Review: Castlevania Lords of Shadow (PC)

I’m not too familiar with the Castlevania series as a whole, but when I played 2010’s Castlevania: Lords of Shadow last year, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the game. Now, nearly three years after release, Konami has decided to once again support the PC platform by bringing their popular titles over, with Lords of Shadow being one of the first. I’m not gonna get into the game’s mechanics or story all too much, because Jorge already covered that in his review, but I will be addressing the quality of the port and my own opinions on the overall experience.

PC ports of console games can be a scary thing due to a wealth of shoddy ports or a lack of optimization seen even from the biggest publishers. Thankfully, Lords of Shadow developer Mercury Steam and Climax Studios have developed quite the fine port. Lords of Shadow runs exceptionally well on my rig [Intel Core i5 3570k, Sapphire Radeon HD 7970, 8GB DDR3-1600], maintaining a constant 60FPS while at max settings. A downside one graphic enthusiast can find here is that the graphic settings are somewhat limited. The only advanced graphic options available are shadow quality, anti-aliasing (low, high, max), anisotropic filtering (off, 2x-16x), and ambient occlusion. These options are limited, but the game manages to run well while looking pretty (minus a few jaggy looking cutscenes).

Now, for my personal opinion on the game itself. I quite enjoy what Lords of Shadow has to offer. While the combat is enthralling and filled with options and combos, and environments wonderfully crafted and beautiful to look at, the game suffers from a dull protagonist. Gabriel Belmont is a tragic figure, one that seeks to stop the dark forces that invaded his home and reclaim the life of his deceased wife through revenge, but his plight is never fully expressed to the player.

Mercury Steam underdeveloped Gabriel’s emotional journey by rarely having him express himself verbally and visually within the game. Instead, we’re given narrations by companion Zobek (played by Patrick Stewart) on Gabriel’s state of mind and descent into rage and anguish. Voiced by film and television actor Robert Carlyle, I expected much more gravitas in Gabriel’s performance. If there’s one thing I desperately want to see in the sequel, it’s an improvement in the character depth of the protagonist.

As much as I like the overall game, starting Lords of Shadow from the beginning feels like a chore. The first two hours of the game are pedantic and disjointed. Early levels don’t share the same balance between puzzles, platforming, and combat that later levels do, and the two Shadow of the Colossus-esque boss battles feel grossly uninspired. Thankfully, these unappealing levels of the game are overshadowed by the lump sum of the experience. Now, this is not to say that the game is devoid of repetition; there are few tedious recurring obstacles littered across the game that don’t feel necessary.

If you’ve yet to play Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, and have a capable gaming PC, it’s hard not to recommend this version. The game comes with the two DLC packs “Reverie” and “Resurrection”–epilogue chapters that give some context to Gabriel’s role in Lords of Shadow 2. Which is good, considering the game’s vanilla ending lacks an explanation on an important plot element that the sequel follows. Lords of Shadow is already quite the lengthy game, clocking upwards to 20 hours or more. With the DLC chapters included, the game’s length reaches an impressive and exhausting amount.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ultimate Edition is leap in the right direction for Konami. Not only did they faithfully bring over a great game to the PC, but they included all of the DLC and sold it for a decent asking price of $30. There’s not much of an incentive to buy the game over again, unless you’re itching for 60FPS and clearer visuals, but this release is well worth it for those looking to finally jump into the Lords of Shadow saga in time for the finale later this year.

8.5/10

               
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COMMENTS

  • drachehexe

    You are right that the first areas are a chore. I am bored to tears. It seems the developers are more interested in showing you what they did with their time instead of letting you enjoy yours.

    I have been playing the game for about an hour and a half and have actually only controlled Gabriel for like 5 minutes. For ever one minute of you actually having control there is 4 minutes of cutscenes. Indeed there is a lot that seems unnecessary, like taking 30 seconds to move 5 feet through the bog parts. And I can’t say the fixed camera angle helps win me over, nor does the incessant use of quicktime events in combat.

    As it stands for one hour’s worth of watching cutscenes and the devs trying their best to make my ability to progress as slow as possible I regret paying money for this game.

    I really don’t want to go through anymore of this game. The devs have so little confidence in the player that they take more control of the game than you do and what you do do is, well, boring, limited, and made to test your patience.

    If this is the kind of game console players get and expect and enjoy it’s no wonder why console ports seldom sell so well. I will say it looks good and runs well for a port, sadly it’s just not that interesting of a game.

    • luigiix

      I mostly agree with you. Indeed, this game has serious identity crisis. They obviously wanted to appeal to every single gamer out there, while taking out virtually everything that the series is known for. Personally i enjoyed it for what it was but as a Castlevania game it greatly dissapointed me. Here’s hoping that LoS2 will provide a more focused experience.

      • drachehexe

        Well, I am going to give it a fair chance. If I can adapt myself to its peculiar style I might find myself enjoying it. The combat is fun enough and CJ did mention puzzles which I look forward to, so it still may be salvageable experience.

        • Trust me, it gets much more refined as you move forward.

        • luigiix

          Yeah, the game does gets better around chapter 4. I have to say though, i didn’t like the story at all ):

  • Titanbelmont

    I will never undestand why people complain about this game, i’m a big fan of this franchise since so many years; i have played SOTN, Super castlevania 4, ps2 castlevania’s ,all gameboy advance castlevania’s, rondo of blood, etc… and i started playing this game with so many doubts in my head about that GOW gameplay, but then i get inmerssive on the game, damn a true masterpiece and maybe one of the best castlevania’s i’ever played, yes i know lack about a lot of things from old games, but this is a truly great game i only have to say thanks to konami for giving us this game on the pc.

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