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Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2 | reviews, news & interviews

Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2

Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2

Whip smart? Hardly – this action-adventure sequel jumps the franchise off a cliff

'Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2': Dracula as you've never seen him before – weak and feeble

Dracula, the ultimate symbol of undead power, mystery and evil. As the anti-hero in this action-adventure sequel to the excellent Lords Of Shadow, you'd hope this would make for an epic adventure, or at least some toothsome plotting. Instead we get an enfeebled, old man as main character, a meandering, over-complex plot with ill-judged shock factor elements and far too many dull sections to plod through. It makes Twilight look like The Hunger or Near Dark in comparison.

Dracula awakens from a long sleep weak and feeble in the modern world. In order to end his cursed immortality, a MacGuffin voiced by Patrick Stewart tells him he's got to regain his powers in order to stop the shadowy Acolytes summoning back Satan. Dracula sets off to investigage a biotechnology company that's an Acolyte front, run by demons, while being haunted by visions of his own family and past life in his castle. Yes, that really is the plot – and it really is as dreadful as it sounds.

Castlevania Lords Of Shadow 2 now with added DraculaIn order to defeat the Acolytes, Dracula has to sneak around biotechnology labs, underground parking garages and generic warehouses. Considering the original Lords Of Shadow excelled at delivering ludicrously gothic medieval environments, this is something of a comedown. Dracula is also apparently not strong enough to take on large cyborgs (although he is strong enough to take on their demonic boss five minutes later), so he has to turn into a plague of rats and swarm through the sewers.

A game billed as letting you play the mighty Dracula sees much of the time you guiding a rat through a maze – perhaps as some kind of ironic commentary on the linear and branching nature of videogames and technology; more likely due to a total failure of imagination on the part of the developers. But if only these idiotically misjudged stealth sections were the only problem.

Castlevania Lords Of Shadow 2 now with added DraculaOn top of that, and the painful family reunion dialogue and sub-plot, there's also the matter of the combat. Now that is where this game should shine – its predecessor managed the trick of delivering Castlevania's famed speedy combat in gorgeous 3D. The venerable series' whip and sword attacks transferred beautifully. But this monstrosity dumbs down and slows down the system – throwing in moves that are vital but that turn fast-paced combats into a series of mini cut-scenes, each of which has to be waited out for seconds at a time. On top of that is thrown annoying control issues and artificial difficulty spikes to mess with you. The result, fairly obviously by this point in the review, is a mess.

The mystery behind this game is what happened between Lords Of Shadow 1 and 2? How did the same people get it so disastrously wrong? Given how clearly rich and interesting the idea of vampires is, given how bloody and brilliant its predecessor and the Castlevania series is, this is terribly toothless.

A game billed as letting you play the mighty Dracula sees much of the time you guiding a rat through a maze

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