Reviewing a game for what it isn't rather than what it is.

So the reviews for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow are starting to come in.  The two I've read from the main online outlets (IGN and Gamespot) are both ironically the same in tone and score.  They rail against the fact that it's devoid of the identity the franchise has, and that it offers nothing fans of the series are expecting from a Castlevania game.  One even goes so far as stating that aside from werewolves, vampires, ghosts and a spooky atmosphere, it has nothing to do with Castlevania.  Then what, may I ask is left of Castlevania if you don't include those?  Isn't the series all about those things?  One review goes on and says that it has much more in common with God of War than Castlevania.  Isn't Castlevania about traversing huge environments while using your whip to occasionally swing from place to place, then fighting an unending legion of enemies, getting new weapons and abilities, gaining health and magic from destroyed objects, and fighting the occasional boss?  That sounds like God of War to me.  So basically because it's not 2D it's not Castlevania.
 
We all would love a new 2D Castlevania done in the style of Shadow Complex and BC: Rearmed, but hating on a game that isn't it "just because" isn't very professional, or fair to the game.  Leave your bias out of the review and stick to what you like and dislike about the game.  Feel free to blog or tweet or whatever about how you don't think it's a "real" Castlevania game.
 
This game reminds me of Darksiders, a game that borrowed aspects of other successful series and combined them into a fun game with it's own identity.  I just hope that people can look past the desire for a 2D game and accept it as the return of Castlevania as a modern action adventure game on current consoles.

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Posted by DukeTogo

So the reviews for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow are starting to come in.  The two I've read from the main online outlets (IGN and Gamespot) are both ironically the same in tone and score.  They rail against the fact that it's devoid of the identity the franchise has, and that it offers nothing fans of the series are expecting from a Castlevania game.  One even goes so far as stating that aside from werewolves, vampires, ghosts and a spooky atmosphere, it has nothing to do with Castlevania.  Then what, may I ask is left of Castlevania if you don't include those?  Isn't the series all about those things?  One review goes on and says that it has much more in common with God of War than Castlevania.  Isn't Castlevania about traversing huge environments while using your whip to occasionally swing from place to place, then fighting an unending legion of enemies, getting new weapons and abilities, gaining health and magic from destroyed objects, and fighting the occasional boss?  That sounds like God of War to me.  So basically because it's not 2D it's not Castlevania.
 
We all would love a new 2D Castlevania done in the style of Shadow Complex and BC: Rearmed, but hating on a game that isn't it "just because" isn't very professional, or fair to the game.  Leave your bias out of the review and stick to what you like and dislike about the game.  Feel free to blog or tweet or whatever about how you don't think it's a "real" Castlevania game.
 
This game reminds me of Darksiders, a game that borrowed aspects of other successful series and combined them into a fun game with it's own identity.  I just hope that people can look past the desire for a 2D game and accept it as the return of Castlevania as a modern action adventure game on current consoles.

Posted by VoodooTerror

a bad game is a bad game! simple

Posted by SethPhotopoulos
Posted by TheFreeMan

Forsooth, I too grow weary of such criticisms. God of War was basically a 3D Castlevania, gameplay wise, so this is Castlevania....with the Castlevania theme of exotic gothic stuff. Verily, the point of a game's level of "derivitiveness" was cast out with the releases of such fun and critically lauded games as Darksiders and Uncharted 2. The profession is plentiful with overwrought, pretentious jackanapes, says I.

Posted by kishan6
@DukeTogo said:
" So the reviews for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow are starting to come in.  The two I've read from the main online outlets (IGN and Gamespot) are both ironically the same in tone and score.  They rail against the fact that it's devoid of the identity the franchise has, and that it offers nothing fans of the series are expecting from a Castlevania game.  One even goes so far as stating that aside from werewolves, vampires, ghosts and a spooky atmosphere, it has nothing to do with Castlevania.  Then what, may I ask is left of Castlevania if you don't include those?  Isn't the series all about those things?  One review goes on and says that it has much more in common with God of War than Castlevania.  Isn't Castlevania about traversing huge environments while using your whip to occasionally swing from place to place, then fighting an unending legion of enemies, getting new weapons and abilities, gaining health and magic from destroyed objects, and fighting the occasional boss?  That sounds like God of War to me.  So basically because it's not 2D it's not Castlevania.  We all would love a new 2D Castlevania done in the style of Shadow Complex and BC: Rearmed, but hating on a game that isn't it "just because" isn't very professional, or fair to the game.  Leave your bias out of the review and stick to what you like and dislike about the game.  Feel free to blog or tweet or whatever about how you don't think it's a "real" Castlevania game.  This game reminds me of Darksiders, a game that borrowed aspects of other successful series and combined them into a fun game with it's own identity.  I just hope that people can look past the desire for a 2D game and accept it as the return of Castlevania as a modern action adventure game on current consoles. "
i generally agree 
personally i think darksiders was away more original than LoS but ya its bullshit to review games like this 
Posted by Sigwood

