Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
|Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2|
|Engine||Mercury Engine 2|
|Release date(s)||NA February 25, 2014
EU February 28, 2014
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is an action-adventure game and a sequel to the 2010 game, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, and the 35th installment on the Castlevania franchise. The game was developed by MercurySteam and published by Konami. This is MercurySteam's last contribution to the franchise. The story is set in both medieval and modern worlds and follows a weakened Dracula who is on a quest to defeat his former enemy, Satan.
As in the previous game, the player controls Gabriel Belmont, now known as Dracula, as he fights through an open world. During the game's opening sequence the player is able to control Dracula while he still possesses all his powers as well as all of his weapons. Dracula's main weapon is his Blood Whip, a weapon that is comparable to the Combat Cross from the original Lords of Shadow. Replacing the magic system from the previous game are the Void Sword and the Chaos Claws. The Void Sword can replenish Dracula's health when used while the Chaos Claws can be used to break through enemy defenses and deliver powerful attacks. The story mode in Lords of Shadow 2 has been stated to be far longer than the previous one. The game is mainly an open world allowing the player to choose what route to take. This game also features a movable camera, something that was not available in the first Lords of Shadow game.
The game starts out with a recap of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate, detailing Gabriel Belmont's (Robert Carlyle) transformation into Dracula and his encounters with his son, Trevor (Richard Madden), whom he kills and subsequently resurrects, and grandson, Simon. The game starts proper with knights attacking Dracula's castle. He swiftly dispatches all of them before being confronted by the revived Trevor, now known as Alucard. The encounter leaves Dracula in a deep slumber for centuries.
In the modern times, Dracula awakens in a cathedral, weak from starvation and with no memory of the circumstances that led him there. He is warned by his former enemy, Zobek (Patrick Stewart), of the return of Satan, who until then was deterred from doing so by Dracula himself. Zobek offers him the Vampire Killer, the only weapon capable of ending his cursed existence, in exchange for him vanquishing the people trying to bring Satan (Jason Isaacs) back, his acolytes. The key to him regaining his power lies in his castle. Throughout his journey, Dracula is aided by various allies, including Zobek's bodyguard and spectres of his deceased wife Marie (Natascha McElhone) and a younger Trevor.
Having destroyed two of the acolytes and tracked down the third, Dracula prepares to ambush him but is stopped by the bodyguard, who restores his lost memories. It is revealed that centuries ago, Alucard made a deal with him to destroy both Zobek and Satan, using his sword, forged from a piece of the Vampire Killer, to induce the deep sleep and elude Zobek's telepathic abilities. The truth now known, the bodyguard reveals himself to be Alucard. Zobek discovers their treachery and angrily confronts them both. Dracula kills him just as the third acolyte summons Satan, who proceeds to destroy the Earth using a giant flying creature. Dracula and Alucard are able to kill the beast, only for Satan to possess the latter, forcing father and son to battle. Dracula gains the upper hand and prepares to stake Alucard with the Vampire Killer, despite Satan's insistence that he would not and forcing him to vacate the body. Having anticipated this, Dracula kills Satan once and for all while saving his son. Dracula then destroys the Mirror of Fate and walks back inside his cathedral with Alucard as the sun rises on the city
The game was announced at E3 2012. The developers' intention was to play as Dracula for the first time in the Castlevania series and conclude the storyline started in the first Lords of Shadow. Although the previous game was well-received, the designers noted it had several flaws which they wanted to fix while improving the gameplay. This includes reducing the game's over-reliance on quick time events, removing the fixed camera in favor of a 360 field, and improving the framerate. Rather than recycling elements from previous games, the team decided to redesign the game engine. The developers also felt Lords of Shadow was too linear, which introduced another change for the sequel: it will have an open world to give players a sense of exploration and avoid transitions between levels. Despite an initially linear path, players will be given multiple options as they progress. This was also intended to contrast with other action series such as God of War and Devil May Cry. Designing the modern setting created difficulties for the developers. The team had previously done open world games but were disappointed with their quality and believe Lords of Shadow 2 will be an improvement over those.
On February 12, 2014 a demo was made available on PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, and PC.
Staff members from MercurySteam expressed a distaste with the development of the game. One mentioned this contrasted the development of the first Lords of Shadow game which was benefited from Hideo Kojima's involvement that allowed the team to do what they preferred. As a result, the staff of MercurySteam expresses they are not surprised by the mixed reviews the video game got acknowledging it to be inferior to the prequel. The staff blamed Enric Álvarez "who has led a broken development based on his personal criteria, completely overlooking programmers, designers and artists." As a result of Álvarez's decisions, several staff members left MercurySteam. Álvarez denied the claims on Twitter stating "Is sad see people giving credit to the lies and insults from an enraged ex-worker." 
Play was full of praise for the combat, describing them as "simply awesome", an "impressive, flowing combat system". Play commented how the skill progression system forced players to vary their attacks, a mechanic that GameSpot felt "delays your effectiveness in battle somewhat", but "[opened] the game up to different types of combat strategies." Joystiq also praised the gameplay concluding "Lords of Shadow 2 almost always rises above its annoyances. There's plenty to see and do, from its magnificent moonlit views to its sensational bosses (infuriating stealth boss excepted). There's even a delightful bit of puppet theatre. Everything is permeated by Oscar Araujo's superb soundtrack, and the voice cast consistently delivers – occasionally cheesy though the dialogue may be. Most importantly, the combat ties everything together, requiring focus and encouraging mastery."  The bosses in the game drew particular attention from multiple reviews, GameSpot described these "grotesque monstrosities" as "bringing to mind some of the best designs from film director Guillermo del Toro's work". Eurogamer highlighted the fight against the Toy Maker boss as a place where "the whole game suddenly shudders to life" and "a delight to be a part of", but felt that these levels of enjoyment could not be maintained through the game. IGN too enjoyed the boss fights, but felt that the standard enemy designs were "bland and boring" and some did not fit the Castlevania series at all.
The Edge review was highly critical, it highlighted the failings of the stealth sections, the "unimaginative visual design" of the modern era, and the poor pacing. Even the combat mechanics, described by Edge as the game's sole saving grace was judged to fall short of its inspirations such as the God of War series. In an interview with Eurogamer Spain, Enric Álvarez, the game's director complained that the Edge review was "terribly unfair", and that "one must be blind or stupid to give a 4/10 mark to a game with this quality". Álvarez believed that the game's poorer critical response compared to the original Lords of Shadow was due to the heightened expectations of a sequel. Still, on the whole, Álvarez said of the reception, "I tend to think positive after reading some things. I’m glad that some people are writing about games instead of making them."
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Joystiqwas invoked but never defined (see the help page).
Cite error: The named reference
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