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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

The other week, Konami sent me a copy of the new Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Collection for review. I’ve been taking my time with it since I never finished either game that comes with it before passing judgement of any kind. Today I broke down and went through the demo of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 that comes with it. I was hopeful that it would fix some of the problems the first entry had, and in some ways, it did.

The demo introduces your character, Dracula, the Prince of Darkness. The view shows off the gothic cathedral that immediately reminded me of Devil May Cry. The camera and visuals flow smoothly, unlike in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow where they were a little on the choppy side. Things are interrupted by a pounding at the door, and the start of the tutorial that gives the basic game play directions on the screen or you to perform yourself. When you do, the door shatters, and a large mobile battering room allows men in uniform to enter the castle, proclaiming your downfall. The good news about all this though, you’re out of blood and thirsty.

From here it’s your typical Beat ’em Up style game play. Wave after wave of enemies attack, and the new features are shown off. You get a sword that steals life from your enemies when you hit them, though the blue radiance when it swings makes it impossible to see if your foe is getting ready to attack. There’s also a fiery punch that can break shields. You also learn how to drink the blood of your victims, which is done through by grabbing the stunned/glowing opponent and pressing it again when the circles line up. Then there’s the block and dodge maneuvers, which will be familiar to those who played the first entry. Both special attacks set up to the left and right bumper, as well as never deplete. Don’t get too accustomed to having unlimited resources, though. Chances are good they will be limited in the final product.

When all is done and the humans are dispatched, you push the large object out the door, which causes the support to crumble and block your way back in. But there’s more going on outside. You need to climb out through the main door of the castle, learning how to jump from ledges and hooks once more, as well as how the left trigger showing the path. Sadly, it doesn’t always work, and definitely would help during the Titan battle that is coming.

Once outside, you see a war is being waged on your castle by the humans, and a large crude robotic structure is trying to destroy it. There is a soldier waiting for you. Clad in gold armor and wielding two swords, he becomes your next opponent as the machine continues to destroy everything around you. About half way through the warriors life bar, he escapes on the arm of the large behemoth, leaving you to jump the gap in order to follow. This leads to more battles against knights, and jumping to avoid the vibrations when the arm you stand on strikes your home again and again until you’re stuck holding on by the tried-and-true method of pressing a button when the circles line up instead of cross like in the first game.

Eventually you can climb up the arm, giving way to move waves of enemies, and the golden armored human shooting arrows. From here, you’re basically just climbing the Titan, fighting troops, and opening blocked pathways. This goes on for a long time, and gets pretty boring rather quick. Eventually you reach the the last barricade in your path. You trick the warrior into shooting its explosive arrows on the pegs holding it down so you can open it and trigger a cut-scene. Dracula has found the power source and spews black bile to disable it. The machine falls about, taking out some troops below it.

After the madness, ou find yourself back on the ground. The gold armored individual stands before you once more. Dracula is ready to finish the fight that a good ten, fifteen minutes of climbing led up to. The tension builds, and before that climactic battle, the demo ends. You’re given text incentives about the story, and then are informed the game will drop in February of 2014, being urged to pre-order now, which stays on the screen a long while before finally fading to the last thing this trial throws your way.

If you don’t exit out, you’re greeted to a quick trailer. Visually it’s amazing and really asserts the dark gothic atmosphere once more. Of course, there’s nothing that new other than someone who stands opposed to Dracula at the end. In fact, this video is the battle you just went through, but on a far more epic scale than what is set to be in the game.

Based on the demo, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 looks like a sleeker, smoother version of the first title. The additional powers are a nice touch, and playing as Dracula is always a plus to help make it feel like a change of pace. But, if you didn’t like the titan battles last time, the one in the tutorial only confirms that they are far more grand this time around, and have a lot more climbing involved. It was so large that it actually got really boring due to the lack of action. While the demo shows a grander, more refined experience in what is said to be the conclusion to the series, it just isn’t that impressive other than highlighting the visual upgrades. For a fan of the Castlevania franchise since the first entry on the Nintendo Entertainment System and Arcade cabinet, it’s just not strong enough to sell a sixty dollar game.

Hopefully another demo highlighting more than the tutorial will be released before the game drops this February.

Physical review material for this article provided by Konami.