E3 2013 Preview: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 reminds us of God of War
One of the major upcoming titles due out from Konami is Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. The game is coming sometime in the winter to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. I had the chance to get some exclusive hands-on time with the game, and while there was really nothing functionally wrong with it, there was one massive caveat: The whole thing just felt way too much like God of War to provide anything remotely refreshing.
In Lords of Shadow 2, you take on the role of Dracula. As you would expect, this guy is super brooding and dark. I mean, he's dead, and he can never get his fill of human blood. Also, people are always trying to kill him. I'm sure we'd all be in a bad mood if our lives sucked as bad as Dracula's. The vampire lord's apparently got issues with Satan, and he's still dealing with the Belmont clan, so it's up to you to guide him to victory — delicious, bloody, villainous victory. The idea of playing as Dracula in a Castlevania game is kind of neat, but it's also a bit weird since he's been the main series antagonist for so long.
I'm surprised Lords of Shadow 2 stars Dracula and not Kratos from God of War, because the similarities between the two are ridiculous. The famed vampire uses melee attacks that have a bit of range, and there are various combos that can be stringed together by simply tapping away at the face buttons. You can block, dodge, and parry enemy attacks, so there are a few ways to avoid taking damage. When enemies are stunned, you can suck their blood and regain health that way.
Another way to gain health is by using a deadly sword that actually refills some of Dracula's lost health with every hit. The character can also turn his fists into fiery weapons that slowly break enemy characters' shields the more you punch them. These additions to the combat don't exactly add much variety — all they do is give you health and make killing enemies take much longer.
Aside from battling waves of bad guys ... no, wait, good guys, I also took on a massive boss character. The bulk of the combat here required me to dodge powerful attacks and strike when I had an opening. Again, this encounter was really God of War-like, which is to say it wasn't bad, but it was something I've seen in far too many games for far too long. Was the battle bad? No. Was it exciting? Absolutely not.
Following this encounter, I guided Dracula up falling towers and crumbling structures. Climbing upward was very reminiscent of God of War: Ascension. I simply tilted the right analog stick in the direction I wanted to climb, and up went Dracula. When handholds were a bit further up, a press of the X button while tilting the analog stick caused the vampire to leap a bit higher. This gameplay was actually more fun as it was cool seeing explosions all around and witnessing a constantly changing stage.
One aspect of Lords of Shadow 2 that will be drastically different from God of War is the open world that Konami has talked about in the past. While the main parts of the game take place in Dracula's castle, a modern-day setting acts as the surrounding open world during the course of this adventure. This could be cool, especially since God of War has been in need of an open world element for some time now. At least this hilariously similar game will take a step in that direction.
I walked away from Lords of Shadow 2 underwhelmed and confused. The gameplay differences between this game and God of War are practically nonexistent, and it's stupefying how close this title is to Sony's famed yet tired franchise. I'm not saying Lords of Shadow 2 will be a bad game. If you've had your fill of God of War, though, this is just too familiar to get excited over. Seriously, can we just combine the two franchises already?
Oh, and there were also quick-time events, because of course there were.
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