I finally got my hands on Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 after wanting it for so long! It’s the sequel to one of my personal favorite games of last generation (as in, Xbox 360/PS3) and I was blown away by the reveal trailer when it first hit. Ever since then, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the time I would get to play it. And now I have!
So, what can I say about it? It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe. My expectations weren’t massively high, and I was wary of the mixed reviews it got (not that reviews alter my opinion all that much). I wasn’t setting the bar too high, but I was basing it on my experience with the first game. I’d say that this game’s quality fell somewhere in-between.
I mean, Lords of Shadow 2 is awesome, let me make that clear. It’s one of the best looking Xbox 360 games and has the same phenomenal quality that the first game did. However, it isn’t the first game at all. LoS2 was a sequel to the spectacle and story of the first game, but not its overall experience or the unique magic that the first game had. The first game wasn’t perfect, and neither is the sequel. Given that the second game is open world and not linear chapters, that also changes just what my experience of it was like. It’s a good open world though, with fun platforming and constant enemy encounters, so I’m ok with it. LoS2 ceased to try to take bits and pieces of other action games and now it’s found its own unique style, which is great.
Of course, I have to briefly mention the rats. I admit, the rats and stealth sequences weren’t the most fun parts of the game, but if you look at it in the context of pacing within gameplay, it sort of makes sense. LoS1 had plenty of diverse puzzles and unique levels that slowed the game down and focused on overcoming a particular sequence. I do admit that stealth really did have no place in LoS2 and it could have done without it, especially given that you’re Dracula. However, gameplay-wise I sort of get why they wanted something a bit different from the usual flow of gameplay. If you look at the stealth segments as more of the trial and error puzzles of the first game, they’ll seem less silly.
Still, I can’t state enough just how amazing the presentation of the game is. Other than the phenomenal graphics, some boss fights do some really unique things visually, stuff that even current gen (Xbox One/PS4) games aren’t doing. It made the game feel much more epic as a result, and I was happy that the scale of the adventure was bigger than the first game, if even the size wasn’t. Yes, LoS2 isn’t as long as the first game story-wise, which took 20+ hours just to beat the base game, whereas LoS2 took me maybe 6 hours? Difference is, LoS1 was done in chapters and had several levels which had long puzzles or traversal, whereas LoS2 gets you right into the combat most on the time, only occasionally dumb-founding you with puzzles. Like I said, they’re not the same experience, but that’s not a bad thing.
Also, the ‘Revelations’ DLC was awesome too, mainly because you got to play as Alucard and use his sword, but also because it had unique levels and puzzles (and no rats either!). If this series ever receives a third game, which is hard to imagine at this point given the crap going on with Konami, I would want it to focus on Alucard and expand his arsenal of powers. The DLC had some really cool ideas for how different Alucard plays from Dracula, and it was fun using his unique fighting style. The last boss of the DLC was really cool!
To me, LoS1 was a classic, a personal one. It’s not highly popular, despite receiving great reviews from critics, but it’s a classic amongst some fans of action games. LoS2, being a sequel to that game, had the responsibility of somehow topping that experience, and well, it didn’t. Not because the game is bad, or isn’t not fun, or that its shortcomings hindered it, but that it’s not the experience that the first was. That is to say, it can’t top the first because it doesn’t need to. I got to play a phenomenal action adventure game that I’d been wanting to get my hands on for a long time, and that’s enough for me.
Essentially, LoS2 may not have replaced the first game in my heart as an instant classic, but that’s just fine. I’m not the kind of person who overly compares games or acts like I need to put down one game to enjoy another one. It was fun, exciting and engaging throughout its campaign and even afterwards as I gathered all the collectible items (which extended the game to over 10+ hours, so really the game is as long as you want it to be). The DLC campaign plus exploration took me about 5 hours, so I feel content. I hope if there’s ever a LoS3, it’ll be even more epic and visually stunning as the first 2 games!
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