Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Review for PS3

On: PS3Xbox 360PC
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow screenshot
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow screenshot

It's not all hacking and slashing, with a fair amount of puzzles, mounts (the less said about the frankly creepy giant spiders the better) and platforming, each able to match the quality seen throughout the title. Puzzles arrive in a decent variety of styles, but generally require you to move items into a certain position, or to trigger switches in the right order. Scrolls on nearby bodies reveal clues and, if you really can't work out the solution, offer you the solution if you forfeit your reward. The platforming, which feels like a slightly heavier version of Prince of Persia, sees Gabriel leaping about on platforms and ledges, while his whip allows him to abseil up and down walls.

If there's a slight weakness here, it comes from the mounts. They're undeniably cool to ride, but their use becomes a little predictable and repetitive. You'll enter an area only to come across a wall or door that you can't break through on your own. This is game-speak for "a massive beast is around the corner and you're going to need to tame it in order to progress". It's not bad, due to the combat being fun, but after a while the repeated use of this mechanic felt a little lazy - especially in the face of a game that is otherwise brimming with ideas and incredible imagination.

It's not that video games have never gone down this fantasy route before - they definitely have - but CLOS sets out so with such impressive art design that every new location, every quirky enemy, and each surprisingly boss fight is a real delight. There are a few technical issues with the presentation, namely a slightly jagged appearance and the odd frame rate stumble, but these are minor blemishes on an otherwise incredibly well-realised world. Fans of gothic art and director Guillermo del Toro are in for a real treat.

It's clear that Konami has grand plans for Castlevania - you only have to look at the list of talent voicing the game's key characters to see that. Gabriel is played quite superbly by Robert Carlyle, while Patrick Stewart is perfect as Zobek - his chapter intros always setting the scene wonderfully. Other characters Gabriel encounters along the way all benefit from equally professional voice work, and the stunning orchestral soundtrack knows just when it's needed.

Calling CLOS a surprise hit might be a little unfair, as the game looked impressive throughout development, but it's fair to say that I simply didn't expect to enjoy it this much. With a combat system that cleverly overcomes button mashing, wonderful design work and a story that spans far longer than your average video game, Lords of Shadow is exactly what the Castlevania franchise needed to find popularity with a new generation of gamers - and us oldies too.

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BLAZER's Avatar

BLAZER

I wish it would have released on pc.
Posted 08:37 on 19 December 2010
reynoldio's Avatar

reynoldio@ clangod

Agree entirely Clangod, I enjoyed the demo very much and will certainly be purchasing. Hack'n'slash is what it is and when you get one with a great story and some crazy scenes then it's a few hours enjoyably bashing that controller :)
Posted 11:23 on 02 October 2010
clangod's Avatar

clangod

I tried the demo this morning and in a word, I'm "impressed". Looks great, plays well and from the snippet you get there is every indication that epicness is abound in C:LoS.

I see as commented on in the review that the combat could be a bit simplistic but I guess that's a common trait of the hack 'n' slash genre. The highlight here is clearly the visuals. Looks like a story I could get into. This might be a purchase after all.
Posted 10:11 on 02 October 2010
AWilke's Avatar

AWilke

It's really refreshing to read an article from a website that isn't necessarily "huge" popularity wise. You can still pick up on the overwhelming excitement Tom has for this game and any games really. While on websites like gamespot, ign, etc. they tend to nit pick and forget about the whole point of video games, fun. Anyways, great review. Been looking forward to this game since the reveal trailer nearly a year and a half ago. Can't wait to play it.
Posted 04:51 on 02 October 2010
clangod's Avatar

clangod

I don't think this would be something I'd normaly consider a purchase but there seems like there's plenty of fun on offer here. Interesting read. I'll keep an eye out for this...
Posted 23:57 on 30 September 2010
TomO's Avatar

TomO@ scaz2244

There's a lot to find once you're done with the campaign, as certain items can only be accessed with abilities gained later on in the game. Replay value depends on if you want to collect everything. Even if that doesn't interest you, the first run through should take at least 15 hours, but probably more like 20.
Posted 09:19 on 30 September 2010
scaz2244's Avatar

scaz2244

sounds really good might have to give it a rent and see how meaty the single player is, if dont complete going to buy.
great review tom quick question does it have any replabillity?
Posted 00:52 on 30 September 2010
Wido's Avatar

Wido@ reynoldio

Likewise. However it did drop down the pecking order as of other games coming into the spotlight. With not much info about the game, that where it started to decline for me. After reading this review, C:LoS is now firmly back up there. I will be getting this over Vanquish now. Vanquish will be a January pick up. Still got Fable 3 and Fallout: New Vegas to see whether it beats NFS: Hot Pursuit. I got a feeling that it will be Fable 3, and New Vegas will be obtained in the summer of the next year.
Posted 07:58 on 29 September 2010
reynoldio's Avatar

reynoldio

This one's been on the list from the day I first saw it, just looks epic and I do like a good bit of epic every now and again. The fact that it has a little bit of everything and does it all really well is the icing on the cake.
Posted 23:07 on 28 September 2010
jase_ace_uk's Avatar

jase_ace_uk@ Bloodstorm

Hideo Kojima?? I never knew he was developing this game. I will defo have to get this game now. There are so many good games coming out!!!!!!
Posted 15:40 on 28 September 2010
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Excellent review Tom. I really do want this. I like the preview what Tim did. I need another hack & slash into my routine. Not had any hack & slash since completing God Of War 3.

Simply getting this.
Posted 14:46 on 28 September 2010
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

It's Kojima doing a castlevania game, how on earth is it a surprise hit?
Posted 14:34 on 28 September 2010
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Surprise hit then...er...no, it's no good, I need to call it a Surprise Hit because it is! :)

Looks great.
Posted 14:32 on 28 September 2010
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius

I wasn't expecting much from this I now want it!
Posted 14:16 on 28 September 2010

Game Stats

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
9
Out of 10
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
  • Epic adventure
  • Combat requires thought
  • Gorgeous art design
  • Slight repetition when using mounts
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 08/10/2010
Platforms: PS3 , Xbox 360 , PC
Developer: Mercury Steam
Publisher: Konami
Genre: Action
Rating: PEGI 16+
Site Rank: 3,168
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