What Is Castlevania Ultimate? A Miserable Pile Of Content

By Nathan Grayson on June 6th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

Because regular spiders weren't already terrifying enough.

OK, it’s actually quite a nice pile of content, but I really wanted to make the Symphony of the Night opening reference. Now then, that out of the way, we have a rather surprisingly unrelated game to talk about. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Ultimate Edition is actually a compilation of the recent Hideo-Kojima-tinged, MercurySteam-developed series pseudo-reboot, spanning Lords of Shadow and two add-on chapters. You’ll remember, of course, that Cara whiffed icy vampire blood percolating in Steam’s vapors back in March, but now it’s official. Scatter into a flock of bats and scream past the break for a trailer.

Or, well, it’s really more like two-and-a-half trailers gorilla glued together, but I suppose that’s kind of the point. Both of these heavy hitting Goth of War vampire slappers might’ve taken their time coming to PC, but we certainly won’t be at a lack for things to do once they arrive. Here’s the basics:

“The Ultimate Edition offers the original full game plus add-on content: Reverie and Resurrection. It also boasts enhanced 1080p HD graphics, runs at a solid 60 frames per second via recommended spec, and offers trophy integration through Steam with Cloud saving.”

Er, trophies? Do they mean achievements? Huh. Anyway, Reverie and Resurrection are additional story chapters for the first Lords of Shadow. So this is a pretty standard “Ultimate” package, but I certainly can’t knock it.

I haven’t actually played LoS, but I’ve heard pretty good things about it. As a big fan of Symphony-style Castlevanias I initially bristled at this monster mashes’ focus on QTE-laden action, but I’m intrigued by talk of interesting mechanics and a completely bonkers, series-resetting plot twist.

The Ultimate Edition is coming to Steam on August 27th. Are you planning to whip it, whip it good?

__________________

« | »

, , , .

56 Comments »

  1. subedii says:

    Er, trophies? Do they mean achievements? Huh

    Trophies are the Playstation equivalent of achievements.

    But enough talk, have at you!

  2. Ansob says:

    Fairly certain this does not contain Lords of Shadow 2, which isn’t even out yet. It’s just the first one and all the DLC.

    Still a pretty good deal and something I am looking forward to, though.

    • lhzr says:

      yeah, that’s what the quote says (“The Ultimate Edition offers the original full game plus add-on content: Reverie and Resurrection”).

      nathan got things a bit mixed up in the first paragraph.. two games for the price of one, that would’ve been a pretty neat move on konami’s part.

      • Jekhar says:

        Yeah, that bit about LoS 2 beeing included got me confused too. I own the original on the xbox, but never got around to buy the dlcs. They seemed a bit too pricey for only adding a single level and a drawn out boss fight respectively. For the price of each dlc (800 ms points) you might get a full xbla game instead.
        Maybe i’ll pick this up someday during a sale to complete the package. I’m currently migrating back more to pc anyway, so it would be nice to take some of my games with me.

  3. Deadly Habit says:

    I hope it’s a decent 3d Castlevania as they tend to be hit and miss.

    • dE says:

      It’s a decent God of War. Castlevania? Eh, well it’s a remake, no need to heed series conventions at all, I guess. I expected a Castlavania and was disappointed but folks expecting God of War in Castlevania Clothes will have an absolute Blast with this one.

      • maximiZe says:

        What if I’m expecting a God of War in Castlevania Clothes but don’t like God of War?

        • Soldancer says:

          Pretty much all the things that might make you not like God of War are in full swing here. Gabriel is a bit less of a jerk than Kratos. The game is still pretty brutal and gory and has unecessary boobs, though they are either faerie boobs or demon (!) boobs. And you cannot adjust the camera at all, ever. In fact, moving the right analog stick literally does nothing in the game.

          It’s pretty fun for a while, but the second 2/3 of the game can’t hold up to the first 1/3. It’s just too long, especially since you can pretty much guess the ending about a hour into the game, if not just by knowing there’s a twist.

          If it’s cheap and you like linear brawlers, you might give it a whirl. I, for one, was pretty disappointed.

          • maximiZe says:

            I was just mocking the man’s (or woman’s, we’re on RPS alright) “expectations define your experience!” mantra, but thanks for the impressions. For a decent price I’ll be picking this one up regardless, for the most part I like Character Action Games and adore LoS’s style/setting.

            Also gotta show Konami and Kojima-san how worthwhile investing in the PC platform can be and all that.

    • Lemming says:

      For what it’s worth, I really enjoyed it. It does take some cues from God of War with the combat but other than that its very much it’s own animal. Not very challenging, I’ll admit (once you get the hang of the controls), but the story is compelling enough, the game play fun and the artwork and score second to none. A fun romp but don’t roll out the red carpet.

