PS3 Reviews: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Review

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Review

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Graphics:

 

7.5

Gameplay:

 

5.8

Sound:

 

8.0

Control:

 

6.3

Replay Value:

 

5.5

Overall Rating:       6.6

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

Konami

Developer:

Mercury Steam

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Action

Release Date:

February 25, 2014

When producing an anticipated sequel, a developer must always walk that fine line between “too familiar” and “too different.” If it’s too much like the original, it will be accused of being a rehash that didn’t require much effort. If it tries to do too many new things, it will invariably annoy fans of the first title. The problem with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is that it falls into the “too different” category; while I always encourage fresh ideas from designers, if those ideas don’t work out, the result is somewhat disappointing.

The atmosphere is a perfect example of an unwanted change, in my opinion. Best known for a dark, gothic environment, this franchise thrives in the mythical, shadowy alleys of fantasy. When you implement a futuristic 21st-century setting, you’re not staying true to the franchise’s exalted core. The graphics have the benefit of a great sense of style and flair, and the animations and special effects are solid. Some are even fantastic. You can also travel back and forth between past and present, but at no point did I feel like I’m playing a Castlevania game.

As for the audio, we’re treated to a few excellent voice performances from a talented cast, and the soundtrack has that epic, sweeping quality I would’ve expected. The strange part is that it sort of clashes with the visual presentation; the music and effects – for the most part – do give me that familiar Castlevania feel. They tossed in a few more modern-sounding tracks, which don’t really do it for me, but the sound is a definite highlight throughout. Combat especially benefits from some wonderfully effective in-your-face effects that drag you into the experience.

Change. It’s welcome…but not. It’s ambitious…but unnecessary. This is how I’d summarize most of the newer gameplay elements I find in Lords of Shadow 2. Let’s start with the more open-ended structure, which is drastically different from the extremely linear setup in the first title. Thing is, I’m all about striking a happy medium; finding a balance that doesn’t feel forced. This, unfortunately, feels forced. I would agree that the original game felt too constricted, but despite the increased diversity and size of the environments, the sequel seems to lack a soul. I’d rather be somewhat restricted and still have a soul.

The other problem is that while the first title gave gamers a relatively interesting, twisting storyline, the plot here fails to impress. It has its fair share of surprises, yeah, but the writers make a critical mistake: They don’t make the protagonist interesting enough. He’s not exactly sympathetic and he’s not exactly heroic; he’s fighting for a specific reason but sometimes that reason gets lost amid the muddled storytelling. He’s not the only character that’s ill-defined and under-developed, though, which is unfortunate. This story just doesn’t have it where it counts, but it thinks it does. Sadly, the more ponderous, thoughtful elements just don’t mean much.

On the plus side, the game is quite fun to play. The combat is really cool and action aficionados will appreciate the added complexity and intricacy. Gabriel has light and heavy attacks at his disposal (ala Kratos in God of War) and the control feels light and responsive. This protagonist is appropriately powerful and the depth rewards those who experiment with Gabriel’s entire arsenal. The new experience system open up a myriad of new abilities, each of which is flashier and more devastating than the last. Between the basic whip attack (hey, that feels like Castlevania!), Chaos Claws and Void Sword, you can dish out some serious pain.

Strategy plays a role as well, as each weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses, which the game forces us to understand and acknowledge. But as is the case with just about everything in this game, it’s another good news-bad news situation: While you have great weapons and super fun skills, the enemy roster is uninspired and ultimately underwhelming. Granted, there are several wicked boss encounters but in general, the foes you face are generic. The ones that aren’t generic seem very much out of place; I have yet to determine the origin – or necessity – of those weird, alien-like creatures that carry automatic weapons.

Still, I won’t harp on that too much. I always say I like heroes that feel powerful and I’ve never really minded faceless, bland enemies before, so I’m not about to be hypocritical here. I had plenty of fun learning the combat system and employing Gabriel’s wide array of damaging abilities. Yes, I did. What I did not like was struggling through the poorly implemented stealth segments. They’re not well designed and they never even bother to tell you why you can’t just smash everything in sight. What’s so special about this particular area and these particular enemies? This just screams “tacked-on” and that’s very frustrating.

It’s one of those nonsensical additions that do nothing for the game; in fact, it detracts from the fun factor. The open-world element, on the other hand, is destined to be controversial. Purists may hate it but the various environments are quite attractive. I liked that we didn’t feel as bottled up as before, and earning new skills that open up more of the map (double-jump, mist transformation, etc.) reminded me of the good ol’ days of Symphony of the Night. I have no problem with utilizing a sandbox-style when you also have an adventure-like mechanic that really encourages you to keep playing. Locate upgrades, documents, hidden areas, and get stronger in the process. Fine by me.

