Sink Your Teeth into ‘Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2’
Video Game Reviews
DEVELOPER: Mercury Steam
SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3)
ESRB RATING: Mature
REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Numerous fans of the “Castlevania” series were apprehensive about the 2010 remake, but “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” turned out to be a smashing, or should I say slashing, success! One would think that four years would be enough time to craft a worthy sequel, but “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2” isn’t as good as it’s predecessors.
“Castlevania: LoS 2” takes place hundreds of years after the events of the previous games, but it still focuses on Dracula. After being hidden away in an ancient cathedral for centuries, he makes a deal to prevent the return of his old nemesis, Lucifer. However, first he must regain the strength and abilities that have been drained from him over the years.
It’s in this weakened state that the game play begins, as Dracula undertakes several stealth missions. Although they’re easily the weakest section of the game, I can understand why they exist. What I can’t understand, however, is why Dracula must sneak past enemies later in the game when he easily cuts his way through every enemy he encounters.
Speaking of which, Dracula has access to three deadly weapons throughout his supernatural adventure. His basic whip is useful for taking out weaker enemies and building up the magic gauge, but his other weapons are much more fun! For example, players can heal themselves with attacks from the Void Sword, and the Chaos Claws are very useful for tearing through shields.
I appreciate the ability to swap between them with the simple push of a button, but I eventually grew tired of constantly switching weapons during combat. One way to resolve this is to make the magic gauge deplete slower. Fortunately, the deep experience system lets players continually acquire new moves to keep combat interesting.
Fans of the series will appreciate “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2,” but it’s unlikely to draw new devotees.
DEVELOPER: Double Helix Games
SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 3 (Xbox 360)
PRICE: $14.99 Download
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
“Strider 1” and “Strider 2” are still two of my favorite side-scrolling action games of all time. I remember continually pumping quarters into these arcade machines because the game play was so challenging! Now “Strider HD” brings the classic franchise into the 21st century, and the result is fast and frenetic fun.
Surprisingly, “Strider HD” has even less of a plot than the original. In fact, there’s no plot or storyline at all! All players need to know is that they control a super-powerful ninja named Strider Hiryu in a dystopian future. Using his razor-sharp katana and various martial arts, he must carve a path through rival ninjas, robots and even robot ninjas.
One of the highlights of this remake is the change from a standard linear path to one that features various areas that can’t be immediately accessed. Players must unlock skills later in the game and then return to these areas to reap their benefits. Fortunately, a handy new onscreen indicator shows players where to go next when they get stumped.
Also great is the hyper-fast and furious combat that’s leaps and bounds above it’s predecessors! Strider jumps and slashes his way around the room slaying enemies and grabbing power-ups to continue his delightful dance of death. Upgradeable attacks and super-moves add welcome variety to combat and let players tailor the game-play to their liking.
While the combat visuals and the look of Strider himself are excellent, the backgrounds seem very drab. If the name hadn’t already been used, the developers could have called the world Strider fights in, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Maybe it was done to highlight Strider, but the result is a collection of forgettable environments.
Some gamers will find “Strider” too easy, but turning up the difficulty makes subsequent playthroughs much more challenging!
REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM
5 stars = Must Have
4 stars = Very Good
3 stars = Above Average
2 stars = Bargain Bin
1 star = Don’t Bother
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
E10+: (Everyone 10 and older)
T: Teen (13 and older)
M: Mature (17 and older)
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