I find it funny that the reviews are all like, hey, this isn't Castlevania, and yet the very first Castlevania was linear level by level and you didn't have XP or find new weapons (except sub-weapons) etc etc.  This Castlevania isn't like Symphony of the Night but it is more like old school Castlevania I think.  But that's just my opinion of course.

Posted by phantomzxro
@DukeTogo:  
 
I find that your messing the point in the reviews i can't say for gamespot but i think that the adventure part of castlevania is the heart of the game and it is the weakest point of the game. I don't think that lowers the rating of the game just is a note in the review for people who are not informed and are expecting a castlevania game. I just feel the game has a hard time standing out because it is a very by the book action game. Granted it is very pretty and well crafted game.
Posted by ryanwho

I don't get the idea of calling something Castlevania then not making it Castlevania. On the other hand, if its just an alternate universe offshoot and not a wholesale replacement, I really don't care if they try and make a "God of War? Me too!" game. If they acted like this was some kind of ultimate culmination of the best aspects of Castlevania, then you got this, I'd be pissed. But they were clear from day one this is how they're doing console Castlevania. 

Posted by ReyGitano
@DukeTogo: I understand that it's something you might want to mention in passing in your review since it is a Castlevania game, but at the same time "what a game isn't" shouldn't effect it's score, unless there's a very clear understanding of what it should be instead (such as sequels that aren't as good as their predecessor). 
 
I haven't played it myself yet, but I've played past Castlevania games, and I don't really understand what qualities Lord of Shadow is missing to qualify it as such. The monsters are there. Aside from that the only other thing that comes to mind of what makes a Castlevania game a Castlevania game is the Metroid style exploration mechanic... but do you really need that to make it a good game?
Posted by ryanwho
@Sigwood said:
" I find it funny that the reviews are all like, hey, this isn't Castlevania, and yet the very first Castlevania was linear level by level and you didn't have XP or find new weapons (except sub-weapons) etc etc.  This Castlevania isn't like Symphony of the Night but it is more like old school Castlevania I think.  But that's just my opinion of course. "
What Castlevania started as isn't what it became known for. Most Castlevania games adhere to the SOTN structure because that's what made the IP popular.
Posted by KaosAngel

The game is still a GOW3 clone being whored out as  Kojima game.  I'll wait for the $20 price tag.

Posted by Milkman

Remember Castlevania Lords of Shadow for what it was suppose to be, not what it was. 

Online
Edited by Sigwood
@ryanwho said:

" @Sigwood said:

" I find it funny that the reviews are all like, hey, this isn't Castlevania, and yet the very first Castlevania was linear level by level and you didn't have XP or find new weapons (except sub-weapons) etc etc.  This Castlevania isn't like Symphony of the Night but it is more like old school Castlevania I think.  But that's just my opinion of course. "

What Castlevania started as isn't what it became known for. Most Castlevania games adhere to the SOTN structure because that's what made the IP popular. "
So your claim is that Castlevania wasn't popular before Symphony of the Night?
 
Just to clarify as well, I am not saying that this Castlevania is good or bad.  All I am saying is that for a reviewer to claim that this game is not Castlevania is sort of crazy when Castlevania originally was an action game and not Metroidvania style.
Posted by xyzygy
@ryanwho said:
" @Sigwood said:
" I find it funny that the reviews are all like, hey, this isn't Castlevania, and yet the very first Castlevania was linear level by level and you didn't have XP or find new weapons (except sub-weapons) etc etc.  This Castlevania isn't like Symphony of the Night but it is more like old school Castlevania I think.  But that's just my opinion of course. "
What Castlevania started as isn't what it became known for. Most Castlevania games adhere to the SOTN structure because that's what made the IP popular. "
Castlevania was insanely popular before SOTN, what are you talking about?
Posted by VoodooTerror
@SethPhotopoulos: i worded it badly
 
i was commenting on his point rather then the specific game
Posted by SethPhotopoulos
@VoodooTerror: True.  That reminds me of the Mafia 2 thing.
Posted by Cornman89

I have never, in all my life, understood what people mean by that phrase.

Posted by Vorbis

As far as I'm concerned, it has a Belmont, it has a Whip, it has monsters, it has Items and that makes it a Castlevania game.
 