I just wish they hadn’t tried so hard. That’s odd to say, but it really seems as if the team desperately wanted to avoid the “oh, we’ve played this before” accusation, so they decided on a few fresh components. Unfortunately, those components had no place in the game and just left us scratching our heads. When it makes sense, I say give it a try. When it goes against the very spirit of an entire series – especially one with such an amazing history – and it simply doesn’t fit the gameplay structure, it feels like a lame attempt. At the same time, I can’t deny that the deeper, more rewarding combat and larger environments does make this game quite entertaining…at least for a while.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 isn’t the sequel the fans wanted. It seems somewhat disjointed in that it lacks focus; in short, it tries to be something it’s not far too often. The modern-day theme simply doesn’t work, the story is muddy and hardly involving, and the stealth segments were just a mistake. However, the combat might be good enough to keep you playing, and the open environments are packed with secrets and other hidden goodies. Plus, I always love the Zelda-like structure that involves earning new abilities/equipment that ultimately let you open up more of the map. The question for you will be— “do the positives outweigh the negatives?”

The Good: Very pretty effects and animations. Excellent soundtrack. In-depth, engaging combat system. Open-world setup adds more content and an appreciated dynamic.

The Bad: Modern setting doesn’t feel right. Story is ill-formed and the protagonist isn’t interesting enough. Stealth sections are poorly designed.

The Ugly: “Somebody needs to explain why I have to sneak around here.”

2/27/2014 Ben Dutka

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Comments (52 posts)

MrAnonymity
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 10:16:02 PM
Reply

Hm... I may have to pass on this one. With the exception of the two on PS2, I really only care for the classic-feeling titles (such as SOTN and the DS titles). I played Lords of Shadow, but never got around to beating it and really don't feel as though I am necessarily missing out on something amazing. I've no problem contenting myself with the awesome Harmony of Despair until a SOTN-caliber release drops.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 10:21:50 PM

"...until a SOTN-caliber release drops."

YES. I'd adore that but...don't hold your breath.

Agree with this comment 6 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Draguss
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 10:27:27 PM

Isn't classic castlevania actually quite different from SotN or any other metroidvania titles?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 10:31:14 PM

Sort of. Games like SotN and HoD are still 2D side-scrolling but they have deeper role-playing and exploration elements. Personally, I always thought of such games as the logical advancement of the Castlevania series.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 2/27/2014 10:31:42 PM

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 10:47:13 PM

Yeah, I never finished the first game either. SOTN is such a perfect game and I know it will never be topped but is it too much to ask for something similar?

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Draguss
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 10:48:28 PM

I see. I never actually played the classic ones (SotN was my first), but I remember running into a forum once with a lot of people wishing the series would go back to pre-metroidvania gameplay. I may have to try one out just to see how different they really are.

@LV Well, it's not like it's completely unmatched in the whole series. Dawn of Sorrow didn't really surpass it, but it came pretty damn close.

Last edited by Draguss on 2/27/2014 10:50:00 PM

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 10:56:20 PM

True, it is an excellent game but that was nearly a decade ago. :(

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 10:54:32 PM
Reply

Leave it to the Castlevania series to follow up a decent game with a mediocre sequel.

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BikerSaint
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 11:03:28 PM
Reply

Sounds like they could've really used Kojima's help once again on this one too.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 11:25:20 PM
Reply

Sadness. Mercury Steam's vision never was quite right for this franchise. I look forward to it going to someone else like Ninja Theory.

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Lawless SXE
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 11:31:40 PM

I agree on NT, but I don't think too many others will. ;)

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 11:36:12 PM

I'd love to see what NT can do. I've enjoyed all of their games so far.

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Oxvial
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 10:00:57 AM

Plot-wise they made a great story there are not other Castlevania with a better plot than this or much games this past gen, heck it's better than The Last of Us and Walking Dead first season stories (I still don't play the second season).

So their vision wasn't that bad, the thing I agree with you World would be gameplay and music doesn't feel Castlevania'ish

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 11:48:31 AM

I still don't think the story in the first game fit with the series either, and yes I played it all the way through.

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Oxvial
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 3:11:17 PM

It's a reboot the spirit it's make another history based on the past games the result? they did a history that it's several times better than any other Castlevania game or any Vampire movie ever made, the only Vampire plot which beat what Mercury did are the White Wolf: Vampire The Masquerade series.

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Bonampak
Saturday, March 01, 2014 @ 2:45:53 PM

"they did a history that it's several times better than any other Castlevania game or any Vampire movie ever made"

^^^ That's your opinion. The story in the first game was not exactly stellar. Just a lot of convoluted plot twists here and there.

In regards to the story of the games being superior to what you can see in ANY vampire movie EVER made..... that would only be true if you started watching vampire movies by way of the TWILIGHT trilogy and not much else.

Heck, there been recent vampire movies with a better story already. "Let the Right One In" (the original, not the remake) is an example of that. And it was better as a book too.