  4. dethtoll says:

    If this turns out to not suck, and they do the sequel, I may actually be pretty pleased. I’m working my way through the Castlevania series in order of release (taking a break, then jumping back in with Circle of the Moon) so by the time I get to LoS that might actually happen.

  5. Drayk says:

    I played, but never quite finished LOS. It’s a good game, but it’s more god of war than the older castelvanias.

  6. Gap Gen says:

    Rincewind’s chest is looking mighty creepy these days.

  7. Anguy says:

    Since I recently finished Darksiders 1 and 2 and had a blast I’d like to know if those two can be compared to Castlevania LoS or do they just look alike in terms of gameplay and actually are completely different genres?

    • SquirrelKnight says:

      Lords of Shadow is very action focused with fairly linear, yet beautiful sets. I’d say the combat is more in depth than in Darksiders. Everyone loves to compare it to God of War, but to me it really feels like what would happen if you translated one of the original Castlevania games (I-IV) into a 3d setting. It is not a metroid-vania style of Castlevania game, and there are not experience points, which is actually quite nice. You just get to focus on your journey and use new equipment as you find it.

      If you like lots of action and hearing Patrick Stewart narrate your journey through Transylvania, then you will be quite happy.

  8. Christo4 says:

    Why don’t they make gameplay trailers? I mean really i never get how people can get excited over CGI… I am here to watch a GAME not a MOVIE!

    • Ansob says:

      It’s a two and a half year old game. They don’t really need to put gameplay in the trailer; if you want to see gameplay, you can just look up one of the million and one gameplay videos on YouTube.

      • Christo4 says:

        I’m not only talking about this one, also all the other games who give CGI trailers, but no gameplay trailers and are praised by fanboys everywhere.

        And even if the cutscenes are rendered in-game, why doesn’t i show some actual gameplay? How the character moves, combat, how you talk to characters etc.

        Even if i can watch youtube for some real gameplay, shouldn’t they also show that in the trailer? It’s a game after all, not a movie.

    • Jekhar says:

      The trailer doesn’t show gameplay, true, but what you are looking at are the games cutscenes, which are rendered in realtime, in engine. So you get to know what the actual game looks like. Which is at least better than those “totally different than the game” cgi or liveaction trailers you were thinking of.

      edit: plus what Ansob said ;-)

      • Flammablezeus says:

        Actually, a lot of in-game cinematics in games use higher detailed skins and models to make it look nicer than the regular game. Yet they still get touted as being gameplay videos because they’re being rendered in the engine.

        • MasterDex says:

          My experience is a bit different. I’ve found a lot of games have in-game cutscenes that hit the median mark in terms of graphical fidelity and can look jarringly out-of-place on the PC where the in-game graphics while playing are higher quality than the in-game graphics during a cutscene, which is really just a video. Alan Wake is the culprit I’ve seen do this most recently.

          • maximiZe says:

            Those aren’t cutscenes, they’re FMVs.

          • MasterDex says:

            Wrong. All FMV means is Full Motion Video. If the FMV happens between one piece of gameplay and another, it’s a scene that cuts the gameplay. In other words, it’s a cutscene.

  9. Totally heterosexual says:

    I still hate this game.

    Grr.

  10. lowprices says:

    It’s quite good, but anyone expecting anything like the Castlevanias of old will be disappointed, given that the entire design brief seems to have been: “Hey, God of War was good, wasn’t it?”

    It is worth playing, however, just to watch lead guy Gabriel seemingly not give even the tiniest shit about anything he’s faced with. That made me laugh several times.

  11. Aysir says:

    Trophies huh? I guess it’s obvious which was the platform of choice for Mercury Steam :) This was a great game. I was a little let down with Patrick Stewart (acting and his actual character) but the gameplay was great. The first DLC pack was also well worth it when it came out, the second one less so – so it’s nice that its being included here for nothing.
    Los1 and 2 marks the beginning and end of this reboot/spinoff/alternate realm (with the exception of the 3DS game which sits in between them) so if you haven’t played a Castlevania before – don’t worry, this is pretty much the full story for this version.

  12. Dominic White says:

    As mentioned, this is a decent God Of War clone, right down to nigh-identical combo strings and a convenient stretchy chain-based main weapon. Sadly, other than having a protagonist named Belmont and some gothic castles, it’s really not Castlevania.

    Weirdly enough, in terms of atmosphere, pacing and world-structure, Dark Souls is probably closer to the ideal of Castlevania than this. Go figure.

    • pakoito says:

      Dark Souls is the best Zelda and Metroidvania this generation.

