E3 2013: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (Hands-On)

by: Matt -
     It's hard to talk about Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 without getting in to spoiler territory. The whole game predicates on the events of the first Lords of Shadow game, and you really need to know the story to even understand the how or why of Gabriel's tragic tale. The cliffhanger ending to the first game set up for some amazing potential in a sequel, and after getting a chance to play it on the show floor, I can only hope that Mercury Steam can deliver on the precarious concept they laid before them. I apologize for being vague, but the original Lords of Shadow contains some of the best storytelling in gaming and I'd hate to be the one to ruin it for you, dear reader.

     Castlevania: Lords of Shadow felt very similar to the God of War games when it was released, and Lords of Shadow 2 doesn't stray too far from the gameplay set forth in the original game. The combat in the E3 demo felt like it had been adjusted to close some of the gaps that the original title seemed to encourage a little too often. Ranged attacks don't seem to reach as far as before, and the weapons present in the demo were more suited for close quarters brawling. Gabriel has access to a weapon of light, the void sword, that drains life from enemies, and powerful gauntlets that smash enemy defenses. Combat felt tight and satisfying, especially when I supped the blood of my enemies after weakening them.

    The demo also contained plenty of platforming elements that were present in the first Lords of Shadow. Gabriel is tasked with climbing in many situations, and I don't know if it is because the TV brightness settings were really low or not, but the areas where I could climb and the objects that could potentially stop me were really poorly highlighted, so I was constantly falling. Thankfully the game is somewhat forgiving and contains a number of checkpoints for these climbing areas. What I was climbing in this instance was a giant mechanical golem that I was smashing the castle that Gabriel resides in. Along with the golem I had to contend with a knight, dressed in golden armor, taking pot shots at me during my climb. But his explosive bolts served to be his undoing, as I was able to use his weapon to destroy portions of the giant golem. 

    Visually this game is looking gorgeous, my only request to the guys at Mercury Steam, fixed your framerate. Please get it to at least a solid thirty frames per second, that was my biggest complaint about the original Lords of Shadow. The demo certainly felt like it had the framerate locked in, but there was still the occasional stutter. Considering how good this game looks though, I am incredibly surprised the game runs as well as it does. The audio featured the voice of one Sir Patrick Stewart who reprises his role as Zobek from the original Lords of Shadow.

    My time with the demo was unfortunately cut short due to me being the last person to check out the booth that day, but what I played certainly felt great. My biggest concerns are mostly laid to rest already after the short demo, with the only lingering concern I have being the story. I was incredibly surprised by the direction of the ending of the first game, so I can only hope that Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 has an equally amazing story. I guess we'll find out when the game is released this coming Winter.

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