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Oxvial
Saturday, March 01, 2014 @ 4:30:16 PM

I read a bit of that and no, White Wolf Vampire the Masquerade books it's the only one that beat this, Twilight lol that garbage with those things that I refuse to call Vampires shouldn't be typed here.

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Lawless SXE
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 11:30:54 PM
Reply

Sounds like a fundamentally confused game, which is a shame. The demo I played at the EB Expo last year was wicked fun and prompted me to pick up the original, of which I've played about five hours - I was interrupted. Sad that this is of a lower general quality than its predecessor. Be good to see what Mercury Steam does next, now that they're moving away from Castlevania.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 12:38:24 AM

Fundamentally confused is a proper description.

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cLoudou
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 11:35:20 PM
Reply

Was really look forward to this especially with it's modern day setting, kinda had a feeling it was not going to be good. Lucky for me I waited for reviews on this and Thief rather than buying on impulse.

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 11:37:19 PM

I'd join you in the forums but it has been so long I don't remember my login information.

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cLoudou
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 10:42:32 AM

Been barely on the forums myself. We need an infusion of new blood.

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PlatformGamerNZ
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 12:05:55 AM
Reply

i mean the game looks resonable but thats a pritty rubbish score i'll need to look into what u've got to say ben.

happy gaming =)

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Kiryu
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 12:10:20 AM
Reply

Thats right Kojima left , game goes bad

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ethird1
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 4:03:28 AM
Reply

If it ain't 2d, it ain't for me. :)

End of line.

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Big_Boss90
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 6:23:46 AM
Reply

Hmm 6.6 i dont think i can agree i mean the game is far from perfect but and has its issues but overall the game is enjoyable, iam hitting the 30 hour mark on this and only 60 percnt done idk maybe its just me.. And i get it its not classic castlevania which SOTN is still the best and like a few of you said could never be topped but the los series is good imho and worth playing just go with your gut reviewers can be harsh and wrong.....

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Oxvial
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 9:36:48 AM

I agree it feels more like a 8.0 game imo, also the story it's actually great there are not Castlevania with better plot than this, they actually learned from Kojima as a storyteller and did well in that part.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 10:59:55 AM

If you think this plot is "great," I think you need to read more.

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Oxvial
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 3:12:38 PM

Okay Ben tell me a Vampire book with better plot that beat this.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 4:57:23 PM

Uh...I'm just talking about books in general.

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Teddie9
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 6:21:45 PM

being the best of mediocrity does make you good.....

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Teddie9
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 9:21:48 PM

oops! I meant that it does NOT make you any good....sigh...

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Oxvial
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 10:29:26 PM

Nah books in general I agree with you Ben, but as a Vampire plot there are not better than this, mediocrity? the first game was solid 8.5 this one a 8.0 imo. mediocrity are 5.0 or lower rated games.

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___________
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 7:17:30 AM
Reply

sigh.
has such such high hopes for this, and thief.
so many games these days feel spoiled because developers shoehorned things in for the sake of it.
as the saying goes too many chefs in the kitchen spoil the soup.
shame because CLoS was one of the best games of last gen!
knew turning him into dracula was a bad idea!

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MRSUCCESS
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 10:39:50 AM
Reply

How unfortunate that it scored so low. I'm still going to buy it because I enjoyed the first one, but with Dark Souls 2 and MGS5 around the corner, I'm going to wait for the price to drop. Too many games and too little time.

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Dante399
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 11:21:30 AM
Reply

I am buying the game tonight ; )

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berserk
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 12:32:12 PM
Reply

What i want is them making a castlevania using the animated artwork showing the moves .

2d castlevania need to comeback on consoles .

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Big_Boss90
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 2:39:39 PM
Reply

Yea aleast a 8.5 story is great gameplay is great, we need to play the game for what it is and stop living in the past as we all know another like SOTN wont happen!!!!

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Oxvial
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 3:18:40 PM

Yep that SOTN it's a better game, a masterpiece but that was pure game play, one of the most simple plots ever, I just don't get people hating on the plot of this game without even playing, and talking wonders about SOTN lol.

But whatever I just don't get a lot of gamers these days for example Dishonored has to be one of the most boring plots I ever watched and people love the heck of it e_e.

Last edited by Oxvial on 2/28/2014 3:19:36 PM

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Teddie9
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 6:23:19 PM

Dishonored is liked mainly for its gameplay, not its plot which was merely sufficient to justify what was happening.

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Oxvial
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 10:34:46 PM

Yep but if people claim this game plot it's awful and that affect the game, Dishonored story was bland and the characters doesn't even beat in charisma department the generic knights that Dracula beat in the first scene, I just returned it ASAP on this gen gameplay oriented games are only okay for the fighting genre imo.

