COLUMN: Aaron’s Backstage Pass: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 PS3 Review

Updated: 03/14/2014 1:29 PM By: Aaron Chalich

Photo courtesy of Konami
Photo courtesy of Konami

One of the very first games that I owned for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was Konami’s “Castlevania.”  I actually pretended that I was sick for a few days, so I could stay home and play it.

“Castlevania” was released in 1986, and you played as Simon Belmont and whip-wielding hero who was on a quest to destroy Dracula.  Along the way, he fought giant bats, mummies, crows, and even the Grim Reaper.

Since 1986 there have been many “Castlevania” games released by Konami, and they are all great in my opinion.

This past weekend, I got the opportunity to play a review copy of Konami’s “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2” for the PS3, and it is awesome.

This is the best “Castlevania” game in the series in my opinion.

 In the first five minute of playing, you are instantly thrown into an intense battle that absolutely blew me away.  There is a short, in-game tutorial that explains how to control Gabriel and how to use some of his special abilities.  The tutorial is very helpful and lasts a few minutes, then you are immediately engaged in combat with a Paladin, while you are climbing up a giant Siege Titan that is also trying to destroy you.

I really liked the story a lot, and I know fans of the “Castlevania” series will also.

You play as Gabriel Belmont who is now Dracula.  It has been several years since the events that took place in “Lords of Shadow” and Gabriel has just woken up.  A mysterious man named Zobek visits Gabriel and tells him that Satan is going to be coming back.  Gabriel is the only one strong enough to stop Satan, and he must try and get his powers back.

The graphics in “Castlevania: Lords of Shadows 2” are amazing.  Gabriel and all of the characters look amazing.  The monsters and creatures are creepy and are extremely detailed.  The background in each level looks great, and you really feel like you are in a gloomy castle or a dark ally.  The graphic designers and artists did a fabulous job.

The animations and cut scenes also look great.  They flow smoothly and look wonderful.

The music is awesome and I feel it really gives “Lords of Shadow 2” a very creepy and eerie feel while you are playing.

The characters in “Lords of Shadow 2” are voiced by celebrities such as Robert Carlyle (Dracula) Patrick Steward (Zobek), Richard Madden (Alucard), Stuart Campbell (Trevor) Natasha McElhone (Marie) and Anthony Howell (Vincent).  The characters sound great, and the actors did an amazing job with their characters.

Controlling Gabriel is extremely easy.  He has many different abilities and moves that he can learn.  Like I mentioned earlier, there is a brief, in-game tutorial that explains how to attack, dodge, block, jump, or activate his chaos claws and sword void.  Plus whenever Gabriel learns a new abilities, words will come on the screen and will explain what buttons you will need to push, so that is very helpful.

If Gabriel attacks enimies, they will eventually become stunned.  If you push the “O” button, you can drink their blood, and this will fill up your magic and energy gauges.

Gabriel uses a lot of magic abilities.  He can use dark magic and can use his chaos claws to destroy heavily-armored enemies or he can throw shadow daggers.   When Gabriel uses his light magic, he can activate his sword void, and this will give Gabriel health whenever he inflicts damage on a monster or enemy.  Each of these powers has a meter and will deplete as you use them, and you can refill them by drinking the blood of monsters and enemies.

On neat feature is that if you press “L2” when you are climbing the path that you can go will be highlighted.  I thought that this was great, because you can see an outline of the spots you will need to grab or jump to.

As you defeat enemies and monsters Gabriel will gain experience points.  He can use the experience points to upgrade his skills and combos.  If you pause the game you will bring up the “travel book.”  In the travel book you can see your inventory, powers, lore, map of the area, weapons and this is where you can use your experience points to upgrade your skills.

You can look at each of the skills and there is a very nice explanation of what each one does.  Plus there is a really cool-looking sketch animation of what that skill will do. 

The lore in the travel book is very interesting and when you come across a new character or monster it is added to your travel book.  You can see a really neat illustration of the character and a very detailed description of it.

I really thought that Konami’s “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2” was awesome.  I really enjoy the “Castlevania” series a lot, and I think that “Lords of Shadow 2” is one of the best games in the series.  The story is exciting and the music is great.  The graphics are awesome.  The bosses and creatures are very detailed and look creepy and frightening.  I also really enjoyed using all of Gabriel’s powers and abilities.  This is a very well-balanced game, and I know fans of the “Castlevania” series are really going to enjoy “Lords of Shadow 2” a lot.

“Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2” is rated “M” for Blood and gore, intense violence, language, and nudity.

Aaron Chalich is a entertainment columnist.