What annoys me more is people calling it a GoW clone, some people act like GoW owns the genre, aparently no one else can do melee combat with fixed camera angles anymore without some idiot spouting GOW CLONE.

Edited by TwoLines
@Vorbis: From what I've read it's very simmilar to GOW. Not just taking things from that genre, it's GOW reskinned.
And that's what bugs me..
From something original and cool to a simple clone of a game that has already been cloned countless times..
Yeey...? I don't understand.. why can't they make an awesome 2D Castlevania game?
It would work! It really really would!
 
Or, if they REALLY want to switch to 3D, make something original, like Metroid did! Metrooid Prime and Corruption as well as the latest Team Ninja stuff!
Posted by SethPhotopoulos
@TwoLines said:

" @Vorbis: From what I've ready it's very simmilar to GOW. Not just taking things from that genre, it's GOW reskinned. And that's what bugs me..From something original and cool to a simple clone of a game that has already been cloned countless times.. Yeey...? I don't understand.. why can't they make an awesome 2D Castlevania game? It would work! It really really would! "

They have.  They aren't on consoles anymore. 
 
So you want them to not try 3d any more? 
 

 Platforming and puzzles

Similar to the original Castlevania titles, platforming and puzzles are a key component and are featured in 50 levels. The player can control Gabriel to jump most distances, dash or hold his balance above fatal pits. The Combat Cross is not only used for combat, but also for exploration purposes like scaling walls, rappelling and swinging across gaps. Some sequences of the game will require the player to solve physical puzzles or brain teasers. Alternatively, moving certain objects can set off chain reactions and open the way to another area. Activating switches can also assist against traps. The player will be able to explore the levels in order to find hidden items, which can increase health or abilities.

Posted by TwoLines
@SethPhotopoulos: I've edited my post.
Do something original if you have to change genres so derastically. Cause this was a genre switch- let's no argue with that.
A simple GoW style game isn't Castlevania. Did they just stop trying? I'm bummed out by all this..
Posted by SethPhotopoulos
@TwoLines: An fps isn't really the most original thing. 
 
Metroid Prime was an FPS mixed with Metroid.  This is a character action game mixed with Castlevania.
Edited by TwoLines
@SethPhotopoulos: But, the gameplay was different, and NO other FPS around is made like Metroid was. And Team Ninja's stuff is really unique too.
Would Metroid be better if it was just another GoW game? Or another 3rd person shooter?
 
They should try to mix things up in games. Gameplay wise, I'm not saying create new genres, but try doing something different.
Wouldn't you agree?
Posted by SlightConfuse

if im not mistaken the castlevania name was added on later when the game was in devlopment.  

Posted by Gamer_152

I think the reviewers did the right thing, you shouldn't score down a game because of what it's not but an important part of a review in these such situations is outlining that it may not be what fans are expecting.

Moderator
Edited by SethPhotopoulos
@TwoLines said:

" @SethPhotopoulos: But, the gameplay was different from ANY other FPS around. And Team Ninja's stuff is really unique. Would Metroid be better if it was just another GoW game? Or another 3rd person shooter?  They should try to mix things up in games. Gameplay wise, I'm not saying create new genres, but try doing something different. Wouldn't you agree? "

If they take old things and mix them into something new that works that is something different.  From what I understand they are mixing the combat of GoW with the exploration and puzzle solving it is like the Old Castlevania games as well as platforming, and the bosses are like the Shadow of the Colossus boss battles using platforming and new items. 
 
Just because they are using old methods doesn't make it a clone. 
 
Metroid did the same thing as this game for the Prime series.  "Let's use our exploration with FPS gameplay."  It turned out great.
Posted by TwoLines
@SethPhotopoulos: Yeah, but it just.. looks.. so much like God of War.
It's.. just weird. I played a Castlevania game on a PS2- it was 3d and it was more Castlevania than Gof of War.
I dunno. GoW is different. The combat feels more mashy and bloody.
 
But- I did not play the new Castlevania.
So I figure I have to play it first. But as soon as I will, I'll probably have more things to say about all this.
Posted by Judoka
@slightconfuse said:
" if im not mistaken the castlevania name was added on later when the game was in devlopment.   "
Yeah, Konami should have kept there big mouths shut on that one.  I like the look of the game and I'm going to give it a chance.  I'm doing the same with Vanquish.
Posted by Chokobo

Looks like about an 8.3 average.  On or below average for metacritic scores, not that you should really pay attention to it anyways.  
 