Just imagine a Metal Gear Solid in which the plot fails D:

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Big_Boss90
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 5:33:18 PM
Reply

I agree 100 percent on Dishonoredthe problem with gamers is they don't like change clearly mercury steam was passionate with the LoS series and i think they did well and deserve more then this mediocre score if you enjoyed the first which most of you here did then you will love this...... And thoses bashing on this if you think you can make a better castlevania then by all means open a studio and make one iam dying to play it!!!!!!

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Big_Boss90
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 8:24:32 PM
Reply

So a game tht does not have a good story but good gameplay get 9 and 10 by reveiwers but a game that have good story and gameplay gets a 6.6 i dont uderstand i played both and iam having more fun with LoS2. I will never base purchase on a reveiw NEVER

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, March 01, 2014 @ 12:20:17 PM

Nobody said it had a good story. And the gameplay takes a serious hit because of the ridiculous stealth segments.

...thought I made that very clear in the review. By all means, don't base your purchase on a review. You'll just waste more money and that's fine with me.

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Oxvial
Saturday, March 01, 2014 @ 4:32:40 PM

Actually I been saying it has a good story, several times better than Dishonored a game that a lot of people loved.

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Lone Wanderer
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 9:05:29 PM
Reply

First of all people need to stop basing a purchase on a review.secondly this game deserves an 8.5 score. The story is great and the stealth sections make sense if you are actually paying attention to the story.Dracula does not have all his powers back he is weak they make that abundantly clear in the game.hence why the sneaking around.the story makes perfect sense if you've played though the first one all the way to the end.its a story of vengeance and closure. The story does have where it counts and it is doing what it thinks its doing.I'll be back.at work.

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Big_Boss90
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 9:18:29 PM

Agreed!!! Enough said

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, March 01, 2014 @ 12:21:20 PM

Based on both your grammar and sentence structure, I'm not sure anyone should be accepting your analysis of STORY.

Again, obviously people who never pick up a book.

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Big_Boss90
Saturday, March 01, 2014 @ 1:57:40 PM
Reply

Again, your reveiw is mediocre you stated in your last post and correct me if I'am wrong please ( I'am disappointed with lords of shadow 2 that i may not even finish it ,it's just to disjointed) so i repeat myself, How can we take your review seriously it's mediocre, You haven't completed the game so your review is invalid.

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Lone Wanderer
Saturday, March 01, 2014 @ 3:59:49 PM
Reply

I wanted to ask that very question. Don't fret about reviews Big_Boss. I'm absolutely done with reviewers and their out of touch opinions. Its the gamers who play and grind everyday that know the quality of a game. Once a gamer steps up to the podium, they begin to lose all reasoning. They get too self absorbed in their own self rightous glory. Pride suffocates logic and humility is a bygone factor.
I told GameInformer too f**k off and no longer will be associating with those jock prep nerd sorority like jackasses ever again. I'm done with IGN and the so called "gamers" there. The whole of which are douchebags who don't really play games enough to pass judgement on.Kotaku,Gamespot,etc,etc,etc You get the idea. Done with all reviewers!
I'll be done with this site too once Thief is wrongfully rated a 6.8 as well. I'll just start getting my news about video games the old fashioned way,word of mouth from people who are still down to earth and retain a semblance of logic and reason.
I dont know what it is but their is something in the water and in our food that is causing this rash of illogicial and insane though process and behavioural attitude over the last decade... and not just to do with gaming. Everything. Im seeing it in everything. Its not just me either, so you can rule out paranoia for those who choose to make criticising remarks.
The best way to put it is I'm starting to feel how the teenagers began to feel from The Faculty movie. For the very same reason because people are acting strangely as of late.

Last edited by Lone Wanderer on 3/1/2014 4:00:19 PM

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Big_Boss90
Saturday, March 01, 2014 @ 5:55:11 PM
Reply

Someone has to defend these game, I mean just look at ben here he said that anyone here should not take my analysis on story but then again we are taking his someone who has not even beaten the game based on his latest post. I think ben your are the one that we shouldn't be taking seriously on your analysis on story considering that you haven't even played enough to judge.

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Lunar_Miyuki
Saturday, March 01, 2014 @ 11:29:47 PM
Reply

lets see you have modern day and med evil day settings which you go between
i honestly don't see a problem there

stealth parts what maybe theirs about 20 to 30 mins of stealth in the whole game not counting mess ups which force you to re try honestly theirs barely any stealth

transforming into a rat and Mist well Alucard had transforming in SOTN
platforming SOTN had 2d platforming this has 3d platforming

from what i played the game is fun my sis has already beat it
its actually a big improvement upon LOS1

i had a feeling somebody would complain about the minor details like short stealth lets take the Minotaur stealth for example

if you walk on leaves it will hear you honestly that took me about 8 minutes to complete with 2 re tries

and the modern day setting well that for me isn't a problem for me

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