and throw items, and there is still quite a bit of platforming.
However, the combat system is actually a lot more fun than earlier games. It’s a combination
of button presses, quick dodges, and QuickTime events, and while I really didn’t have a
problem with the combat in the original games, this is a welcome addition. Of course, some
people do say that it resembles a certain other Playstation exclusive. Maybe, one that
follows a Greek God…of War, but it does feel right at home.
In addition to the classic Castlevania elements, Lords of Shadow adds a few puzzles to the
experience. I wasn’t sure I was going to be on board with this, and to be honest, this
part of the game starts feeling like Zelda, but the puzzles are blended well enough into
the action that it doesn’t really start to bother you. The game has a nice difficulty,
mixing fighting pathetically weak enemies with scary-difficult bosses, with just the
right level of each. Now, the one thing that really bothered me
with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was the camera. It reminds me of the camera used in
old Resident Evil games, and it does not turn at all, it just starts to feel primitave.
The camera shifts angles automatically as you go from one area to another, but I really
don’t know why they did it this way. The right stick isn’t really used, so why can’t
it be used for turning the camera? It baffles me, but because this is the only real flaw
I found, and because the rest of the game is so good, I’ll let it pass.
Visually, Lords of Shadow was really surprising to me. I expected okay visuals, but what I
got were some of the best I have ever seen on the 360. Framerate can get slightly choppy
in cutscenes, but character models and colors are so well done that you won’t even really
notice. Lighting effects are also extremely impressive, and this game really shows that
the 360 isn’t down and out just yet. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is a title that
didn’t get much recognition because it was overshadowed by some of its portable cousins,
but it still one of the best action games available this generation. There really isn’t
an excuse for not playing this.

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