by Mike Bendel on June 12, 2013 @ 11:31 pm
Mercury Steam’s first entry into the Castlevania series Lords of Shadow was a well-received hit, and the upcoming follow-up Lords of Shadow 2 looks to repeat that success. Based on my hands-on time with it at E3, Lords of Shadow 2 features tighter combat, more responsive controls, and a vastly improved frame rate over its predecessor.
The demo I played started off as a sort of tutorial, teaching players the fundamentals of the combat system inside an ominous cathedral. Players can fast switch between different weapons at will, consisting of the blood whip, sword, and fire-engulfed armlets. Each caters to different situations – for instance, the strength of the armlets is more effective against foes in a defensive position such as those holding up a shield. Enough blows will shatter a shield, leaving the aforementioned foe more vulnerable.
Like in the original Lords of Shadow, Mercury Steam has done a solid job of making combat situations feel tense. The game encourages players to stay on their toes and use all available skillsets at their disposal. With the amount of foes this game throws at players at once (sometimes up to six), having a responsive combat system is important and there’s no question the game delivers here.
The latter half of the demo was something fans of the original Lords of Shadow will be familiar with, a large-scale Titan fight. These are truly ‘epic’ boss battles that are broken up into multiple phases. This one in particular had players latch onto the arm of a gigantic golem-like creature. Beginning shortly after fending off a rather agile golden paladin, it involved scaling upward through a series of platform elements, as well as surviving enemy ambushes and avoiding projectiles from afar. As these fights can be rather lengthy, it’s convenient that checkpoints have been included so you don’t have to start from square one when dying.
Starring Dracula, Lords of Shadow 2 allows players to take advantage of vampiric powers, such as sucking the blood out of stunned or weakened enemies to regain some health. Evidently more abilities will become available as you progress through the game, though the demo did not cover these.
In the end, fans of the original Lords of Shadow will feel right at home with this sequel. The mechanic changes are refreshing enough for a sequel and make for some welcomed gameplay improvements, the free roam camera being a notable addition. Additionally, the rock-solid frame rate lends to a much smoother experience overall. Even if it wasn’t something that bothered you in Lords of Shadow 1, you’ll be hard pressed to not immediately notice the difference in fluidity. If the rest of the game holds up as well as the demo, Castlevania fans are in for a treat.
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