Games should be reviewed based on their own merits, not based on a comparison to the pedigree of it's franchise.  Unfortunately that's bound to happen, especially with a series as long-lived and beloved as Castlevania.  Kind of bums me out.

Posted by Wasara88

I hate the fact that everyone seems to think a Castlevania game shold be like SotN and other "metroidvanias" Go and play Super Castlevania IV and you see that LoS is indeed a Castlevania game.
Posted by Shadow

Okay.  You buy it then. 

Posted by ChristOnIce

It seems a fair criticism.  It's called Castlevania.  Reboot or no, it should contain elements of the other games (at the very least in style).  I'm not terribly up on this game, so I can't speak for the accuracy of the statement, but it's a reasonable sounding complaint.  
 
What I could do without are all the idiots who call it (or a host of other games) God of War clones.  It's fucking stupid.  God of War used a control structure and pacing that are now commonplace, sure.  However, the game was by no means the first to do so, and there have been many distinct games to do so since.  Open world sandboxes are not GTA clones, first-person shooters are not Doom clones, and third-person action games are not God of War clones.  There's a difference between a rip-off and a game in a similar style.

Posted by Oldirtybearon

Lords of Shadow looks like a good game. It also looks like the first great Castlevania game since Super Castlevania IV. I did not like SotN or the other Metroidvania titles. They didn't focus enough on whips and killing monsters in a spooky castle. Lords of Shadow has: 
 

  • Lots of classic monsters
  • Lots of new monsters
  • Exploration of the levels
  • Awesome whip combat
  • Interesting characters (WHAT IS A MAN this is not)
  • Spooky-ass castle
 
Seriously, distilling Castlevania down to its core you get those things, and not Alucard with poor weapons that you need to upgrade to have any chance in hell of beating the inverted castle.  
 
So, really, this is a game I'll be grabbing. The only question I have is PS3 or Xbox 360? 
Edited by SeriouslyNow
@xyzygy said:

" @ryanwho said:

" @Sigwood said:
" I find it funny that the reviews are all like, hey, this isn't Castlevania, and yet the very first Castlevania was linear level by level and you didn't have XP or find new weapons (except sub-weapons) etc etc.  This Castlevania isn't like Symphony of the Night but it is more like old school Castlevania I think.  But that's just my opinion of course. "
What Castlevania started as isn't what it became known for. Most Castlevania games adhere to the SOTN structure because that's what made the IP popular. "
Castlevania was insanely popular before SOTN, what are you talking about? "
His statement baffles me too.  Symphony of the Night was a refresh of the franchise and while it was popular then it had been extremely popular before SoTN on NES and SNES.  It's funny how people put their own spin on what a franchise should be, based on what limited exposure they've had to it.  LoS is a true Castlevania action game experience to the core.  SoTN was the Metroidvania experience and that's not what a true Castlevania should be.  It's a good game in its own right, there's little doubt of that but Castlevania was an Action Game first and LoS takes that root experience and expands it into 3D.
Posted by Wasara88
@KingWilly:
Get the PS3 version, because what i have heard the 360 has some framerate issues that the PS3 has not. If only my PS3 was still fuctioning.
Edited by Kyelb22

I hate how people who use the term "GOW clone" as a bad thing. All three God of War games were great and singlehandedly redefined the third-person action genre. I don't understand why people think it's a bad think if a developer is inspired by a series of great games. Think about what a game like this would actually BE if it wasn't a GOW clone: shitty combat, because if a game has good combat, it's ripping of GoW, lack of epic boss battles, poor camera work, and terrible music. Whenever I hear that something is a GoW clone in a review, I take that as a good thing, because the more GoW-like games I can get my hands on, the better.

Posted by TwoLines
@ChristOnIce said:
" It seems a fair criticism.  It's called Castlevania.  Reboot or no, it should contain elements of the other games (at the very least in style).  I'm not terribly up on this game, so I can't speak for the accuracy of the statement, but it's a reasonable sounding complaint.    What I could do without are all the idiots who call it (or a host of other games) God of War clones.  It's fucking stupid.  God of War used a control structure and pacing that are now commonplace, sure.  However, the game was by no means the first to do so, and there have been many distinct games to do so since.  Open world sandboxes are not GTA clones, first-person shooters are not Doom clones, and third-person action games are not God of War clones.  There's a difference between a rip-off and a game in a similar style. "
Tell me the name of that game type then. Of that particular GoW game type. And don't say 'adventure' or 'third person whatever'.
There is none. Saying- it's like GoW explains everything. Like 'cover based shooter', Everyone knows what kind of game that is.
Posted by yyZiggurat
@KaosAngel said:

" The game is still a GOW3 clone being whored out as  Kojima game.  I'll wait for the $20 price tag. "

Kojima Productions helped with the cut scenes.  I was annoyed when G4 hardly mentioned Mercury Steam in their preview.  Frankly, after MGS4, I doubt I'd be as interested in Lords of Shadow if it were a Kojima game.
 
