Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Preview
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow has a staunchly loyal following, those who enjoyed the great atmosphere, linear adventuring, and somewhat convoluted story. Personally, I thought the gameplay had significant control and camera issues but for the fans, those were issues that could be overlooked. But those fans may be in for a bit of a surprise when the anticipated sequel arrives next year; developer Mercury Steam has some major changes planned, including the inclusion of a more open-ended format and a freshly revamped magic system.
Let’s start with the latter: In the original LoS, players collected orbs by executing unbroken combo attacks. This filled up your Focus Meter and then, the acquired orbs could be absorbed into your light or dark magic meters; light magic let you drain health from enemies, while dark magic granted you more power. But in LoS2, the light and dark magic is gone, as they’ve been replaced with the Void Sword and Chaos Claws. These boast similar attributes to the aforementioned magic, and they also have their own unique abilities. Furthermore, some opponents will only be vulnerable to either the Sword or Claws, so you have to pay attention.
If you need to regain lost health, just grab a weakened enemy and start drinking. The protagonist uses blood to restore his lost energy; it’ll just be a matter of hitting the appropriate button prompt at the right time. This isn’t a bad idea, although if we’re still vulnerable while we’re sucking blood, and that process takes some time, the result could be immensely frustrating. There are mechanics that sound really great on paper but once those ideas are implemented, they clash with the flow of the game. This has happened in various action games in the past, so let’s hope Mercury Steam knows what they’re doing. We’ll just assume they do.
Another new addition is the Mastery system, which lets you level up your weapons and skills by performing freshly earned moves a certain number of times. This means that you won’t want to use the same moves and combos over and over again; experimentation is your friend! This encourages the player to experience more of what the game has to offer, and your learning should be rewarded. Of course, you’ll be able to choose which weapons and abilities you wish to power up. I usually end up going for the faster weapons, and skills that are effective against most enemies. I’m not a big fan of those specialized blades and abilities.
Lastly, gamers can expect some epic boss fights, which was a hallmark of the original title. The developers did a great job of designing highly imaginative and rewarding encounters, which were both interesting and challenging. We’re seeing glimpses of some mammoth fights in LoS2, and that includes a massive colossus that should be able to crush our protagonist into a fine powder. But of course, we’ve got all sorts of next-level skill, so we’ve got the upper hand, right? Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is scheduled to release on February 28, 2014 for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. A good reason to keep those “old” consoles hooked up, huh?
12/13/2013 Ben Dutka