      • DickSocrates says:

        I had never heard of Dark Souls being referred to as a Metroidvania type game until now. Looking it up, a lot of people contest that Dark Souls is that type of game.

        The definition of a Metroidvania being a game where new powerups/abilities you collect grant access to new areas that branch off old areas. Plus parts of the map connecting in ways you hadn’t guessed possible.

        The best Metroidvania of this generation is Arkham Asylum. Arkham City is closer to a Zelda in design (an overworld with discrete dungeons), and not a very good one. But I digress.

      • Koozer says:

        This is the most apt comparison of Dark Souls I’ve ever seen.

        On another note: all those indie ‘metroidvanias’ hardly ever come close to the glory of Metroid Fusion, Metroid Prime or Castevania: The One on the GBA That Was Good.

    • MasterDex says:

      As far as the Metroidvania model for Castlevania goes, you’re right. Those looking for a 3D rendition of that would be better off taking a look at Dark Souls. I disagree that it’s a God Of War clone however. Clone is a dirty word in the games industry and I don’t think it quite fits LoS. It’s true that it’s very much like God of War but I think the developers arrived at that style of game by ultimately looking back at the 2D scrolling Castlevania games and deciding that the God of War gameplay was the best candidate for a modern take on that.

      And even if we were to all agree that it’s a GoW clone. who cares?! It’s got Robert Carlyle in it. That’s gotta count for something!

      • dE says:

        It’s also got Patrick Stewart in it. That didn’t count for a whole lot, seldom have I heard the man in a more bored out of his mind role than this. But really, no I don’t think they arrived at that conclusion merely by coincidence. For reference, they were “inspired” by other games too, see the Ice Titan. I’m still surprised they didn’t get a lawsuit for lifting that thing straight out of Shadow of the Colossus. This game is more derivative of other IPs than Darksiders – and that’s gotta be an achievement in and out of itself.

      • Dominic White says:

        Given that they copied great swathes of God Of War almost verbatim, right down to the combo strings, I think it’s very safe to describe this game as a shameless clone. Even Dante’s Inferno tried to disguise the reskinned chain-whips as a stretchy scythe.

        It’s a good GoW clone, of course. Well reviewed for the most part, just don’t try to claim that it’s not a cynical reskin of another much more successful franchise with the Castlevania name bolted on.

        • Lemming says:

          As much as it borrows from God of War for the combat, I’d say it’s completely off the mark to call it a ‘cynical clone’. That puts it in Dante’s Inferno territory. This has been made with a great deal of care, IMO. I’m a big God of War fan, but what you’re saying is akin to Mortal Kombat being a Street Fighter clone, just because some of the combos out of a pretty limited combination of button presses do some moves? Really?

          • Dominic White says:

            If Mortal Kombat had every single control input from Ryu produce near-identical moves on Liu Kang, then yes, it would be a cynical clone. But it isn’t, because while Mortal Kombat might be in the same genre, it controls very differently, has its own visual style, moves, button layout, etc.

            This is a case of Castlevania featuring a protagonist with a stretchy chain weapon, and off-hand magic weapon button, and almost every control input from God Of War providing nearly identical attacks and animations.

          • Lemming says:

            @Dominic.

            I just had a quick look to see if could compare the GoW3/GoW2 combos with LoS and I’m not seeing anything that matches up in button combos let alone similar abilities. I’ve probably missed some, so care to give an example?

        • MasterDex says:

          Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure that Castlevania laid claim to the stretchy chain weapon idea well before God of War picked it up, also it had magic in it too. Also, if we take the tack that everything like GoW is a clone of GoW then GoW is a clone of Onimusha, Devil May Cry and a handful of other games from the past.

    • Lemming says:

      To be fair, it’s supposed to be an alternate/reboot Castlevania. It’s not trying to be its predecessors. It’s got a totally reset plot and everything.

  13. DickSocrates says:

    I’ve never played a God of War type game. Never held any appeal. The only thing here making me interested is the Castlevania aspect, but then it isn’t even a proper Castlevania game.

  14. Demiath says:

    Only played a few hours of the PS3 version. Even though the gameplay isn’t incredibly exciting there’s a lavish quality to the (admittedly stereotypical) art design and environments which should really come into its own once freed from the shackles of currentgen console hardware (the frame rate on consoles is frequently abysmal).

  15. kwyjibo says:

    I hope Lords of Shadow 2 comes to PC in a more timely fashion.

  16. strangeloup says:

    The main issue I had with this game is that it goes on and on and on for fucking ever.

