Castlevania: Lord of Shadows Review

I reviewed Castlevania: Lord of Shadows for the PS3, developed by Mercury Stream and published by Konami.

[Story] Gabriel Belmont voice acted by Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, 28 Weeks later, Stargate, Trainspotting) , plays a member of the Brotherhood of Light , a group of Holy Knights who defend and protect people against supernatural creatures. Marie, Gabriel’s wife (Natascha McElhone) was murdered by one of the supernatural creatures. She is trapped between both worlds (Heaven and Hell) and she needs Gabriel to set her soul free. She is a guide throughout the game to help Gabriel achieve his destiny. His goal is to travel to the destroyed land and slay three great evils of the Lord of Shadows. You meet other characters one is named Zobek who is voiced by none other than Sir Patrick Stewart (X-Men, Star Trek: Voyager) who incidentally is also the narrator. There are two masks known as the Devil and God masks that are entwined in the plot. Gabriel seeks to piece together the God Mask in an attempt to bring back his dead wife. Little does he know what dangerous secrets await him. The story was well done even if takes a little to get into don’t just drop it after the first chapter.

[Gameplay] The combat system in the game gives me a very Bayonetta feel for the dodging that can cancel out any simple attacks. I quite enjoyed the battle system a lot more than God of War 3’s because of the skills you can buy with exp. You use a cross that has a whip attached to it which does remind me of the Blades of Exile in God of War 3. BUT and this a big but the extreme variety of skill moves you can buy in the game make the combat seem fresh rather than just constant button mashing that make your thumbs hurt with agony. I enjoyed using light and shadow magic because you can combine your simple attacks and heavy attacks with the magic which opens up more choices to defeat enemies. I especially enjoyed the Holy Cross attack which I saw a similar move in Dante’s Inferno’s teaser trailer where you summon a bright shining light with your cross which makes your enemies burn in the light. This move will become extremely useful for the vampires you face. Unlike most 2D Castlevania games this game is not a platformer, it is a hack and slash and very linear though you do have some room for exploration to find gems to upgrade your health, light and shadow magic bars. The thing that I especially liked in the game was the puzzle aspect the puzzles in the game at times were extremely challenging and clever. You had the option of a hint but where’s the fun in that? The only complaints I had were the camera sometimes became a nuisance when you were in enclosed spaces and the camera would not help you find where to go next like it would in God of War series.

[Presentation] The way the game is presented is one of the reasons why I enjoyed the game so much. The scenery they have in the game is really well done graphics wise. Unlike most Castlevania games this takes place not just in the Castle which is funny since the name is Castlevania but don’t let that make you frown upon the change in locale. You visit besieged towns, forests, castles, deserts. And all the locations are very interesting. The Graphics for the overall game is pretty good. The player models are mediocre but the scenery is extremely pretty which makes you not care about the characters. The soundtrack they choose for the game is an orchestra style. Unlike the 16-bit in the old Castlevania’s I do not think the soundtrack was bad though for a soundtrack which included a lot of songs most of them sounded very repetitive. Though the boss battle music never got old I still think a little more variety should have been chosen for the soundtrack. And I also want to add how I liked the camera in the different environments when you were in rain you would have raindrops on the camera and in the snow you get a frostbitten camera which made me get a cool “oooo and awweee” effect.

All in all I quite enjoyed this game I pre-ordered it and played through it getting about half the trophies. The trophies in the game are challenging since you have to complete trials to get most of them. I give Castlevania an 8.4/10: 7.5 story, 9 combat, 8 presentation. I strongly recommend this game to people who enjoy hack and slash’s though most old school Castlevania fans will be annoyed by the lack of free exploration. But that doesn’t mean all old school Castlevania fans shouldn’t give this a chance it might shock you about how polished the game is.

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Alpha Protocol Review!

Alpha Protocol, the new espionage rpg released by Obsidian games and co-developed and published by Sega in June,1, 2010. Obsidian games known well for Knights of the Republic 2 and known for a developers of game sequels and RPG’s. I was quite surprised that Obsidian was going to make a game of their own that wasn’t a sequel with their own original concept and direction. Luckily for me I manage to scoop this game on Clearance on the PC for less than 20 dollars at an Local target. Well after completing the game right away I share my experiences with it on the PC and some console experience of it.