@ChristOnIce:   Well said.
Posted by Raymayne
@TwoLines said:
" @Vorbis: From what I've read it's very simmilar to GOW. Not just taking things from that genre, it's GOW reskinned. And that's what bugs me..From something original and cool to a simple clone of a game that has already been cloned countless times.. Yeey...? I don't understand.. why can't they make an awesome 2D Castlevania game? It would work! It really really would!  Or, if they REALLY want to switch to 3D, make something original, like Metroid did! Metrooid Prime and Corruption as well as the latest Team Ninja stuff! "
It's not GoW reskinned, at all. Go play the demo.
Posted by Meowayne

Metroid: Other M says hello.

Posted by Firvulag
@Sigwood:  its not just your opinion.
the game was absolutely based on the design of Super Castlevania 4 (the developer said so)
and that game was hella linear.
 
just goes to show what IGN knows :P
Posted by dudeglove

The ten minute gameplay preview video gave me nasty flashbacks of Dante's Inferno extremely overdone promo stuff. I'll wait for DmC.

Posted by ryanwho
@SeriouslyNow said:
" @xyzygy said:

" @ryanwho said:

" @Sigwood said:
" I find it funny that the reviews are all like, hey, this isn't Castlevania, and yet the very first Castlevania was linear level by level and you didn't have XP or find new weapons (except sub-weapons) etc etc.  This Castlevania isn't like Symphony of the Night but it is more like old school Castlevania I think.  But that's just my opinion of course. "
What Castlevania started as isn't what it became known for. Most Castlevania games adhere to the SOTN structure because that's what made the IP popular. "
Castlevania was insanely popular before SOTN, what are you talking about? "
His statement baffles me too.  Symphony of the Night was a refresh of the franchise and while it was popular then it had been extremely popular before SoTN on NES and SNES.  It's funny how people put their own spin on what a franchise should be, based on what limited exposure they've had to it.  LoS is a true Castlevania action game experience to the core.  SoTN was the Metroidvania experience and that's not what a true Castlevania should be.  It's a good game in its own right, there's little doubt of that but Castlevania was an Action Game first and LoS takes that root experience and expands it into 3D. "
Well then SOTN and every well recieved entry after it (that is, about 70% of Castlevania games total) hasn't been a "real" I guess. The jackass has spoken. 
Posted by SeriouslyNow
@ryanwho said:
" The jackass has spoken.  "
How right you are, jackass.
Posted by ryanwho

I love this, people actually speaking in the pejorative of Castlevania when it actually got interesting to rationalize the lack of the interesting element here. No see, being uninspired and linear is what true Castlevania was really about. Not that stuff you saw in the far and away most praised entry in the series, or the majority of games in the series aping that game. Really hopeless.

Posted by SeriouslyNow
@ryanwho:  LOL.  Yeah, because stealing Metroid/Zeliard RPG action mechanics really is inspired, right?  More like inspired by Metroid because they didn't have any fresh ideas for combat back then.  I loved SoTN for what it was but to say that it's the blueprint of Castlevania's succes is a joke.  It's a game which had many fans before it got CDROM content aware.
Posted by DragonBloodthirsty

I've noticed that problem too.  I see too much whining about what a game is or isn't, and how it's too similar to some particularly well selling title (as if that game wasn't similar to anything that came before it).

Posted by OneManX
@SeriouslyNow said:
" @ryanwho:  LOL.  Yeah, because stealing Metroid/Zeliard RPG action mechanics really is inspired, right?  More like inspired by Metroid because they didn't have any fresh ideas for combat back then.  I loved SoTN for what it was but to say that it's the blueprint of Castlevania's succes is a joke.  It's a game which had many fans before it got CDROM content aware. "
Considering that SotN is the standard of Castlevania games... I can see why people would expect more games to play like that.
Edited by kevinpyon

Seems like those reviewers thought the game was nominally a Castlevania game and not structurally. Haven't played it (or past Castlevania games either) but I will say that any developer that puts a classic franchise's name to a game is setting itself up for extremely critical reviews that will attempt to determine if the game truly creates a faithful but new experience on an existing IP or simply uses the title to bring in more bucks. This is similar to the fear Jeff had when initially hearing that Bioshock Infinite had the Bioshock tag to it.
Posted by notsonic

they should have copied batman instead of god of war.

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