master_prophet's Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (Xbox 360) review

Welcome to Castlevania: Reboot.

Let's get this out of the way: "Castlevania: Lords of Shadow" is not a perfect game.  It has it's moments of weakness, like all games.  However, I propose to you this...what game is perfect?  I mean, seriously?  
I am a diehard Castlevania fan, and have been ever since Simon Belmont started swinging his whip at Dracula on the nes.  I've been there through the good (Symphony of the Night, Super Castlevania IV) and I've been there for the bad (Curse of Darkness, Judgment).  Hell, I even liked Castlevania 64, albeit it was a very flawed game.  So when I saw the original reveal trailer for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow during last year's E3, I was floored.  Finally, it seemed as if someone was actually going to get my favorite video game series of all time correct.  And having Hideo Kojima helping out, not a bad idea at all. 
Sure many will peg Lords of Shadow as nothing more then a "god of war" clone.  But what many people seem to fail to realize is that, before "God of War" came along, there were other action games.  Sure, that series redefined the action games, no one is going to deny that .  However, to say that "God of War" is the end all to action games is nothing more then an understatement. 
I would actually argue with you that I enjoyed every minute of Lords of Shadow more then God of War III.  Granted, I'll be a bit biased being a huge Castlevania fan, but still.   
Lords of Shadow starts off randomly.  Rather then thrust you into to the story by explaining why Gabriel is on the quest that he's on, it's told to you through narration's at the begging of each chapter by none other the Patrick Stewart.  Stewart plays Zobek, whom is kind of your mentor throughout the game.  Your character, Gabriel Belmont, is voiced by Robert Carlyle.  I have to say, one of the most impressive aspects of Lords of Shadow is the top notch quality voice acting.  No one feels out of place here. 
If there is one word I could describe Lords of Shadow with though, it would be Epic.  I mean, to the point of out doing the epic nature of all of the God of War games.  Lords of Shadow combines the epic nature of Shadow of the Collosus, God of War, and even at times the 2Dish yet 3Dish side scrolling of older Castlevania games, yet newer games in that same vein, like Shadow Complex.   
Not to mention, my biggest thing here is that, Thank God, someone finally decided to make a game with some length around it.  It seems like all the games coming out these days try to push some terrible multiplayer component, which makes the single player game turn out to be shorter then it really should be.  Lords of Shadow doesn't do that at all.  It took me about Twenty-Five hours to complete Lords of Shadow on the normal difficulty.  Granted, I spent a bit of time searching for some things, but still.  That's a damn long game for today's day and age.  Not to mention, the 360 version is spread onto two discs, something that rarely happens on any system anymore. 
But the biggest thing that I've seen here in the gripes about this game is that it doesn't feel like a "Castlevania" game.  Well, after spending as much time with Lords of Shadow as I have, I can tell you that there wasn't a single moment where I doubted that this game was a Castlevania game.  Sure it starts out in a forest like area that is very reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, but here's a few things I'll point out to all the naysayers about this game that make it a Castlevania game:
-The main character's last name is Belmont
 -He uses a whip like device called the "combat cross"
-You fight, amongst vampires and werewolfs, at one point, smaller werewolfs ridiing bigger werewolf's
-Chapter's 7 and 8 are almost exclusively about scaling the walls of a giant castle. 
-Carmilla is in this game
-I won't spoil when, but at one point you will hear the original Castlevania theme
-Secondary weapons include daggers and holy water
I mean come on people!  Those points right there define Castlevania.  So what if it's a bit different?  It's a REBOOT!!!!  That's what it was designed to do, freshly start this series.  
Boss battles are done excellent, there really isn't much to rag on here.  The one complaint I will point out is that, at times, even I saw it too, there are framerate issues.  Nothing here that should put you off on playing this otherwise excellent game, but 
at times it can bog down pretty roughly.  I didn't notice this until the very second to last level of the game. 
And the biggest and best surprise here is the end of this game.  My hats off to you Konami and Mercurysteam, for having the balls to do what you've done here.  Not only is the after-credit-roll CGI scene ballsy, but it excites me to see where this new reboot series goes.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is the reason why we play games.  We want to be immeresed in an epic tale.  I was so blown away and impressed with Lords of Shadow, that there is no doubt on my mind that it is the best 3D Castlevania, but this could very well be the game of the year.  
Don't skip Lords of Shadow. 


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