[Story] The story of the Alpha Protocol is centered around the main protagonist Mike Thorton. Who is lured in the secret organization from the game title “Alpha Protocol” which is private group of intelligence gathering and espionage with no links to any country’s forces and such. You start out in the story on top secret mission when you find out your own organization was lying to you and betrays you. So you are presumed Dead and now working for Alpha Protocol getting helped with your ally Mina Tang. Micheal Thorton, the main character you can make him as you want him too. Whether you choose his involvement in the story as Bad ass professional, Suave sweet talker, an Elitist, or a funny ass douchebag. Which whatever you try to make him in the story I have a feeling he’s mainly a narcissitic  two dimensional character the developers had in mind even though that sounds negative it actually kind of funny. Mina Tang the other character who is besides you is an intelligent supporting character who is sometimes blunt and feministic at times. As the game’s motto says “Choice is your weapon” you choose your involvement in the game with dialogue options which you can decide how you want to play it. Decide your allies and choice option in the games. For that aside I will explain the gameplay more later on. Overall the game story is very cliche and unoriginal something I’ve probably seen a hundred times. Cheesey dialogues, Cheesey characters and funny scripting. This game isn’t serious to be honest and it’s has so many puns it’s funny.

[Graphics] Alpha Protocol features the Unreal Engine 3.0 one of the popular engines that developers use. The graphics of this game seems far apart from this other current generation games by a lot. The architectures is pretty decent but the levels seem nicely decorated but you notice that the textures are undetailed. Look far away you notice just a slab of color and not much done to it and when you go closely you might notice some little texture but it seems like they didn’t go back and make this more detailed with the 3.0 engine. There isn’t really any dynamic lighting as you can see they put random lights and glow and added some motion blur when you move to make it look fast and cover up the minor details they did. Character models are decent atleast in models and facial expressions during dialogues and movements. A better job could of been done better for this project…

[Gameplay] As a game putting Espionage RPG below their title, the game is mainly a 3rd person action shooter than an RPG. The Role playing elements come from dialogue choices on making your decisions and character relationships you try to make. Where you select how you want to respond base on what emotion such as Suave, Professional, threat, casual and so forth. They don’t display a whole sentece reply so most of the time you don’t know what thorton is going to say up his sleaves. As from playing the game It’s mostly going to be a cheesey heroic line or a very big pun… As for the other RPG element you get costumizations options on changing thortons look, equipment and upgrades for leveling each time. One problem is customizations is limited and small and weapons end up looking the same. You choose Thortons fighting history as a Soldier, Spy and such to create a pre skill tree for him in stats. As for the action part it’s mostly a shooter more or less where you engage mission after mission running and gunning, the game doesn’t really structure the AI well too play stealthy. So picking the spy class isn’t going to work well. The Ai sometimes will just find you automatically , shoot you, run back or appear out of no where at times. It features some mini games for hacking and lock picking where in hacking you find corresponding codes in sets of letters or find a circuit by order and number and locking picking you move the joints to corresponding lines to unlock a box or so. Missions are fun at first but gets repetitive fast as possible. Boss fights are usually the same as the Boss runs behind guards and in circles to draw you of course you just gun them down.

[Sound] Voice acting is so far decent and not bad. I enjoyed Thorton’s voice as he gives out his puns, sarcasm and flirtacious remarks. Although the dialogue conversations can get long sometimes and they will just say random things to keep it going you can skip by pressing the mouse button. The tones of most characters are just like cartoony and not serious most of the time. I wouldn’t say monotone but not really an emotionally acted out.

So for the score Im going to give this is a 7/10!

Though I’m being a bit lenient I guess it was kind of fun but repetitive. But it did have some pretty funny diaologues that me laugh and the characters were funny to me. If your up to a cliche story action game but don’t care for story or repetitive game play, check out Alpha Protocol!