    I don’t mind games being long by any means, but the pacing seemed really wonky. Plus there were a couple of bits that annoyed the piss out of me where an NPC would continually shout at you every 3 seconds to do some move that you learned a billion hours ago and can’t really remember what the buttons are, while you’re being swarmed by enemies.

    Also the bits that ripped off Shadow of the Colossus are rubbish.

  17. honky mcgee says:

    As the prophecy foretold, I will be purchasing this game.

    To all commentators claiming this game ripped off/cloned/stole from God of War, Shadow of the Colussus, your mom, Acme hack-n-slash etc…ad naseum, please see the video below and try to ascertain which character is you.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDuMp2kDxos

  18. smiddy says:

    Lord of Shadow got a bit of stick on it’s original release for not being up to the high standards of a Castlevania game. Personally I feel that a lot of the Castlevania games have failed to meet high standards, but that LoS wasn’t one of them.

    I’m typically not a fan of this genre, but this game really managed to get it’s hooks into me. The combat was fluid and had a ton of variety while having lovely animations throughout. The graphics were top notch and the art design fantastic, with some areas being down right beautiful.

    The voice acting didn’t always hit the mark when it came to Patrick Stewart (surprisingly enough), it felt at times as though he was just reading lines on a page without any knowledge of how it related to the game. But Robert Carlyle turns in a great performance as Gabriel, who could have easily come across as a very moody depressing character to play as, but instead garners your sympathy as you slowly come to understand his trauma.

    Last of all, in an age when a 6 hour campaign is almost expected of many games, LoS gives you something closer to 20+ hours. I honestly can’t tell why so many people were down on it. Maybe it was just a case of nostalgia, or maybe I just don’t know any better. Like I said, I’m normally a fan of the genre. But to hear that I’ll get to play it again with it looking even nicer on my PC is a joy.

    • Skyblade says:

      You’re not alone, i loved Lords of Shadow aswell. Granted, it was my first foray into the Castlevania universe, but to me that speaks volumes about why people really hated it, pure nostalgia.

  19. Theon says:

    I really don’t want to like this.
    In fact, I feel like loathing it for trampling the style, tone and -above all- gameplay of my most beloved series. The good reception of this title does not bode well for the future of 2D Castlevania.

    Yet, I have to admit it looks…good. That said, it would have been wonderful if they could’ve just made their own IP; Call it Van Helsing or some such.

  20. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    Superb game on 360 one of the few worth buying a console for. This game is challenging in places gameplay wise & will bring a monster PC to its knees as the gfx are quite complex in places & some of the bosses are massive this game will melt lesser hardware!!! Steals all the best bits from ICO/Shadow Of The Collossus/God Of War but presents them in a unique way it should really have been on PC 3 years ago but as the quality & production values are so high I can see this turning into another Alan Wake PC (selling over 500,000 despite being years old).

  21. Skab says:

    LoS 2 isn’t even out yet, and is not included in this.

  22. dirtrobot says:

    One of my favourite games from this generation of consoles. I’ll buy it again for better res and content.

    As a huge brawler fan this game probably has one of the best combat systems ever: imagine Ivy’s moveset as an extension to the God of War combo system with a cool health and magic regen-through-combat risk/reward system. Bonus: you aren’t limited to using super conservative combos in later stages.

    The settings, characters, monsters and music are stellar, stellar quality.

    It’s not without flaws, sometimes the platforming gets janky and a few bosses are tough.

  23. Wut The Melon says:

    Looking forward to playing this on PC… recently bought it for PS3 so I could play it at a friend’s but haven’t gotten around to doing that yet, and the game should of course look even better on a PC : ). Great looking game, only unfortunate that the texture resolution will probably be console-ish…

  24. m_a_t says:

    While I think this is certainly a fine game, the basic feeling I have, after playing it for a while, is very similar to the one I had after watching JJ Abrams’ Star Trek: a feeling of having be left alone, of not being part of the focus group anymorem and that after decades of having the games architects struggling with my interest by offering me so and so many iterations of the same, approved recipy. Maybe this is how some WWII veterans felt, when the Beatles were awarded the MBE: that the times of old values, that defined their very existence, had vanished to make place for a new era and that this new era would savagely scavenge the old one for whatever it finds useful. I know it’s the way things happen and I’m really thankful for games like Ecclesia, that pay some respect to the traditions of a franchise, that certainly is a poit of reference and identity for many of us. What I hope is, that there might be a point where those paths come together because I don’t think Castlevania, which has its own, recognizable mythology, wins from borrowing from all sorts of popular successes like LOTR, Shadow of the Colossus or the often cited GoW. The sad thing ist that this very own mythology is what many of us seek in a Castelvania game and that, obviously, we have become too old, too few to matter.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>